So, it’s come to that time: you’ve finally got to decide what you’re going to do with your future and you’ve decided university is the path for you. Deciding on where to go definitely isn’t easy, but here’s hoping my top 10 tips will help you with what to look for in a university.
Always study something you’re genuinely interested in and that you will enjoy: it’s not about what your parents want, what your friends are doing or what you think you will benefit from most, it’s about how much you enjoy the course. Simply put: the more you enjoy your course the more effort you put in and the more passionate you are about your subject, which reflects well with employers no matter what you studied.
The location (geographical)
Maybe a journey involving two helicopters, five hours by train and a half hour mountain trek isn’t ideal. You also need to think about how far away from home you’re comfortable being, and how practical it is to move all of your belongings in and out of your room at the end of each year (or even term).
If, like me, you’re from the countryside and spend your days back home surrounded by more sheep than people, big cities like London may terrify you. You may want a campus University or one spread out over a city: think about it and explore the options.
The entry requirements
Always be realistic: are you capable of achieving those grades? Always choose at least one course to aim high for, but don’t be upset if you don’t get in.
The University’s overall ranking and the ranking for your course are important: employers will look at the rankings to effectively see how impressive it is that you managed to get a place on that particular course at your particular University. Of course, not everyone will get in to a Top 10 University, but the higher you can go the better.
The open days
I always like a University that makes an effort for open days. It shows that they care about encouraging you to choose them. You can assume that if they’re making an effort for potential students, they’ll make an effort for current students as well.
Everyone has extra-curricular interests and every University has the facilities to cater for them. Although, not all of them will cater for you. Say you’re really into sport: it’s not too useful if the sports department consists of a basement gym and a field on the other side of the town.
It seems too far away to think about, but some day you will graduate and you will need a job. Throughout your time at university you’ll might want to do work experience and internship. Check that the University will be able to help you along with this.
The local area
You can’t spend all of your time on the campus. Make sure there are things you like to do available in the town. And after your first year you’ll probably be living in a private house. Think ahead: will you enjoy living here?
Go on tours of the University accommodation and try to imagine living there. It helps to look around the halls you’ll want to live. AND the ones at the very bottom of your preferences, just because you might end up there.
Good luck with your UCAS applications!
Written by Ruth H.