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Michelle
11-22-2007, 11:24 AM
There are thousands of colleges and universities in the US. So which one suits you? Most people would have the following criteria in their selection:

1) Reputable, recognised and "top" school
2) Offers the course/program that I want
3) Course fees
4) Living expenses
5) Quality of life

Rankings
There are generally a few major rankings that are popular and closely-watched each year - The US News & World Report, The Princeton Review and the Business Week Rankings (for Business Schools, also known as B-Schools). Each rankings differs in its methodologies and has its own pros and cons. It's hard to say which one is better. And as for any rankings, take them with a dose of pragmatism and don't get too hung up on a school's exact rankings. It's not quite a science as you need to consider your personal situation.

Personal observation : Americans generally do not pay too much attention to world rankings of colleges. They tend to focus on American rankings. Actually, after spending 7 years there, I dare say the average American don't quite care about the rest of the world. :) In the company where I worked, we term any plant locations outside of the US as "geos" (short for other geographies). :p

Which schools to apply to?
We would all love, if given a chance, to study in an Ivy League college. But the reality is such that constraints such as costs, grades and acceptance by the college exists. Acceptance into the top universities in the US are highly contested among the Americans. Places for international students are limited. And you need to bear in mind that Singaporeans are but one of the groups of international students jostling for very limited places. (The MBA program I went through only accepts 1 Singaporean a year.)

So when you decide which university to apply for, consider these 3 very pragmatic factors:

- which college offers the courses you want to study
- which college you have a chance of getting accepted
- how much in total cost you can afford

BTW, you can't just apply for 50 schools because each application costs money (US$50-300). And do you really want to write 50 application essays?

How to Chose?
Narrow down the schools that offer the course you want by trawling through the rankings (you can find rankings by course of study). Have a short list of about 30 schools. Usually, you can take the top 30 schools unless you have specific criteria like which states you want to be in.

Visit the website of the schools and gather information like course fees, book fees and living expenses in that town/city.

Narrow down further your list based on what you can afford to pay (discuss with your parents if they will be supporting you). You should have a list of about 10 schools. Note that generally private schools are a lot more expensive than public/state schools.

Forming the list - Look at your list of ten and pick out 2 that are your "dream" schools, 3 that you feel you have a good chance of being accepted and 2 that you know you should be able to get in. You can get a clue about your chances by looking at your SAT score against the school's average SAT, the schools' acceptance rate (if it's 10%, then you know your chances are slim) and it's % of international students.

Once you have your final list, put in your best effort in the application and essays. You may be called for an interview or be asked to meet with an alumni that is in Singapore. So it makes sense to prepare yourself. If given a chance to interview, dress appropriately and demonstrate your purpose clearly. Good luck!

-Michelle

Dudboi
12-11-2007, 08:44 PM
This is actually pretty bad advice.

Unfortunately, it's also a very Singaporean thing to do. Don't fall into the trap of going to a name school because it may not be for you.

There are 4000 over schools in the US, and granted that Singaporeans are of a certain academic standard, there are still a whole bunch to choose from.

Ultimately, your decision should be based on whether the school fits you. In terms of size, location, student body/faculty, type of education, courses etc. There are too many factors to a school to make any ranking mean much (and the fact that a lot of them are profit-driven).

There's no time too early to start researching into schools, and you should look into sites like studentsreview.com (and dare I say) collegeconfidential.com for info about schools and campus life.

Find the school that's for YOU. We all know that US schools like to look for students who are different, so if you really are as different as you will eventually claim that you are, you should look for a school that caters to you and your needs, and not because it's higher on some list.

While the prestige of a school can help you find a job, if you had gone to a school that may not have been so famous, but has an equally good faculty and coursework, then you would gain the relevant skills, and be able to land a job just as good or even better, all without having to pay the 300K.

