Narrowing down your choice of university to find the perfect fit for you can be a pretty daunting task.
Every university is different and every student wants different things. So how can you be sure that you’re making the right decision for you? Inevitably, it will require a lot of research, so prepare to feel drowned in prospectuses for a while. But as well as that, keep in mind that your choice of university affects your social life as well as your professional life. So don’t forget to look beyond the prospectus when it comes to making your decision.
Here are a few of our top tips to help you make the big decision on which university is right for you.
1. Consider the entire student experience.
As mentioned before, your choice of university will not only affect your professional life, but your social life, too. That’s why it’s so important to consider the entire student experience when it comes to making your decision. Much is made of the academic rankings of universities – with the entire student experience often being an afterthought.
If you get to university only to find that you’re not so much of a fan of the campus culture or surroundings in general, you’re going to have a difficult three (or more) years ahead of you – and that’s the last thing that you want.
Thankfully, universities across the UK are hugely diverse. You can choose from student-orientated cities such as Leeds or Liverpool – if you’re all about the student night-life, these cities might just be the perfect pick for you, as you’ll always find something to do on a night out. On the other hand, you might want to choose something a little bit more spread out – such as a London institution – so as not to feel so contained.
Don’t forget to consider the student services that will be available to you – do the active clubs and societies appeal to your hobbies and interests? Is the Student Union active and something you might see yourself getting involved with? All these factors contribute to the entire student experience, and what you will get out of it.
2. Talk to other students.
So what can you do besides trawl through a million and one prospectuses? Well – you can talk to other students. There’s nothing quite like hearing about first-hand experience, and you can rest assured that it will be from an honest perspective.
As well as that, don’t be afraid to speak to the university directly. Generally, they are always happy to answer any questions you might have, and will always greatly appreciate a well-researched application.
3. Research the accommodation.
It’s a no-brainer – but one of the most important things to consider when deciding which university is right for you is of course where you might live. Your first year will be vital, as you’ll likely find yourself living in student accommodation. Do a little research to find out what facilities will be available whilst you live there, the cost, how close it is to campus, what kind of area it will be in, etc.
That being said, don’t forget to consider first year and beyond. Do some research on the student-orientated areas of your new city, to get an idea of where you might be living for the duration of your time at university. If for any reason you feel unsure about the location or any other factor, you should consider whether the university as a whole will be right for you.
4. Get a feel for the place.
Open days exist for a reason – so don’t hesitate to take advantage for them! You might be moving to university in a brand new city that you’ve never stepped foot into before – the last thing you want is to immediately feel unsure or uncomfortable when you’ve arrived with all of your belongings.
Open days offer much more than a walk around the university building – you can attend sample lectures, get a tour of the accommodation, see the SU and so much more.
As well as that, attending your university’s open day gives you the perfect opportunity to get a feel for your course. Speak to lecturers, admissions tutors and current students. At the end of the day, the course is one of the most important (if not the most important) element of choosing where to apply. So be sure to understand exactly what the course involves, such as modules and methods of assessment. Does it suit your learning-style? Will it fit in with your long-term career goals? How much flexibility is there? How many hours a week will you be required to attend lectures? Does it have the learning facilities that you expect, and will ultimately need? These are all essential questions to be asking.
5. A few other things to consider.
The last things that you think about when it comes to choosing which university is right for you might just be some of the most important factors when the time comes for your big move. Are you thinking of moving far away? Will you be able to get all of your belongings there safely? Should you consider using a student shipping service?
Distance from home can often be an afterthought – usually within the first term when you’re experiencing your first bout of homesickness and could do with a weekend spent with your loved ones back home. If that sounds like something you want to be able to do easily (not to mention cheaply) perhaps consider attending university locally, as opposed to the opposite end of the country.
Choosing which university is right for you can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Start as early as you possibly can and take your research seriously, taking everything into consideration. That way, you can be sure you’ll be making the right decision.
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