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How to get into the top universities in the world

How to get into the top universities in the world

After spending many years in a school where you’ve learned to walk, a university is where you can learn to fly. This is why selecting the right university and the right undergraduate (bachelors) degree is so important.

You’ll find several universities that have been around for centuries, and others that have only recently been started. Some may offer only a handful of degrees and a limited amount of specialization, while others could offer a mind-numbing number of courses to choose from. No wonder it gets so confusing.

Universities may have several departments, with each department focusing on a defined academic area. For instance, all business related courses may be offered by a business school, which is one of the many departments hosted by a university.

Universities can offer degrees at various levels – including undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels.

The top universities in the world attract the best and the brightest students from across the globe. International students see a lot of benefit – like learning from the best professors, intercultural experience, accessing international career opportunities.


How to select the right university and undergraduate degree?

Young students, who are fresh out of their high-schools, are usually bombarded with education choices that are more often determined under peer or parent pressure. Consulting with the knowledgeable is always a good first step, but the final line in the sand is, and should be, determined by the students. Stepping into the adult shoes also requires the students to think ahead, beyond the three or four years of undergraduate studies they are about to embark upon. Here are some essential quick pointers to keep in mind.

  • Choose a degree that you are keen on: As trite as it may sound, chances are you will be continuing on a path of higher-education or profession in the same field. If you choose wisely, it will save you the trouble of being stuck in a major that means little to you. Yes, career change is an option, but it is never too early to introspect.
  • Choose the right institution: Right institution refers to a combination of good and reputed faculty, student friendly resources, teacher to student ratio, established alumni and an active alumni network, and the reputation of the institute. Going forward, these can play crucial roles in creating a healthy education experience.
  • Value of the Degree: The degree should be an instrument to open up possibilities for establishing yourself in your chosen field. If the degree itself has very little value or ends up closing more doors than it opens, students might be left cornered in an unproductive path with no future.

As high-school students, you should not be afraid to explore future options through career counselling, university visits, campus tours, information sessions, and even consultations with faculty members. After all, you are going to be investing in the university with the expectation of due returns.

University Rankings

Universities Rankings are a good place to start your research. Be aware that these rankings are based on a predefined criterion by the publishers, and your preferences and priorities may not be included in them. That is why it is important to do your independent research and not get carried away by them. For starters, here’s a look at what are the top universities in the world – with trivia and more.

Assuming that you have your higher-education field and specialization, degree, financing essentials (to take care of the tuition fee plus other expenses) and motivation, all nicely sorted out, you may want to turn and use these rankings specific to the location to begin your university specific research. Your final list will determine the fate of your application and future prospects.

In the tables, below, we have assimilated a short listing of the best universities in the country. There are many excellent schools that are missing in the list as this is simply representative. For a complete listing, we recommend a subject specific ranking list on the many university ranking sites.
Top universities in USA

Top universities in Canada

Top universities in UK

Top universities in Australia

Top universities in Europe

Ranking factors generally depend on academic reputation, teacher to student ratio, faculty credibility, international students, research citations, learning environment, alumni feedback, and more, with varying levels of weights to each. We will add more articles on individual countries and subject specific considerations in the future.

Meanwhile, here are some related links for your information.


How to Apply to the Top Universities?

University admissions have certain common requirements that are similar across the various international study destinations. With elite universities, however, given the demand and the huge number of applications they receive, the admissions process can begin about a year before classes start. Keeping that in mind, if you are looking to apply abroad, as an international student, or study domestically in one of the top universities, for your undergraduate studies, we recommend that you start early to stay ahead in the admissions game.

Most universities will ask undergraduate applicants for the following requirements.

