Top tips for choosing the right university
Calling all Future Freshers!
Here are 10 top tips for choosing the right university to suit you.
Here at I Love Student Nights we have learnt a lot along the way, mostly by trial and error, and so thought we could save you the hassle with some top-tips to find the right fit for you.
With over 160 options to choose from, we know how daunting it can be to make a choice that shapes your life forever.
Ten tips for choosing the right university for you.
First start with distance. How far away do you really want to be? Take that into consideration. Do you need to be close enough to still see your family and your friends regularly, or even just to steal food and get your washing done?
Do you want to fly the nest completely or do you think being too far from home could spoil your university experience? Think about the area too – do you prefer a busy city or a quiet rural campus?
Really think about the areas and universities you’re genuinely considering and start to tick off points about these places that suit your personality.
2. Course content
Deciding on your course can sometimes be the easiest part for school leavers.
You also need to decide on the areas you want to focus on within that subject. Look at the previous year’s curriculum too, so you have a rough idea of where you’ll be starting.
If you truly don’t know what you want to do, then look out for universities that are flexible and allow you the opportunity to figure out your areas of interest. But beware, as this could up your time in education and add to costs, too.
3. Career prospects
What percentage of its students go straight into employment or further study after graduating? Is the institution recognised by UK authorities as having UK degree awarding powers?
University is more than just academics. You need to be at a university that supports socialising. You might have a hobby you already love and want to continue wherever you go, or maybe as you spread your wings you want to try something totally new that’s always sparked your interest.
Take a look through what’s available in the lists of societies and clubs on offer as this can be a great way to make friends and keep yourself busy in a productive way.
If a university doesn’t offer the society you want, it isn’t a deal breaker as you can always start one!
Many people find themselves at university or find out a lot about themselves as they experience total independence for the first time.
You might not need it now or ever, but it’s good to know there’s support if you need it.
Take a look into what your university options offer for financing, course materials and how they assist with matters of mental health. Learn about what their protocols are if you need that extra support as we can all run into an array of difficulties.
You might already have things you need a little extra support with like pre-existing mental health issues, a disability or another additional need so be sure to look into what’s available at your respective universities.
International students: we definitely recommend speaking to the universities and students to understand how they go about helping to integrate you into the course, campus and society.
6. Go to open days!
It’s never a wasted time to go and visit the universities you’re considering to get a real feel for the place. If you’re lucky enough to know a student, ask to stay over for the night and go out and explore. There will be so much going on so plan everything in advance and when you’re there, speak to as many people as you can. Take someone with you as you might have a starry-eyed bias and you might need someone subjective to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
It’s 2022, universities should be working hard to make the world a cleaner, greener place. So have a look into their environmental policies around plastic use, food waste and carbon emissions. It isn’t a must to some, but for others it could be a real deal breaker. If you’re in catered halls, and a vegetarian/vegan… what are the options like? Not just on campus, but off-campus too!
8. Look beyond lectures
It isn’t just about the course. This is somewhere you’ll be living for at least three years. Many meet their wives and husbands at university and settle down in the area for years to come.
Find out what’s available outside of the curriculum too – for example, what’s the nightlife like?
Could you see yourself living here? Are there societies/sports teams you can join? Are your hobbies available here, or hobbies you’d like to try?
Do you need a car to get around or is everything fairly contained and within walkable distance?
It’s not just about the cost of the tuition fees and rent – also factor in the area. A busy city could work out a lot more expensive than a rural campus.
Also, studying at a university close to home will usually work out far cheaper than living away. So, do you have financial aid, loans, have you saved? How much will you be living on and do you get any financial support? All these should really factor in to your decision. If you plan on eating out a lot, or going out a lot… is it sustainable?
Make sure you sign up for all the student discount cards and nights out to save money where you can too!
Weighing up all these different scenarios will help you decide on the right Uni for you.
10. Where to look for advice
It can be seriously daunting to know where to start with this one. Here are some great places to start!
- Open days will give you a great feel for the campus, and use any spare time to wander around the city/town and see what’s available to those who live in the area
- Speak to current students (and past students if you’re lucky enough to know any). Student reps might give you a rosier view on things so make sure you speak to others, too! To get a more realistic view, look at student groups on Facebook or the student forums/Twitter and ask questions there for a more honest and well-rounded response. Student ambassadors largely have positive experiences so you want to really get as much information as you can from as many students as you can. It’s a digital age, so you might also be able to find student blogs and vlogs. There are also university websites and social media which lends a helping hand.
- Admission officers are always on hand for more specific questions. Anything you need to know, ask them! I promise you they’ve heard it all.
- Rankings – I mean, it’s always a great place to start as it’s a great indication of how a university’s performing. Depending on what means most to you, rankings will be available online or even give the Uni a call and ask away!
- Speak to your current teachers and mentors if you feel a little lost. They know your strengths and weaknesses, but most of all they know you. Speak to someone you trust and seek guidance where it’s available. They might have been through all of this a little longer ago, but the fundamentals are the same and their advice will be valuable. If you’re lucky, they could point you in the direction of other students of theirs who’ve opted for your chosen university.
Take you time and use these top tips for choosing the right university.
Doing your research is key and finding out more about the best place for to suit you. There’s loads of detailed information about each University in the country at https://www.ucas.com/
We’re always adding to our Tips & Tricks blog giving you some of the best hacks and insights into Student Life. Don’t forget to keep checking back to see what we’re writing about next