Beginning the University Selection Process

After deciding on what you hope to gain with your university degree, you can begin to consider the specific universities that will help you achieve your main goals.  There are several different types of universities out there.  Each type has its own characteristics.  While you may believe these don’t matter to you, in fact, they matter very much.  The type of university you attend will deeply affect your intellectual and academic experience.

As there are essentially three levels of degrees, Baccalaureate, Master’s, and Doctoral, there are essentially three levels of institutions, corresponding with the three degree types. [1]  If you want to get a Doctorate, you have to go to an institution that offers them; your choices will be more limited than if you wish to pursue a Bachelor’s degree, as Bachelor’s degrees can be earned at all three levels of institutional category.  Since you’re about to embark on your journey to a Bachelor’s degree and may not yet have advanced degrees in your sights, you may be tempted to believe it doesn’t matter what level of university you choose, since you can get your degree at any of them.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Each institution has its own culture of expected standards.  Universities with higher level academics in the mix will, or at the very least should, have the highest academic standards.  This is based on numerous reasons, which are the subject of another article.  It is at the institutions with the highest academic standards where you will receive the highest quality education; these will also be the most difficult academically.  The quality of education you receive will influence your future thinking processes – and your ability to compete in the working world.  As you go down the line from universities offering Doctoral degrees to those terminating with Master’s degrees and ultimately to those where only Baccalaureate degrees are offered, you can expect certain characteristics to follow – all of which will affect your intellectual and social experiences at college, and your entire lifetime of thinking and progressing socially.

In making the decision of where to attend college, it’s worthwhile to find out the highest level of degree your institutions of interest offer.  This is not to say that you should always choose the institution that offers the highest degree choice, but rather, what type of institution you choose will affect your experience in the short run, and your skills in the long run, so you should be informed of these differences and give this point careful consideration.


[1] There are actually several additional classification types, but for our purposes in discussing traditional education, the three main areas are presented here.

Michele Poff, Ph.D.

Michele Poff, PhD holds a PhD in Communication from University of Washington, an MA in Applied Linguistics from Portland State University, and a BA in English from University of California at Berkeley.She has taught university Communication courses for 6 years, and English language courses for 13 years.As both an educator and a student, Michele has been involved with numerous colleges and universities both on the U.S. west coast and overseas.These involvements have given her insights to the academy’s functions and processes as a whole, rather than at one university or another.Today, Michele owns and operates a Strategic Communication Consulting firm, Accomplish, LLC (http://accomplishcomm.com), and helps individuals and companies take the next step on their road of ambition.Accomplish, LLC offers the full spectrum of strategic communication consulting services, while Michele specializes primarily in academic editing and course development.