Although it's not for everyone, university is a popular next step for lots of people after college or sixth form. Finding the right course and location can be a bit of a minefield though, so we thought we’d help get the ball rolling by giving you a few things to think about over the summer. Let the search begin!
What do you want to study?
This is, fairly obviously, the first thing you should be thinking about when it comes to university; and it can be tricky. There are thousands of courses available, many of which you will never have studied or even heard of before. So how do you make the right choice?
A good place to start is to think about the school subjects you’re most interested in. Then have a look on some university websites to find out which department and faculty that subject belongs to. For example if you like Economics, the University of Bristol website will tell you that the Economics department has 18 different undergraduate courses all related to Economics; most of which you might not have studied but might absolutely love. This is a good place to start, and will open your eyes to what’s out there.
What are your predicted grades?
Entry requirements are also an important thing to consider. Are you on track to meet the required grades for the courses you’re looking at, or should you have a rethink?
Definitely be ambitious, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment. If you’re really not sure about what you can achieve, have a chat with a teacher or UCAS tutor that knows you well. They’ll be able to advise you on what grades they think you can get, and support you along the way!
Where do you want to go?
With so many cities and campuses to choose from in the UK alone, it’s important to have a think early on about what you want to get out of your time at uni, and work out what your priorities are in terms of locations.
First of all, are you more suited to a city or campus environment? Cities are typically busier with more going on in terms of art, culture and nightlife, and students living alongside locals and fully immersing themselves in their environment. City universities often offer a more ‘real world’ living environment, however this can mean that the tight community atmosphere offered by a big campus is lost.
Campus universities tend to feel very safe, and are more of a bridge between school and the real world. Everything you need is in one place, and the sense of community this creates can be a huge comfort to students moving away from home for the first time. Having said that, campus universities tend to be in remoter areas, outside of cities and towns. Have a think about how this might suit you, and where you’d rather spend your three years.
Open days are a brilliant way to figure out both what and where you want to study. They can take a bit of time and effort, particularly if you need to travel a distance to get to the university. However they’re a great way of getting a feel for a place, and and will help you work out whether you can imagine yourself studying and living there full time.
It’s probably unrealistic to visit every single uni that you like the look of, so perhaps single out 3 or 4 that you’d want to see; either because you think they might be the one, or because you’re not sure and you want to get a clearer idea of the place in your head. Try and see one campus and one city uni at least, so that you can compare the set up and the atmosphere.
A few things to consider when looking at universities:
Keep an eye out for more tips on applying to university in future posts. But for now, best of luck!