Caveat emptor—it’s a highfaluting phrase cautioning the buyer to exercise discretion, lest he or she be led astray. While choosing a university isn’t exactly an exercise in detecting and avoiding deception, exercising discretion still plays a big part in the process
Granted, no university is perfect—each one excels at certain things and needs improvement in others. Here are a few things to keep in mind when “shopping” for a university of choice.
Let’s assume you know exactly what course you want to pursue. How do choose which one to attend when several or all of them are offering the course that you want? Simple: determine your non-negotiables first.
Non-negotiables are simply certain things a college must have before you can even think of attending it. These may include the option of private versus public institutions, location, proximity to one’s residence, cost, requirements, etc. These criteria will help narrow down a potentially large list of colleges to attend..
Once you’re armed with your list, you can now do some research. The internet offers a lot of resources you can check out. Be aware that a college’s official website is skewed toward promoting that college, so ask others who’ve been there and done that. Student friends and relatives who are school staff are good people to approach for feedback.
Don’t just rely on second-hand information, however. Word-of-mouth and virtual tours are good ways to get you started, but nothing beats visiting the actual school in person and finding things out for yourself firsthand.
A Quick Look
As a bonus, here’s a little something to get you started. First, a caveat: the following are the impressions of people (myself included) who’ve attended these schools in the past. Some things may have changed between the time they graduated and now, so do factor that in when considering these opinions.
If you have a bit of money to invest, Ateneo and La Salle are two good universities you can get into. Between the two, Ateneo is known to be the more “bookish” one with its core curriculum, as the Jesuits who run it have a rather unique academic code.
If you’re looking for something lighter on your budget, universities such as UP and UST are two schools you can check out. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the lower tuition fee rate translates into lack of quality instruction—just the opposite, in fact. You’ll still find a lot of good professors “lurking” in these two schools.
Lack of space prevents me from elaborating further, so it won’t hurt to drop by these schools sometime to see what they have to offer. There are also good universities out there that I haven’t mentioned here.
When it all boils down to it, choosing a university is like choosing a college course—you’ll need to do quite a bit of research and soul-searching as you go along.
Which brings me to my final point: yes, all the info you’ve obtained through research is important, but when the moment of truth arrives and you really need to make a decision, ask God for guidance and heed your own gut feeling as well. Then pick a college that you feel good about attending. You will ultimately have to live with your decision for the next few years, anyway.