With over 150 institutions in the UK, choosing the right university has never been an easy decision. With each offering unique experiences, a huge variety of courses, different sized campuses as well as an array of extra-curricular activities, there’s certainly a lot to think about when choosing somewhere that meets your preferences. As a teenager, it’s most likely one of the first big decisions you’ve ever made, which is why we’ve created a helpful guide on how to choose the right university for you.
Things To Consider First
First, you need to ask yourself these important questions so you can start shortlisting some universities you’d be happy to study at. Go through each question and write down your answer. It’s also a great idea to come back to these questions once you’ve narrowed down your choices to make sure each one matches up with what you initially wanted.
Which universities offer the subject area or course you’re interested in? We don’t recommend going to a university if it doesn’t offer what you want.
Where do you want to study? Consider your proximity to home and if you want to be in a city or perhaps somewhere quieter.
What type of university do you want to go to? Think about the size, reputation and if you want to go somewhere that focuses on teaching or research.
What other opportunities and facilities do you want/need at your future university? There may be certain societies and clubs you want to join, so it’s important to make sure these are available to you.
Narrowing Your Choices Down
After you’ve got some answers to the important questions, you can start looking in more depth at each university. We recommend gathering your information by visiting their website, ordering brochures, attending open days, checking university ranking stats and even browsing student forums. These resources will help provide details on the courses and the syllabus, what the location is like, the size and style of the campus, the facilities available and often there are testimonials from previous students which can be insightful. Taking this extra time and attention when considering each university will help you get clarity on what you really want and make it easier to forget about what ‘everyone’ else is doing.
Location Is Really Important
We can’t tell you enough how crucial the location of the university that you choose is; after all, you’ll be calling it home for the next 3-5 years. If you’re happy to move fairly far away from home, it’s important to make sure the location is easily accessible as you’ll most likely be travelling home on holidays and reading weeks. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to stay closer to home, especially if you’re particularly close with your family or would prefer to live at home while you study. Not only can this save you money, you also have the support of your family and friends throughout. Finally, if you’re not comfortable starting a new university experience on campus, you could consider an online course instead.
Choosing The Right Course
It’s so important that you’re 100% sure about the course you apply for, especially as you’ll be studying it for the next 3-5 years. Start by looking closely at the courses you’re interested in and take the time to compare the differences to what each university is offering. Even though most places will offer the same subject areas, the individual modules and testing methods can be very different. For example, one course may be purely coursework based, whereas at a different institution it may be purely exam based. We also recommend reading the course outline in detail, checking potential job options and even contacting the university directly if you have any specific questions. Finally, make sure you opt for courses that you have a genuine interest in. Degrees aren’t easy, so choosing something you enjoy will keep you motivated to work hard and achieve a great degree.
Keep In Mind Your Target Grades
Once you’ve started to narrow down your university choices, it’s also crucial you take into consideration the grades that are required for you to be accepted onto the course. Be realistic with your target grades and talk with your teachers about what they think you could achieve. It’s always a good idea to apply for two or three places who ask for similar grades to what you’ve been predicted. You can then choose one option with slightly higher entry requirements, so you have a goal to be working towards. This way you’ll also have options when it comes to results day and you won’t be left choosing a university that wasn’t on your top 5 list.
Other Things To Consider Carefully
Even though these may not be the overriding factors when it comes to choosing a university, we advise considering each point carefully.
How Much Living At That University Will Cost - Can you afford the area you will be living in? For example, London prices will be much more expensive than other areas.
Work Experience Opportunities - Are there any work experience opportunities for you? Will you be able to gain relevant job experience during your time studying or is a placement year an option? Is this important for the area you want to work in?
The Student Accommodation - What are the halls of residence like? Would you rather live on or off campus? Do you want to live with lots of other people or just with one or two?
The Lifestyle - Finally, what kind of lifestyle is going to work for you? Would you prefer living in a bustling city or a quieter rural location? Do you want to spend your time socialising or getting involved in extracurricular activities?