University

Choose the right university

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Decisions, decisions

A-levels, done. Well done you, but now you face the difficult choice of which university to go to. Need help? Consider our ten-point plan….

Making the decision to jump into further education and choosing the place that you’ll receive a degree is no small thing. Firstly, make sure you have more than one option on the table; you never know what might happen, and having a few back-ups could be essential. It’s also important to make the effort to attend open days; they’re actually very useful when picking the course, and will give you a glimpse into life on campus.

1 Distance from Home 

Home birds may not want to end up somewhere seven hours, three trains and a car journey away, but it’s important to be far enough away from home to gain the ‘life on your own’ experience. The independence you gain in university just by living away from the family will set you up for life, especially once you’ve mastered the washing machine. Cooking may take time.

2 Course 

Possibly one of the most important factors to consider is the range of courses available to you at the universities you’re considering. Read every little detail of the course description to make sure that it’s really for you. While most universities make switching courses relatively simple, you want to avoid it. Choose a winner and you’ll have more time to focus on hitting those top scores, doing a course that you love.

3 Location

The location of the university will become the location for all of your freshers fun; coffee revision dates; hungover remedy brunches; mid-week nights out; hook-ups and (hopefully not too many) break-ups and ultimately, the place that you will be sad to leave once its done. With all of this mind, spend some time doing a little exploration, and speak to current students to see what its like to live and study there.

The independence you gain in university just by living away from the family will set you up for life, especially once you’ve mastered the washing machine. Cooking may take time.

4 Cost 

Being a student is fun and incredibly rewarding, but can also be a real squeeze on the bank account. Now that funding for further education has dipped, it’s even more important that you figure the costs of university into your choice. Check out how much tuition fees and first year residency is, and have a look at typical student rent prices beyond the first year. Also keep in mind the cost of living in the place you decide – London will weigh a lot heavier on the bank than other cities.

5 Reputation

As a student, the university you attend will become part of your own rep. Have you ever wondered why so many apply to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities? These names hold incredible reputations, and not only are you much more likely to receive an outstanding quality of education as a result, you’ll also be likely to gain a little more merit with future employers. So do your research and check the rankings.

6 Facilities

What are you looking for? Whether its decent halls of residence for first year, top-notch sporting facilities, a cracking Students Union or spacious campus, you’ll find out everything you need to know by visiting. Again, ask around to get the opinion of the students already there.

7 Industry links

Certain universities boast top links with certain industries. Future medics should look to London for Oxbridge and UCL; number-crunchers head for Bath or Leeds; drama queens should scout out Birmingham and Bristol; computer techies look to St Andrews or Durham. These links will prove very handy when you start to think about life after university – future employers know which unis to look out for when checking on education.

Whether its decent halls of residence for first year, top-notch sporting facilities, a cracking Students Union or spacious campus, you’ll find out everything you need to know by visiting.

8 Work placements 

While reputation within certain industries is important, so to are the opportunities available to get vital work experience before you enter the world of work. These days it’s all about experience; sure a degree is still necessary, but with so many graduates and not so many jobs, employers are being picky, and the experience wins the work.

9 Volunteer placements

Just as vital as paid experience is unpaid experience. Showing that you did more with your time outside of class than winning beer pong, falling asleep in the library and napping will do wonders for your CV once you graduate. Volunteer placements are also a fab way to meet new people, network within your chosen industry and discover new hobbies.

10 Culture 

Lastly, consider the culture of the university. By this we mean the events, campaigns, societies, trends, traditions and general way of life that the university and its location boasts. If you’re a high-energy socialite then look for major cities; if you’re a small town book-hoarder then head to slower-paced, possibly coastal places; if you’re looking to make change and get involved, head somewhere with a solid Students’ Union. Keeping all of this in mind will certainly help you make the right fit.