US Bound

Advice to help your child pick the right university after graduation

There are over 4,000 universities and colleges in the US, so how does a high school senior pick the right one? At times it can be a daunting and overwhelming decision, and keep in mind that not every college or even the best college is the ‘right’ one for your child.

While one of the best ways to get a feel for a university is by going there and taking a personal tour, unfortunately for many students here in Vietnam that might not be a practical, or financially viable, option. So here are a few tips that can help narrow down the list.

Family Talk
It is important for you and your child to be on the same page when it comes to college choices, especially when it comes to costs and location. These discussions need to be the start of the college search so that some parameters are set. Families need to be realistic about a student’s abilities, interests, available choices, and affordability.

If you have family members, friends or teachers who have studied overseas, ask them about where they went, and what they thought of their experience. Personal recommendations are a good insight into particular universities.

Young girl with hands on books at school

Know Thyself
Your child should think about the things they consider most important for a school to have, and locations where they can see themselves living happily for the next four years. It’s often a good idea to make a list of deal-breakers. For example, if your child enjoys group discussions they might do better in a smaller school with smaller classes. Alternatively, if they are self motivated, larger lecture halls might be better suited. Also, for those who like outdoors sports, campuses in big cities can be crossed off the list.

Take Advantage of College Fairs
College fairs give students the opportunity to speak in person to representatives from different universities. At the fairs your child can look at course guides, ask questions about programs and get a general feel for a variety of schools. Though be aware that university brochures are marketing tools and will, of course, highlight their strengths, so take advantage of the chance to ask representatives about any weaknesses.

Representatives should be able to discuss work placement opportunities, internships and alumni associations. Find out how much the school will help with job placements prior to graduation.

There are a number of fairs held at hotels in HCMC throughout the year and are usually advertised in local newspapers. Prepare some questions ahead of time, and have somewhere to record each school’s answers. This helps avoid becoming overwhelmed.


Research, Research, and Research
The internet can be a great tool for researching schools. There are many university directories available online which can give statistical information about different schools. College websites also have a great deal of information listed. Most universities today have Facebook accounts where prospective students can ask questions.

Go ahead and take a look at rankings but use them as a guideline. Few schools do everything well so it’s best to research which schools are ranked in the subject area your child is interested in. There are some good resources here in Vietnam which can help guide families and students towards the right choice. The US Department of State sponsors the Education USA center which provides students with unbiased, comprehensive and current information about educational opportunities at universities and colleges in the US. Their services are free of charge. There are a few other educational centers in Vietnam that will help with the process for a fee.

Matching the right university to the student is what’s paramount, not the other way around, and this will lead to a good education.

Bio: Katie Rigney-Zimmermann B.S, M.B.A, M. Sec. Ed, is director of Admissions and Marketing at Saigon South International School in Phu My Hung.


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