If you end up picking based on Ranking, then you might as well study at NUS. After all, it is 20th (or whatever) in the world isn't it?

koo86
01-09-2008, 01:52 AM
Actually, the NUS ranking 20th is kinda inaccurate, a lot of other rankings don't even reflect NUS in the top tier. But back to the topic of US colleges, I agree that one mustn't choose a school base on rankings, but one should not ignore the fact that the rankings are there for a purpose, if you were to pick between a Dartmouth grad and a Washington grad, you would certainly favour the Dartmouth grad over the Washington grad for a job interview. I think one should compare the school's rankings according to their forte; Colleges famous for their business schools one side, schools famous for their art program another.
Last but not to say, I don't think the cost is a problem when it comes to ivy league schools, Harvard subsidies the schools fees of students that have difficulty paying them

dershing
01-09-2008, 11:53 AM
just to weigh in my personal opinion. Brand name of university matters a lot. It is not everything and I agree with previous posts about fit and suitability. But after working for many years and seeing many friends and their careers, trust me, BRAND MATTERS.

If you attended Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Ivy Leagues you are always one grade higher (perception wise) than other normal good universities (including NUS) until you prove otherwise in your career down the road. So why put on the onus of having to prove otherwise ? Just get an instant recognition and headstart. Of course, you must have the capability to do well in those settings. Its the same for Oxford or Cambridge. Why you think so many of our high fliers go there and those who do not, will make sure they go there for their MBA or Masters?

So if i am advising , i would say, do a self assessment to see what career fits best, what is your interests, values etc. Then research each university on what it offers. Environment, costs, courses, faculty, people, location, cultural experience etc.

Then select the best (based on brand and rankings) and apply. I know there will be sure lots of disagreement, feel free to write back!

Dudboi
01-10-2008, 07:15 AM
Definitely the brand matters. But it also depends on what field/where you intend to work. If you're doing something specific like engineering or business, I think Wharton and Harvard Business grads may be better percieved then even yale/princeton biz grads purely because those biz schools are more recognized.

That said, if you're going to work in Singapore, there are some employers who have only heard of the big 3 (HYP), so schools like Brown, Dartmouth and even Columbia may not necessarily give you an edge despite their ivy status.

dershing: I hear this alot, but I personally don't agree. Apart from the fact that I have no idea what I want to do with my life, if you get schools within the same tier, the education will pretty much be the same. In fact, there are schools which may rank lower, but may have better academics. That's why I based my own decision on how the school will fit me, and not what it will do for my career.

koo86
01-10-2008, 08:45 AM
hmm just my two cents worth, if i were to graduate from a ivy league school, my first job would probably be in the states, since most students in these schools get to work and study at the same time. Most of the students are head-hunted by companies even before they graduate so working in singapore would probably the last thing on my mind.

dershing
01-10-2008, 10:30 AM
Yah agree with Dudboi. I think the issue here is that there are different ideas of what it means to be a best choice. Actually, there is no best choice, just what is best for each person.

So when I write about brand and stuff, I am basing on the premise that the person places a great importance on his career development and that it is of utmost importance. Of course if someone were to join a top brand school and is not happy due to people or content or environment, then naturally no point.

But purely from a career success point of view, i think the numbers show that brand does matter a lot.

Yah khoo is right about many graduates in USA schools staying to work there. In my year, almost all except scholars stayed to find a job. But that was back in roaring 1998-1999s. Interestingly though, quite a good number have come back asia or singapore to work as not all managed to climb up a lot. You do have a local advantage when it is your own culture.

Michelle
01-11-2008, 05:25 PM
When I set out to write my little cheatsheet of how to apply for an US school, I had a pretty simple objective - to give a pragmatic step by step method using common sense as the base. The key word being "pragmatic"

Of course, I agree that you dont just chose a school based on rankings but as dershing said, if given between a choice of wharton b-school and say arizona state, i'll take wharton (all things being equal). So my assumption is that you would already take into consideration things like what courses you want, what kind of school environment you want etc.