  • Academic Official Transcripts indicating your secondary (12th Standard) results. If the result is not in English, it must be translated in English by the issuing authority. Grading scales should be converted to match the destination university requirements, or the authorities should provide a grading standard in the native education system.
  • School Report usually compiled by a school official like the Principal or Counselor. This report indicates your performance, experience, and candidature in the context of your past history at the school.
  • Letters of Recommendation from teachers who have taught you. The letters can provide a reliable third-party outlook of your candidature. Universities usually have their own recommendation letter format, or specify particular information requirements from the recommender. The letters are usually sealed and communicated directly between the recommender and the admissions committee.
  • Statement of Purpose is not always a requirement, when it comes to undergraduate studies. However, many universities may insist on the SoP to obtain better assessment of the applicant. SoP is a personal essay reflecting your career goals, motivation to study at the particular university or program, and other details pertaining to the application.
  • Application Fee is usually a requirement. However, it may get waived upon request and/or demonstration of financial hardship.
  • Financial Aid letter may be submitted to make a case for financial assistance.
  • Standardized Tests are usually a must for most universities. The main ones are TOEFL to demonstrate fluency in English, ACT or SAT scores, and the less common SAT II Subject Tests, if the program so requires it.
  • Admissions Tests are asked for in many courses that don’t necessarily require a standardized test score. Testing also depends on the subject area of interest, such as the Sciences. Many universities also arrange Interviews among the shortlisted applicants. This interview, in the case of international students, is often held over the telephone or internet.

To make it into the top universities, good academic record is a given. Also important are the test scores and a wholesome school experience, complete with extra-curricular and volunteer work. Most of these stellar universities receive thousands of applications with near single digit acceptance rates (about 5% for Harvard). Such high competition demands that the applicants should set themselves apart by achieving their maximum potential. How have you used your time? What kind of initiatives have you taken or are willing to take? How motivated are you? What kind of commitment do you have for your interests? How well can you handle extreme pressure? Do you work well with others? What do you hope to achieve from an experience at XYZ (read Ivy) university?

Read these related posts.


TOEFL, ACT and SAT Preparation

The standardized test scores are used to evaluate applicants on a fixed baseline.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests the proficiency in English as required to successfully participate in most international university course structures. It is offered by ETS or the Educational Testing Services. The test can be attempted both on the internet (iBT) or on paper (PBT). Good TOEFL scores are usually in the range of 80-90 on the iBT and 580-600 on the PBT. Other possible alternatives to TOEFL are the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and PTE (Pearson Test of English). Here are a few links related to the test.

ACT (American College Testing) is the accepted undergraduate test score in USA and Canada. SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores are accepted in Australia, UK, Singapore, and Canada, on top of USA. Both exams test writing, comprehension and Math skills. ACT also has an additional Science section. These tests are designed to suit high-school difficulty. Here are some links for further information.


Financing your Undergraduate Studies

Cost of education is a big deal when it comes to international degrees in the US or anywhere abroad. Apart from the living costs, the tuition itself can run close to $50,000 in the US, for most top universities. Europe can be a bit cheaper with average cost of tuition running about $5,000 in Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, etc. UK, Netherlands, Denmark, etc may be somewhat higher of the order of $10,000-$20,000.

Most students may find it handy to have a financial plan – funding options, scholarships, financial aid, and more. Explore your options well in advance and refer to the links below for relevant information.


University Admissions

Once you have your application in, the university will decide and let you know their decision. Upon which, they will send you the necessary paperwork to prepare you for your journey abroad on a student visa. On that account, here are a few associated bits of wisdom for your study abroad.

Given the increasing competition every year for a few seats at the top universities, many applicants take the help of higher education counsellors. If you are planning to study abroad in the best universities in the world and need help to build your profile and application, send us an email [info at mbacrystalball dot com]. We’ll connect you to the right mentor.

Here’re our reviews from successful candidates who we have assisted in making it into the highly competitive and coveted universities abroad.


Graduate Degrees – Top Universities and Programs around the world

Why stop at undergrad? If you would like to come back in a few years and explore your options for graduate level education abroad, here’s where you can make a great start.

Research your options. Don’t hold back on your full potential and hope you can accomplish the most with your best.
Good Luck!