How to Determine the Value of a University

Deciding which school to go to is one of the most important things that recent high school graduates will need to consider. Unfortunately, it can be hard to determine the overall value of a university based on brochures and word-of-mouth alone. Here are the main factors you should use to determine what makes a school valuable.

Programs and Social Events

To start you should consider looking at the various programs that a school might offer. Some schools have truly diverse program collections, ranging from high-quality programs in the arts to cutting-edge programs in the science and engineering fields.

This is crucial, since only certain schools may have the program or major you want to pursue, especially if you have a long-term career in mind and need a specific credential. However, you should also check out the quality of any available programs.

Some schools are renowned for their science and technology programs, for example (such as MIT), while others might be really well-known liberal arts schools (like UC Berkeley). Still more are jacks-of-all-trades, offering excellent degrees for affordable prices, like CSU Fresno. Other universities might be valuable for their social life, Greek life, or networking opportunities. Alumni networks can be powerful tools when you’re looking for work after graduation.


Next, you want to consider the costs of attending such a university. Some schools will undoubtedly be much more affordable than others. However, cost does not necessarily fully correlate with quality.

There are plenty of high-value schools that offer affordable in-state and out-of-state tuition for their students but also offer quality programs and degree options. Since college is a major investment, it’s important that you consider how much it’ll cost you to attend for the duration of your degree program before putting down any money. Even if your career after graduation is lucrative, higher-priced universities may require you to spend longer paying back your student loans than more affordable schools.

Location and Accessibility

Most students will also want to think about location and accessibility. Some schools are pretty close to their hometowns or current jobs, making them great choices. This is especially true if you need to juggle work and school to make ends meet.

However, you should also be aware that many schools offer discounts for out-of-state students in an attempt to draw a more diverse student body. This could influence the last factor and make out-of-state schools particularly attractive, especially for students who want a novel or unique experience.

Accessibility is one last thing to think about. Some schools have really difficult entrance requirements and only accept certain individuals. Ivy League schools are a great example. Of course, this drives up their value – it’s the scarcity rule showing up once again. Other universities are much more accessible for the majority of students, but still offer quality education and can provide useful and valuable degrees.

Putting It All Together

With college costs rising every year, it’s no longer wise to just pick a university and go. You have to consider and balance a multitude of factors to determine whether or not a school is a great place for you.

Fortunately, there are lots of resources to help you determine the ultimate value of a university or which schools have the best value. Use these resources as much as possible and you’ll stand a much better chance of going to a university that’s worth the tuition cost.

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