Thus, i thought to call what i wrote "bad advice" was a little harsh. :)

As for whether brand matters, my 2 cents is it definitely does. Until you have proven yourself career wise, then of course, nobody really cares. This is from the point of view of someone who worked in the US for 6 years and is currently in the midst of trying to hire 2 people in this crazy Singapore labour market, I do pay attention to brand of university. In the US, I worked in IBM in San Jose in the marketing/strategy team, my colleagues were exclusively Stanford, Cornell and MIT. And then you have me, from Indiana U. I remember my manager telling me "Indiana is a reputable MBA too." She was trying to console me. :o The company's management are Harvard, MIT and some Stanford. It's no secret these school's alumni networks are very powerful. Of course, not every one is from those schools but it does show that where you are educated does play a part in career opportunities.

Last, all you have to do is look at data on starting salaries of grads from various universities to know there is a very wide variation of valuation of such grads. Bearing in mind, we are talking about AVERAGES and not outlying points. As such, there will always be arguments either way or examples proving either extremes. But anyway, opposing opinions are good!

Michelle
01-11-2008, 05:33 PM
KOO86:

Actually, you are not allowed to work while studying in the US. Your F1 visa only allow you to work on campus and even that is limited to certain number of hours. You can, however, do internships. So I would advise doing that. Many students secure permanent jobs from their internships. In addition, upon graduating, you can apply for a 1 year practical training visa which will allow you to join any company. If you want to work beyond 1 year you will need to get a company to sponsor you for the H1b visa.

As for being recruited before graduation, that is absolutely true. Many companies actively travel to the schools to recruit, often during the last semester. And yes, many Singaporean students do try to work in the US after graduating (pay better, like the lifestyle there). We used to have a whole bunch of us in the SF Bay Area. :)

Dudboi
01-12-2008, 09:17 AM
Michelle, I'm sorry if that was too harsh, I was just trying to say it like it is.

I mean, it's probably not bad advice, but what I was trying to get at is that it paints an unnecessarily easy picture of how school-choosing will be. Most of the kids who may find their way here probably have no idea where to begin, and to start them off thinking that rankings are the holy grail would prevent them from knowing all the other wonderful schools out there.

And I believe there seems to be some idea that there's a correlation between ranking and prestige. I'm sure schools like NYU and SUNY Buffalo are more well known (even if only in NY) than other schools which are higher ranking than they are.

Sure, everyone knows HYPSM, but for the most part, shouldn't who you are and what you bring to the table be more important than which bunch of old buildings you went to?

Michelle
01-23-2008, 12:11 PM
Hi dudboi,

Totally agree with you on the lack of correlation between rankings and prestige. Look at Cambridge, look at Princeton. When I was looking to apply for my MBA school (way back in the mid 90s), both were ranked horribly at the bottom, but if you look at the application and acceptance stats, it would seem like a lot of people were still dying to get into these schools. That's prestige for you. Or to a marketing major like me, it's brand equity. Once you got that, you can put a stamp on anything and it will sell (at least for a good while) :p But to their credit, I did hear both programs have improved quite a bit.

As for getting a piece of paper from a bunch of old bricks, well, look at it from an employer's point of view. As an employer, I really have no clue what you can do or how good you are. There are a couple of ways I can make educated guesses - your past/track record, face to face assessments and referrals. To do either of the last 2 would take a lot of time if say I got 50 applicants per job. It's simply not practical. That leaves me the past records which usually comes in the form of a resume.

When you have resumes that run into the hundreds, what do you do? You screen, you shortlist. At the top of your list would be resumes that comes from schools you recognise as good (ct. paribus). It's a natural thing to do. Because since I don't have first hand knowledge of someone, the best I can do is to to infer from the colleges that already accepted and assessed that person. To enter a good college and graduate, you have already been "blessed" by that school's standards. Will I miss out a good candidate by this method? Of course. Do I care? Probably not because frankly, I wont know it and I am really too busy to worry about it either.

