Three Tips for Choosing a University

Three years ago, in March 2013, I received my admission letter from the University of Rochester in the mail at my host family’s home in New Hampshire. At the time, I didn’t realize what a huge milestone this was in my life, because my life was completely changed the moment I decided to come to Rochester.


Choosing a university can be a daunting but exciting experience. This will likely be your first time living completely on your own, taking care of yourself. However, this will also probably be the first time you’ve ever had so much freedom to make major life choices, and you’ll start to learn so much about yourself. This decision will change the rest of your life. Before you make this choice, I have a few tips for you:

  1. Visit the schools that admitted you! Before I made my final decision, I visited the University of Rochester on my own. I stayed overnight in Tiernan (one of the freshman dorms on the quad), chatted with current students, enjoyed pleasant meals in Danforth Dining Center, and attended a special luncheon in Rush Rhees Library, hosted by the Office of Admissions. I felt like a real college student that day, and by the time I got on the bus back to New Hampshire, I was so sure that Rochester would be my home for the next four years. So visiting your potential school choices is very important; you will learn about the school culture and understand the school so much better when you go on that tour!
  2. Talk to your family and guidance counselor. I had extensive conversations about college choices with my parents and counselor before I made the final decision. We discussed scholarships, location, culture, size, and the curriculum of each school that admitted me. My parents’ and guidance counselor’s more experienced and practical views helped me realize that a medium-sized, private institution with an open curriculum in the Northeast would help me most in the future for career development. Their words and encouragement helped me finalize my choice.
  3. Listen to your own heart and understand yourself. Last but not least, ask yourself a few questions: What do you want to study in college? What are your potential career choices? What kind of experiences you are looking for in college? You know yourself best. Choose the school that has opportunities that will help you most for future professional and personal development.

When I first moved into my freshman dorm in Hoeing back in the fall of 2013, I had no idea what I wanted to study or what I wanted to pursue as a future career (not to mention whom I would become friends with).  Now, I have decided to major in electrical and computer engineering, have had academic research and teaching experiences, and have gained valuable friendships. I am not that timid Chinese girl anymore; now I am more confident and ready for more adventures in life. The University of Rochester had shaped me into who I am today and I am thankful for all the opportunities the school has offered me!

About the author

Sophie Zhang

I'm a member of Class of 2017 majoring in electrical and computer engineering and minoring in biomedical engineering. I'm originally from Chongqing, China, but I spent my junior and senior year of high school in Concord, New Hampshire. I am a campus tour guide, a brother of Alpha Phi Omega community service Fraternity and a contributing writer at Campus Times. I will also become a freshmen Resident Advisor and a senior interviewer next year. I am excited to meet all of you, Class of 2020 and 2021 in person!!!

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