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Choosing US Universities on Ranking, Funding, and Location

University life is not only about the educational experience; it is one of the most crucial parts of your life. It is when you prepare for your future and the challenges ahead in your life. You have to consider a lot of things before finally opting for a university. Three of those significant aspects are university ranking, funding, and location. Most international students get confused when it comes to prioritizing the universities. Some students believe ranking is everything, for some, funding matters a lot, and some give importance to the location. 

Do all these aspects matter at all? Let’s discuss this.

US University Rankings

To understand the whole thing, we will have to take a quick dive into the ranking system. If you just look up on Google and search “US University Ranking”, you will come up with different links facilitated mainly by SEO. Most of these first-page sites do not provide accurate info they don’t base their rankings on key factors. The reason why we are mentioning this here is that there are certain reputed websites that rank universities based on how many citations or publications are there and there are websites that rank universities on diversity or infrastructure. And for you to prioritize what should be looking for is very important. When you look at the ranking, make sure you know the factors considered during the ranking process. 

For example, Times Higher Education gives 60% weight to citations and publications, whereas QS World Rankings only give citations and publications 20% of the weight for ranking.

What “COHORT” do you belong to:

Are you a student who wants to do the job after masters? Or, are you a student who wants to research your masters? To understand this is essential, you don’t have to decide right away but to have a basic idea in your mind is always useful. 

Infrastructure

If you remember the say “Ghar Patthar Se Nahi, logon se banta hai! i.e. The house is made of people, not of stone.”  This is very true when it comes to judging an academic institution. The universities are not known for their infrastructure; they’re reputed because of the people, notable alumni, the people who have published great publications, etc. When you shortlist a university, infrastructure is something you should give no importance to.

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Now, let’s talk about the location conundrum

A lot of students think that the east coast or west is better for the tech industry, south is better for civil engineering, the east coast is better for finance-related courses, mid-west is better for industrial and mechanics. 

To break this myth, here is the list of top 20 universities of artificial intelligence.

These rankings are based on research publications:

  1. Carnegie Mellon University
  2. University of California- Berkeley
  3. Stanford University
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  5. Cornell University 
  6. Georgia Institute of Technology 
  7. Princeton University
  8. The University of Texas at Austin 
  9. Columbia University 
  10. University of Massachusetts Amherst 
  11. University of Wisconsin- Madison 
  12. Boston University
  13. University of Michigan 
  14. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  15. University of California- San Diego
  16. University of California- Los Angeles 
  17. University of Pennsylvania
  18. University of Chicago 
  19. Rutgers University 
  20. University of Southern California 

If you look at this list, 15 out of 20 universities are not even on the west coast.

Also, here is the list of top 20 universities for construction management:

  1. University of Texas Austin, Texas
  2. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  3. Purdue University, Indiana
  4. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign 
  5. University of Southern California, California
  6. Virginia Tech University, Virginia
  7. Georgia Tech University, Atlanta
  8. Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania 
  9. Columbia University, New York
  10. University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan 
  11. University of Washington Seattle, Washington 
  12. North Carolina State University, North Carolina
  13. University of Florida, Gainesville
  14. University of Cincinnati, Ohio 
  15. University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado
  16. University of Maryland College Park, Maryland 
  17. Arizona State University, Arizona
  18. Clemson University, South Carolina 
  19. Iowa State University, Iowa 
  20. Rutgers State University, Fort Collins 

In the list, 15 out of 20 universities are not even near to the suggested location to study construction management. 

 ☞ The Batch-Size Matters

Let’s take two universities with similar courses, similar structures. They are in the same region, almost similar cost, almost third and fourth in the ranking. The third-ranking university has a larger batch size, and the fourth-ranking university has a smaller batch size. 

When these two universities go to their career fairs respectively, there is a similar number of companies who are coming. But the bigger batch size problem is competing among their batch whereas the smaller batch size competing among a smaller number. 

You should prefer the university where there is a smaller batch even if the rank is one or two lower than the previous university where the batch size is bigger. 

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For example: University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s construction management batch size is around 50-60 students, whereas Purdue University’s building construction management’s batch size is only 10-12 students. When Purdue’s students go to career fairs, we can see that they have an advantage over the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s students, and they are competing less against each other during the career fair!

If you can look up for a university which has a smaller batch size, it will be beneficial for you, and to determine this, here is a very easy way: Create a shared Google sheet among your friends, ask seniors what the batch sizes at a particular university for a particular course are. Put that number in the list. Thanks to the collaborative effort of a lot of students, the sheet can be populated quickly, and then you can all check that what batch sizes are there and which could be beneficial for you later on. 

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Should you be choosing a better-ranked university or full funding?

Here is an example again!

Purdue stands the third-best construction management school in the US after Texas Austin and Texas A&M. If you have gotten full funding from maybe 7th or even 10th ranked university in the US, you should go for it. 

There is nothing better than being financially free. 

If you can have no loan on yourself, then you would have less stress about the job, you can always go back to India, work and you will start from zero. You will not start from negative 60,000 USD which is the loan you have already taken because of your education in the good university. 

So, if you can be financially free, that’s amazing! Keep in mind not to choose universities that lure international students by giving them the “percentage of scholarships”, but no “assistantships”. This approach is common among newly launched universities and the non-top-ranked ones.

Shortly, don’t always go with the myths and general trend students take. Statistics and facts can make a lot of difference. Research well enough, discuss with current students and never, I repeat (Arnab Style), never ever believe 100% of what your consultancy says. 

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