Higher Education Institution is your investment for the Future

103

Learners usually regard higher education as a springboard for lucrative careers or professional fulfillment. They understand that an advanced education paves the way for an affluent lifestyle and empowers them to support their dependents. But, higher education is more than just a means to a fat paycheck. It is also a medium for self-improvement, social awareness and patriotism, to say the least. More importantly, education gives young learners the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to society and humanity as a whole. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) guide students to solve problems, deal with other people, and align personal ambitions with relevant local and global goals.

Given the importance of higher education, students should keep a number of key factors in mind as they consider their study options in accordance with their desired objectives. Here are a few points to ponder about.

Accreditation

Accreditation indicates that a prospective school has been vetted by a respected organization which has done an extensive assessment of the curriculum and its adherence to basic academic standards. Most schools provide information on their academic acceptance on their websites and although a simple call or email to the Admissions Department will suffice to answer basic queries, it is imperative that you check the school’s standing with the Regulatory Authority. It is also important to research the admission requirements of your preferred university and applicable course qualifications to ensure that you meet their criteria. There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. There are also special accreditations for specific schools, departments and programmes which ensure that the degree will be recognized by employers and other HEIs.

Moreover, accreditations also protect unaware students from scams. Many have been unknowing recipients of fake degrees from ‘fly-by-night’ schools.

Academic Stature

Several universities are recognized for their exceptional academic research. This strong reputation could provide an edge for future employment and career advancement. However, students should avoid making stature the main factor for their choice. Many lesser known and less expensive schools are just as competitive as their more popular peers. It would be wise to personally visit the university, sit in class sessions, and gain insights from campus tutors and other students.

Quality of Delivery

To be the best, you have to learn from the best. Students should get a feel of the quality of their prospective school’s faculty. They should evaluate faculty qualifications, professionalism, real-world skills, and their willingness to go the extra mile to provide guidance on career goals, offer sound advice, and help identify strengths and leverage opportunities. Good teachers ensure that their wards are geared for personal and professional success.

Academic facilities are also vital to the delivery of quality education, so check out the library, laboratories and other support facilities during the school’s Open Days.

Curriculum

Obviously, the candidate HEI’s programmes should include the specific course the student is interested in. But aside from catering to an enrollee’s preference, a college with a variety of courses will provide flexibility and a good set of alternatives, should the student opt to shift or pursue another field.

Location

The mantra of ‘location, location, location’ is not exclusive to the marketing domain. The location of the school campus will affect the frequency and cost of traveling home, and access to public transportation and a healthy social life.

Cost

Students need to figure out if they can afford the school of their choice and if they can acquire financial aid or be eligible for a scholarship if that’s an available option. Also, costs go beyond tuition fees. Textbooks, food, projects, lodging and additional fees can compound very quickly. The cost element drives home the point of how schools should be a good investment and boost one’s earning potential and employment appeal post-graduation.

Employability

People who pursue higher education want to ultimately land their dream job, so it would be advantageous to choose a university that offers good job placements. A well-established placement scheme heightens employability, which would position a student ahead of the competition even before he or she has graduated.

‘Success is where preparation and opportunity meet,’ according to the legendary American automobile racer Robert Unser. Indeed, personal and professional development requires a lot of preparation and even more hard work and determination. Higher education offers an opportunity to harness one’s full potential and mold productive members of society. The choice of a higher education institution is therefore one of the biggest decisions an individual can ever make and should be done with all factors and long-term consequences in mind.

By: Anselm Godinho, Managing Director of International Conferences and Exhibitions (IC&E)