How to shortlist US Universities for higher education?

This article will help you decide on the University selection in detail. With more than 100 excellent Universities in US, it is an extremely difficult job to shortlist just 5-10 Universities to send your applications to.

Contact your friends and relatives in US
At the beginning, it seems extremely confusing as to how to decide on a particular University. Apart from the rankings, there is very little information that will actually help you. Hence at the beginning use your social network and contact your friends and relatives in US. Since they have studied or are currently studying in US in some University, they will be aware of the latest developments in the University. Every friend of yours who is in US will have gone through this process and must have done a lot of research on the shortlisting of Universities. Ask them which all Universities they applied to, which Universities they decided against and why and finally the climate of the University that they are studying at. After getting all the important information, you can make an initial list of the Universities that you will be applying to and then go for a thorough research for further shortlisting.

Top ranked US Universities for your branch of specialization
Although general rankings of Universities can be a good indicator about the education quality in that University, it should not be the primary factor for your application shortlisting of US Universities. The general rankings are based on all the performance of all departments in that University and the quality of education imparted in all the fields. Hence, the general rankings of US Universities can be highly misleading. Just to give an example, in general rankings Michigan Technological University ranks 88. But for Mechanical Engineering specialization, it ranks 46. So, shortlist Universities based on rankings, but also check the department specific rankings of the US Universities that you are shortlisting. Visit the following page for list of all rankings of US Universities based on the engineering majors: Top 100 US Universities sorted according to Engineering rank, tuition fees, acceptance rate and application fees.

Relevant research work and professors at US University
Whenever you look at the US University website, check the research section of the department that you will be applying to. If you find any of the research work that is very similar to the project or your job experience and are willing to work on the concerned research, immediately note down the email address of the concerned professor and make a note about the University and research work. Do this for all the Universities that you are interested and are checking the profiles and websites. Once you finish browsing the websites of all relevant Universities, immediately remove the names of all such Universities where you did not find a single interesting research work.

Climate and location of the US University
Some of the US Universities have very cold climate, while some have very hot summers as they fall near desert area. If you have health issues regarding climate, make sure the US Universities that you will be shortlisting suit your medical condition. Apart from the climate, whether the University is located in a city or a small town is also a concern for many students. A few universities are located right in the heart of the metropolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles and Boston. A few of the Universities are located in small towns very far from the nearest big city. Based on your preference of the locality, you can decide the Universities that you wish to apply to.

Find your close friends and peers applying to same US Universities
If you have a very close friend or group of friends or even any acquaintances that are also planning to go to US for higher education, do the shortlisting together. Make sure your final shortlisted Universities are similar. At least 3-4 of the Universities that you have shortlisted should be same. If you have a close friend with you, all the tasks become a lot easier and it acts as a support. But at the same time you will have to understand that US is a place where you are independent. You will have to find your own way, own preferences and you will have an independent life. So, don’t just go to a University just because your friend has decided that University. You must have your own interests for joining that University apart from your friend.