Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Deciding on where to study in Poland may not be easy and the answer to that question is not necessarily intuitive. Should you simply trust rankings of universities or use other tools as well?
It's inherently human behavior to look for the best in terms of pretty much everything: clothes, meals, house, career, partner etc. Unsurprisingly, it also applies to universities that entered that competition race a long time ago. Thanks to popular rankings, we can get a general idea of their meaning and importance on the academic market. But should we trust them implicitly?
We present to you a couple of simple tips aimed at helping you differentiate what's reliable and where you may want to make an additional search of your own.
1. Compare more than just the numbers
Professional ranking of universities in Poland can be a good tool at the beginning of your search. But before jumping to conclusions, it's good to check which criteria were measured, evaluated and added up to the final position in the ranking. Not all of them will be important to you so it's a good idea to filter the results first.
Take into account that some objective benchmarks crucial for defining an overall position of a university may look different if you compare just the majors you're interested in. For example, University A may rank 1st in general, but Economic Studies you apply for may be run much better at University B that was 5th in the ranking.
Is an open access to libraries and versatile resources of a great value to you? Consider running your own search given that specific feature as popular rankings focus usually on more universal ones such as international diversity of students, number of PhDs, number of publications or citing in popular academic titles.
2. Check the offer
If you want to study at a certain type of a school such as Medical University or Academy of Sports - compare only the ones you are truly interested in in terms of the offer. Logic here is simple, e.g. University A was ranked 15th but it was first out of all Banking Schools in the country. If then Banking is what you want to learn, that University is a great choice as 14 other universities from the list may not even have such a narrow major in their offer.
While being interested in a specific field of studies, it's good to see where you'll be able to learn it in English as such a possibility may be limited to only a few places. There are also unique majors unprecedented in a scale of a country so sometimes it may be better to forfeit for example studying in a big city in order to be able to truly pursue your future career goal.
What are the requirements to be admitted? Do you qualify or you have bigger chances somewhere else? Are there any entrance examinations or additional documents that will be required of you at University A but won't be necessary at University B? Save yourself some time and nerves by looking into it before submitting your papers.
3. Talk to students - they know best
Let's face it - our imagination tends to be different from the reality so it's good to support your making choice process with a first-hand experience. Again - don' ask people studying Linguistics what it's like to attend their uni if you plan on choosing Veterinary. Perception of the same university may vary greatly depending on what someone studies.
What is more, things change over the years and what was true 3 years ago may be completely different now. If you find out that students were unhappy with the major you desire to study, dig deeper to see what was the reason. Maybe this unpleasant teacher that has already retired? Maybe not enough practical classes that got doubled by now? Before writing something off, try to get to know the details.
Social media come to help with the groups dedicated to very precisely defined categories such as for instance Journalism & Social Communication Students UMCS 2019-2022. Try to reach out to the people who may have the most recent info but also speak to those more experienced - first year students see things differently than the ones who have finished the entire course.
It all comes down to making your decision as much informed as possible. Be the ultimate judge of what's important to you, evaluate everything to your criteria. Finally, follow your guts and remember - even if you change your mind once on a previously chosen path, it's never to late to turn around and make some changes.