That's the reality of it. It's probably not very pc to say that but it's true. So perhaps a middle road would be good. Keep rankings, prestige,recognition in mind but don't let it dominate your decision process. Look for schools and programs you really like. Have your cake and eat it. :)

koo86
07-13-2008, 10:56 AM
Hey, I would like to know whether these schools are good for Information Systems Management/MIS ? Any insights on how the schools are ?? :p

-Babson College
-University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
-Rutger's University
-Rochester Institute of Technology
-University of Washington
-Lehigh University
-University of Southern California
-Georgetown University.

patryn33
05-28-2009, 09:50 PM
Ya.. Americans are only conern with USA!
a duplicate post.. if someone is looking for such info regarding MIS

2007 USNEWs Undergrad, U should be able to get a feel from USNEWS webby
Management Info System
1. MIT (Sloan)
2. Carnegie Mellon Uni
3. UT - Austin (Mccombs)
4. Uni of Arizona (Eller)
5. Uni of Minnesota - Twin Cities (Carlson)

2008 USNEWs Management Info System Undegrad
1. Carnegie Mellon Uni
2. MIT (Sloan)
3. UT - Austin (Mccombs)
4. Uni of Arizona (Eller)
5. Uni of Minnesota - Twin Cities (Carlson)

2009 USNEWs Management Information Systems (System Info Biz or Biz IT) Undergrad
1. MIT
2. Carnegie Mellon University
3. University of Texas--Austin
4. Uni of Arizona - Eller
5. University of Maryland--College Park
6. Uni of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Carlson)
7 University of Pennsylvania
8. Georgia State University
9. University of Georgia
10 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

USNEWS 2007/2008
MBA Business Specialties: Information System
1. MIT (Sloan)
2 Carnegie Mellon Uni (Tepper)
3. Uni of Texas - Austin (McCombs)
4 Uni of Minnesota - Twin Cities (Carlson)
5 Uni of Arizona (Eller)
6 Uni of Maryland - College Park (Smith)
7 Uni of Penn (Wharton)
8 Stanford
9 NYU (Stern)
10 Georgia State (Robinson)
11 Indiana Uni - Bloomington (Kelly)
12 Uni of Mich (ROSS)
13 Uni of California - Berkeley (Haas)
14 Purdue Uni -West Lafayette (Krannert)
15 Arizona State (Carey)
15 Uni of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
17 Uni of Georgia (Terry)
18 Uni of California - Irvine (Merage)
18 Uni of Pittsburgh (Katz)
20 Bentley College (McCallum)
20. Case Western Reserve (Weatherhead)
20 Northwestern Uni (Kellogg)
20 Uni of Washington
24 Georgia Tech
24 Harvard
24 UCLA (Anderson)
24 USC (Marshall)
24 Uni of Connecticut

xylee
06-11-2009, 02:21 AM
hey there...

I'm a poly grad who was recently awarded the DSTA Overseas Scholarship. I would really appreciate some tips on which US uni's do poly grads "usually apply to" to minimize wasting time and $$ on application fees. Also, I don't want to end up in a "powerful uni" but struggling to cope. Any tips on that?

I studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering in poly and will be doing the same at undergrad level. Any US uni that is reputable in EEE and 1) doesn't need SAT 2 results to apply and 2) will defer enrollment for 2 years NS lapse?

I just did my SAT 1; results out on 25 June. Any suggestions on what to do to prepare any applications, etc?

Thanks in advance! :D

patryn33
06-23-2009, 02:13 AM
IIRC, try UiUC, UMICH, UT-Austin, Uni Wisconsin, georgia tech.
I am pretty sure U have no problem gong to Purdue.

not sure if they willl defer for 2yrs..

koo86
06-23-2009, 10:15 AM
Hey congratulations xylee, you can check out Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology or the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering at Babson College

cleanerdung
06-23-2009, 10:37 AM
Hey congratulations xylee, you can check out Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology or the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering at Babson College

That will be quite unusual choices for a DSTA scholar :)

Besides, Olin is a separate entity from Babson right?

koo86
06-23-2009, 08:55 PM
Hahah yeah, i'm just offering different alternatives to xylee, I mean there are so many great schools in the states besides the ivy league. Just a matter of choosing the one that has the right culture for you =)

patryn33
06-23-2009, 11:29 PM
Hey congratulations xylee, you can check out Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology or the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering at Babson College

IIRC Olin award merit scholarship to every student admitted. The Econ today... might have change things bit.

