Choosing which universities to apply to can be a difficult task with so many to choose from. Here we break down the factors that are worth taking into consideration when making your decisions.
Choosing a university – general factors
When choosing a university, there are a few general things you may want to consider before researching more specific factors. These might include:
- Whether you want to attend your local university or move way from home. If you choose to leave home, how far away do you want to be?
- Does the university have all the facilities you require, such as a gym, outdoor sports grounds, car parking, etc?
- How big is the university itself, and how many students attend? Would you prefer to go to a larger or smaller institution?
- Where is the university located? Do you want to go to a university in a big city or somewhere quieter? Remember that the cost of living will be higher in large cities, which may affect your budget significantly.
- Based on your expected A level grades, is it likely you would get onto your course following a conditional offer from the university?
Student support and services
Check whether the university offers all the necessary support to students to maintain their well-being – this includes careers advice, a personal tutor system, counselling, and more.
The social side of university is a very important part of student life, so it’s important to make sure the range of social, sports and cultural activities and clubs offered by the university match your requirements.
Taking a degree isn’t all about studying – you need to balance your life as a student with some fun!
It may take you a little while to find the right balance between working and socialising, but you will find your feet eventually.
Some students let their friend’s choice of university influence their own decision on which institution to attend.
Whilst you may feel better having the security and comfort of your friends around you, it also reduces the chances of you striking up new friendships. This could isolate you from the main crowd, which you don’t really want if you’re going to be studying with these people for three years.
Even if you go to the same university as your friends, you may actually find that you won’t see them very much if they are taking a different course and therefore have a different timetable.
You can also visit the universities you are thinking of applying to by going to one of their open days.
These will be advertised on their website, and will allow you to get the feel of a place by going on a tour with one of the attending students, as well as offering you the opportunity to ask questions about the social environment, facilities, and any other aspects you wish to know more details on.
Don’t forget to contact the university for a prospectus, or grab a copy on the open day, as this will have information on courses and the institution in general.
Making a decision
Having already decided the course you want to do will make narrowing down a university to attend easier.
If you are still uncertain what course you will be taking, it is worthwhile checking out the teaching quality, facilities and social aspects of universities and compare them to try and pinpoint some specific areas where you would be interested in attending university.
Looking at the factors above, it’s important to realise that you should consider many things when choosing your university – there’s no point making a decision based on one or two characteristics, as you are likely to find it doesn’t meet all your needs.
Each university is unique, although won’t appeal to every prospective undergraduate – it may take a bit of research, but hopefully you will find a university that attracts you more than others, and you will know this is the right one for you.