Picking the Right University (Part 1)

Academic Guidance

Picking the Right University (Part 1)

Many of us are very fortunate to have received good news from our target universities. Congrats! Now comes the fun, but slightly stressful, process of deciding where to attend. In this post I will share two big picture considerations that helped me decide between UChicago, University of Washington, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

  • University Culture will greatly impact your campus experience. Public universities (like the University of Washington) typically have more activities, diversity, and school spirit with athletics. Liberal Arts Colleges frequently have small class sizes, more access to professors, and very tight-knit campus communities. Research universities (like UChicago) are known for their intellectual rigor and academic opportunities while military academics (like West Point) are known for their disciplined culture and physical requirements.

Learn more about the culture of your admitted universities because you want to make sure it’s the right fit. My goal for college was to challenge myself and learn as much as possible. I visited UW, West Point and UChicago and decided that Chicago provided the best opportunity for me to continue activities I was passionate about (track, debate, and chess) while expanding my horizons (learning economics, finance, and international relations).

  • The Location of the university can be defining for your experience as well. Universities in small communities traditionally have close relationships with the surrounding area. The town rallies around the local school and significantly caters to the student population. Classic examples include: the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Universities in urban communities benefit from abundant resources and opportunities beyond the campus walls. Students will typically spend more of their time in the adjacent city.

My time at UChicago was greatly shaped by the proximity to the city. I got involved with youth mentoring projects in the neighborhood that taught me a lot about leadership and how much fun you can have while making a difference. I attended a community church where I made many friends I otherwise never would have met. I was able to explore Chicago’s world-class museums and architecture while trying lots of ethnic restaurants (Greek, Polish, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese hotpot are my favorites!). I also really enjoyed running through surrounding neighborhoods and swimming in Lake Michigan, excellent ways to keep fit with friends.

In Picking the Right University (Part 2) I will discuss the role of Funding, Reputation, and Insider-Information in selecting your choice.

Congrats again on your admission!


Greg Nance

ChaseFuture CEO