anyway DSTA bonded, Olin award no bond..

xylee
06-24-2009, 11:59 PM
IIRC, try UiUC, UMICH, UT-Austin, Uni Wisconsin, georgia tech.
I am pretty sure U have no problem gong to Purdue.

not sure if they willl defer for 2yrs..

any idea which US universities are "more popular" among poly grads? :confused:

patryn33
06-25-2009, 12:06 AM
any idea which US universities are "more popular" among poly grads? :confused:

poly? maybe Purdue... I think U find more in USC.
the rest, plenty of JC ppl.. UMICH plenty of RJ ppl doing engineering

jacksamwhite
02-23-2011, 02:11 PM
I think college and university ranking always matters. Then comes affordability and quality of life in campuses. One should choose a college keeping in mind all the above things.

mengshuen
02-23-2011, 07:50 PM
I think college and university ranking always matters. Then comes affordability and quality of life in campuses. One should choose a college keeping in mind all the above things.
People usually talk about the fit of the college. While generally it is true, I find that almost all Singaporean applicants cannot find out about the fit of the college, because we don't usually participate in their prefrosh activities. The thing we should look out for will therefore be the general vibe of the college i.e. is it known as a preppy/religious/geeky etc school. There are other factors to consider... such as location, student population etc.

However, here comes the tricky issue. Should I choose a higher ranked college over some other school that probably that fits me better?

There is no correct answer to this question. If you're going to work in a highly competitive field, a "better" college will give you certain advantages in the workforce. However, if you know you'd be miserable in that college, then forget it. Since it is extremely unlikely to be accepted to all the top colleges, you may not always have the choice to choose your "best-fit". Instead, I feel that you should just classify colleges into three broad groups: the no-fit/might-fit/sure-fit schools. If you're accepted by the college that is your reach + sure-fit, talk to your seniors to learn more about it. If it sounds ideal that you're going to spend the next four years there, congrats!

Otherwise, for those "might-fit" colleges, the most important thing is to learn much more about it. It might tilt your opinion of the school one way or another, and at this time, it might be good to consider the rankings and general perception of that school.

nicoletee
06-30-2011, 10:46 AM
The key is to make your decision with full information, not just based on 'gut feel'. Do not compromise on the time you invest to research the different universities properly, and keep an open mind. As Mengshuen said, while the more popular, top-ranked colleges may be top-of-mind for you, there may be other lesser-known, but no less prestigious ones, that are a better fit for what you are looking for.

Examples of things you may want to consider when making your decision are academics (rankings of overall university and specific departments; quality of faculty - particularly if you are interested in doing research; student-faculty ratio); location (city, near a city, rural; East Coast; West Coast); student life (type of societies/clubs on campus, greek society life like fraternities and sororities); availability of financial aid (which universities have generous financial aid policies that do not distinguish between local residents and international students) and many many more! So take the time to think through what you want to achieve out of your college years (and investment), and research which universities will best meet your criteria.

People usually talk about the fit of the college. While generally it is true, I find that almost all Singaporean applicants cannot find out about the fit of the college, because we don't usually participate in their prefrosh activities. The thing we should look out for will therefore be the general vibe of the college i.e. is it known as a preppy/religious/geeky etc school. There are other factors to consider... such as location, student population etc.

However, here comes the tricky issue. Should I choose a higher ranked college over some other school that probably that fits me better?

There is no correct answer to this question. If you're going to work in a highly competitive field, a "better" college will give you certain advantages in the workforce. However, if you know you'd be miserable in that college, then forget it. Since it is extremely unlikely to be accepted to all the top colleges, you may not always have the choice to choose your "best-fit". Instead, I feel that you should just classify colleges into three broad groups: the no-fit/might-fit/sure-fit schools. If you're accepted by the college that is your reach + sure-fit, talk to your seniors to learn more about it. If it sounds ideal that you're going to spend the next four years there, congrats!

Otherwise, for those "might-fit" colleges, the most important thing is to learn much more about it. It might tilt your opinion of the school one way or another, and at this time, it might be good to consider the rankings and general perception of that school.