University is the final platform that launches you into the world of work and can potentially shape the rest of your life. This is why it’s so important to pick the right Uni, especially as you will be spending three plus years there. Just like when you are considering buying a car or a house, University should also be treated as a long term investment. Although parents or guardians should have a say in overseeing where you go to Uni, ultimately it is up to you as an individual to decide, and to justify your reasons for wanting to go to a particular Uni. After all, it will be you who is actually studying for the degree; so without further ado, below are a list of things to consider when choosing what Uni you want to go to:
1. Do I stay (at home) or do I go now? (Yes this was an Artic Monkey’s reference).
The prospect of going to University is so exciting to many students for it offers them the chance to move away from home and to experience living in an area of the country (or the world if you want to be an international student), that is completely different to where they have grown up. This also allows such students to become more independent and learn to stand on their own two feet. However, some students cannot afford to move away and pay the additional rent prices that their maintenance loan might not cover. Therefore, finance is definitely something to also consider when choosing what Uni you want to go to. Personally I commute to Uni and it has been the best option for me, I don’t feel like I have missed out on the ‘University experience’ as I can still stay over at my friends’ flats, I have the security net of my family around me for support, and ultimately I am saving thousands of pounds’ worth of money a year!
2. Money. Money. Money.
As briefly mentioned in the point above, money is a huge factor to consider when choosing what Uni you want to go to. If you commute, you will save lots of money which is very tempting considering tuition fees can be over £9000 a year, so it’s great if you don’t have to add to this additional outstanding debt. However, if you do wish to move away, you need to consider additional costs such as housing and whether or not your maintenance loan will be enough to cover it, and if you will have to support yourself or rely on your parents for money to cover additional expenditures. If your parents can only partly contribute, you may wish to look for job opportunities on or near Uni campuses that could potentially see you through each year of study.
3. How does the structure of your course vary between different Universities?
It’s not as simple as saying that you can go to any University as long as they provide the course you want to do. For example, an an English literature student I found that each Uni I viewed beforehand structured the course differently in terms of: the amount of lectures and seminars per week, the style of assessment whether the Uni was essay or exam heavy, the texts studied by each University, the different modules, and lastly, the different eras studied within an English literature degree. Because each degree is so vast, it is crucial to pinpoint which University will allow you to study your interests.
4. Entry Requirements and your Second Choice.
You need to be realistic about whether or not you can meet certain Uni entry requirements- there is no point putting your first choice down if you know realistically you won’t be able to get the grades. This is not me being pessimistic, but practical. Talk to your teachers and decide what is achievable and then select Universities accordingly. If you are reasonable about your own abilities you are more than likely to perform better rather than putting too much pressure on yourself, and if you do get higher grades than expected, you can always try to apply for a different Uni or go through clearing. It is also worth putting a second choice that has lower entry requirements because if for some reason you don’t get the grades needed for your first choice, then you should be guaranteed your second choice.
5. What do you want to do after Graduation?
It isn’t an issue if you are clueless as to what you want to do after you graduate, but if you have a small inkling, it’s a good idea to consider going to a Uni that offers schemes or work placements to help you gain necessary experience to get your ideal job. For example, one of the main reasons I chose to go to Queen Mary University of London, is due to their vast array of initiatives such as QProject, QIntern, QMentoring- all of which help you make key contacts and network with potential employers in the industry of your choice.
6. Does a particular Uni offer bursaries or scholarships?
Any way that you can save money when going to University will greatly benefit you in the long run. If a particular Uni has additional incentives such as bursaries for the course you want to do, it might be worth going to this Uni so as to alleviate some of the financial strain on your and your parents’ bank account!
7. Attend as many open days as possible.
I cannot fathom how anyone can decide what University they want to go to without actually viewing the Uni in person. It is a good idea to view your top Unis several times and at different times of the day. This way you will be more likely to see if you can actually envision yourself going there, and you will get a feel for the other students, University staff and lecturers. You want to know that the lecturers feel as strongly about your subject degree as you do, and that you will be engaged and stimulated throughout your time at Uni. This is a really important factor when choosing what Uni you want to go to.
Sure everybody knows that Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge are up there with the best, but it is very important to check the rankings of ALL Universities. Some might be higher or lower than you expected, and this will also help you discover Universities that you might not have considered going to before. When researching, it is best to look at overall rankings, but also the rankings of the course you want to do across different Universities. Because the quality of the teaching and performance of individual courses is ultimately more of a priority than the Uni’s reputation.
So there you have it, a list of things to consider when choosing what Uni you want to go to. Can you think of any other factors worth mentioning when choosing what Uni you want to go to? If so, then answer in the comments section below.
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My name is Nicole Brownfield and I am 20 years old. I am studying English Literature and going into my 3rd and final year of Queen Mary University, London in September. I am currently the Editor-In-chief of my University magazine 'CUB' and my dream is to pursue a career in journalism after I graduate. I love living in London and am obsessed with sourcing out food and drink places, as well as exploring the parts of London I have never been to before. My boyfriend and I have recently turned pescatarian and this symbolises my goal to constantly keep bettering myself and to stay healthy and disciplined. Every day I try and achieve something as I want to look back and be proud of the life I have lived, and to make my family proud too.