So you’ve done the hard work and applied to some Universities, and are starting to hear back from your offers. Now you’re trying to decide which University is going to be your firm and which is your insurance. Deciding which University to attend is a huge decision, as it will not only directly affect the next few years of your life, in terms of where you’ll be living; but it will have an impact on your future with regards to your career. Therefore, this decision should not be taken lightly. Before you make your final choice, have a think about these factors... you never know, you could be doing your future a huge favour.
• WHICH COURSE IS BEST FOR ME?
Your course may be fairly generic like English or Maths, and so, luckily for you, you’ll have the choice of nearly every institution across the country. If you want to study something more specialised, such as Fashion or Architecture, then your choices may be limited. Your chosen course is ultimately what will get you your dream job, so think about it carefully. Have a look at the modules offered and think about whether they will be relevant to your future job. Also, make sure that you pick a subject that sounds interesting – don’t be pressurised into doing a degree you don’t want to do. Ultimately, you’ll excel at a course that you find enjoyable, and it will also make your life a lot easier.
What would your ideal location be? Do you love the bright lights and hustle-and-bustle of a big city, or do you prefer long walks in idyllic countryside followed by a pint at the local pub? Or do neither of these take your fancy and instead, you would rather be by the beach eating fish and chips and hanging out by the pier. The location in which your University is placed is one of the most important factors as it is where you will be living for the next three years of your life; and as you know, University isn’t all work and no play. To fully enjoy the uni experience, you need to be able to like where you live.
• UNIVERSITY REPUTATION
There seems to be the age-old debate that Russell Group Universities are better than Polytechnics, but there is so much more to it than that. While academic subjects may be better at the original Universities, creative courses are generally more respected at the old Polytechnics. The best way to find out about a University is from its students – past and present. Check out Accommodation for Students’ student satisfaction survey posted on the website – it’s been filled out by students who have used our website for various reasons. Another thing to check out about a University is the percentage of its graduates that go into employment – if one University you’re considering has a 90% rate of graduates finding work compared to another that is only 40%, it may be telling you something.
• HOW FAR FROM HOME AM I?
Some of you may want to get as far away from your parents as possible, whereas others may prefer to be close by. If you know that you’ll get homesick and will want to go home often, there’s no point going to University in Edinburgh if you live in Southampton! Check out the distance from your University to your home – have a look at train tickets and prices, and do the same for coaches. It’s nice to know that you’re in a completely different area of the country doing your own thing, but are able to get back home relatively easily and cheaply if you need to.
• WHAT’S THE COST OF LIVING LIKE?
London is notorious for high rents and an expensive standard of living. It’s common knowledge that it will be more expensive to live in a city where there’s a lot going on compared to the quiet countryside. You need to think about this realistically – can you afford to live where you want to go comfortably, without the stress of whether you’ll be able to pay the rent? Many people want to live in London but it’s very draining on your finances – cities like Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester are cheaper alternatives to London, but are still very busy. Living there means you’re still in a city, but can save some money – why not save your London dream until after you’ve graduated when you’ve got a job, so you can truly enjoy your time there?
Of course, other, more personal factors may be taken into account by students; and some of you may prefer to live at home and go to your local University in order to cut down the costs. However, it’s important to remember that University is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; you are thrown into the deep end of living independently in a new place with a bunch of people you don’t even know. While you’ll never really know for sure if you chose the correct University until you actually get there and experience it for yourself, given the factors that you know, you can try and make the best decision according to your knowledge. And if you do get to University and think you’ve made a mistake, don’t stress. At the end of the day, it’s only three years. Get your degree done and then go out into the world of work and make something of yourself!
Written by Elle Pollicott
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