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How to choose the right post-secondary school

Statistics show that most students who drop out of University, do so in their first year. In fact, most drop out in their first semester. What is the number one reason? Grades. How is it possible that students who achieve an 80-90% average in high school, find themselves struggling with a C-average in their first semester in University? There are a number of reasons, and one common thread, which is that they likely chose the wrong school, the wrong program, or both. The following are factors considered when selecting a post-secondary school. Many people consider only one or maybe two of them, when choosing a post-secondary school and program, when if fact, all of these factors should be carefully considered:

  1. Should I choose the best school and program? What parents don’t want their sons or daughters to attend the best school? What students, serious about their education, would not want to attend the best school? To clarify, it is not a mistake for this to be among the criteria when choosing a post-secondary school. It’s just that it shouldn’t be the only criteria, because the best school is not necessarily the best school for you. One of the most important keys to success is your ability to adapt and feel at home in your environment. If you don’t, then no matter how smart you are, you are unlikely to perform your best. In the end, the question you need to ask yourself is this: Is it better to get a C-average, or drop out altogether, from the best school in the country for your program, or achieve an A-average from the 3rd, 4th, or 5th best school?
  2. Should I choose a school close to home or out of town? Some students thrive at school when they can sleep in their own bed, regularly eat home-cooked meals, and have daily support from their family and closest friends. Others are motivated by the experience of being away from home, can adapt quickly to change, and embrace new experiences. There is no shortage of examples of kids who desperately want to attend school out of town, or even out of country, either because it’s the most reputable school for their program of choice, or just to be away from home, only to discover after only one or two months, that they are homesick. If this happens, their grades will suffer, possibly to the degree that they drop out. It might be a good idea for students wanting to live in residence, to spend a week or two away from home, perhaps at a retreat, with other students, to see how well they adapt, before making a decision.
  3. Is it OK to choose a school based on the fact that my friends are going there? Just like choosing a location, some students like the comfortable surroundings their friends provide, while others are eager to step outside of their comfort zone and make new friends. Students who want to stay close to their friends should ask themselves if their friends are good role models who will positively influence them when the going gets tough. Conversely, students wanting to attend a school where none of their friends will be, should ask themselves if they feel they can thrive, while trying to make new friends and fit in socially, without the support of their close friends. In both cases, students and their parents need to be honest about the unique advantages and disadvantages, as they differ for everyone.
  4. Does school culture matter? Perhaps more than any other factor, this may be the one that most influences success in school. Students who quickly integrate into their new surroundings are more likely to succeed. Successful integration means getting involved, joining clubs, sports teams, etc. If the school’s culture runs counter to a student’s interests and personality, it will very difficult to fit in and feel a part of the school. When choosing a school, students should find out if the school has clubs, sports, and other activities that are of interest to them and they can join. Being involved in activities outside of class will help them fit in, make new friends, and relieve some of the pressure from their studies.

Before making any of these determinations, be sure to do a lot of research and have as many resources at your disposal as possible. One extremely valuable resource is a personality assessment, such as a Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI). Knowing and fully understanding your personality type is instrumental in making decisions about your education. Like school itself, consider it an investment in your future that will provide immeasurable returns.

An internship abroad is also a great way to learn more about yourself and explore career choices. Contact ICS for more information

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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