UR is awesome – or Some general advice in choosing the right school

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  3. UR is awesome – or Some general advice in choosing the right school
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Hi everyone! Congrats on your wonderful list of college acceptances! After such a long period of waiting for others (folks from admission offices) to decide your life, you are finally in the position of choosing among your options the right place. You don’t depend on anyone at this point. It is only YOUR choice! Just be careful to make it wisely, as though your future depended on it. Actually, it really does :)
I know you are sick and tired of listening to advice from all corners about how to choose the right college, but an extra piece of advice when it comes to a decision that will affect your future is never too much, believe me! Let me walk you through a few criteria that helped me choose the right school for me, and not ever question my decision. I basically had to make my final decision between two pretty opposite schools, the second of which will remain unmentioned.
3rd floor of the Business School
I first asked myself what kind of school I wanted. One of my options was a big university with huge classes where I could skip class or just go unnoticed whenever I felt like it, or where I could be one of so many students that haven’t ever spoken to professors. My other option was a liberal arts college where I was motivated to come prepared to every class because professors would notice my absence, or where I could go to office hours whenever I felt like I needed additional help (of any kind, not only academic). If you think that the second case would be better for you, you may want to consider schools like UR.
To give you a couple of examples of what can happen during office hours, last semester in the last week of classes I went to a professor to ask her something about an exam, but we ended up talking forever about anything. At some point I asked her what is the best way to get to the airport from campus, but instead she offered to give me a ride to the airport before my flight back home. Some other time, during Scholars week, I went to introduce my scholar who was interested in Physics to my Physics professor from IQS. While talking to her, he told her at some point that he liked to tease me that Chemistry is not as logical as Physics. After that, he and I had a long debate in front of my scholar about some elements of Physics, Chemistry, and the philosophy of science. That conversation, and other similar ones with him, make me look at science in a different way than I ever did before.
Don’t you just love the lake?
As someone who considers a career in research and grad school is the next logical step, I also had to weigh the different types of approaches to research that go on in these kinds of schools: at some big universities, they often do real cutting-edge research that can be applied to real life the next day or so. But undergraduates have to compete with graduate students for positions in the labs, and guess who wins 99% of the time! Even if one undergrad is unusually lucky or a real genius to get a spot, professors don’t really make time for them and students have to learn on their own how to do research. At liberal arts colleges, research is not always so top-notch, but all focus is on undergrads. They get to do all work, and professors are there to teach them how to think as researchers. My personal opinion is that this approach to undergraduate research better prepares you for grad school. When I was trying to decide, I also found some statistics that generally a greater percentage of students from liberal arts institutions are admitted to grad schools than students from big universities.
But guess what:here at UR the undergraduate research philosophy is typical for liberal arts colleges, the research performed here approaches quite a lot the kind of research from big universities. For example, check this or this out.
We have green bikes!
Of course, you cannot neglect the financial aspect. After carefully taking into account details such as financial aid and family contribution, costs of transportation to and from home, and the general living expenses from the area, how much would it cost you to attend a certain school? In my case, UR was also the best financial deal, but you don’t have to go to your best financial deal. You have to go to your best overall deal. Think realistically about how much you are willing and able to pay for college. Maybe there are schools out there that are so perfect for you, that they definitely deserve paying 50,000$ a year more than if attending a school that gave you a good financial package. But maybe the better school isn’t actually so incredibly good as to deserve such a financial difference.
…and a Greek Theatre!
For me, UR is the most awesome place to spend my undergraduate years! I hope that, after carefully considering your options, you’ll realize that it is great for you too!
Please, holler if you think I can answer any questions for you!