Just when you thought the application process was all over, the dreaded decision regarding firm and insurance choices needs to be made. After the countless open days, prospectuses, applications and hundreds of amendments to your personal statement, deciding on your firm and insurance choices is the last hurdle, yet is one of the most important (after your exams).

Your ‘Firm Choice’ should be the top institution you hope to attend in September. Your ‘Insurance’ choice is your 2nd choice, however it is recommended to pick an insurance choice with lower entry requirements (just in case you don’t meet your predicted grades on results day). This decision is important as if you are lucky enough to get your firm choice on results day but change your mind, you will have to contact your firm place and ask them to release you into Clearing (in order to re-apply to the insurance choice). (This can be a lengthy process so it’s better to be certain from the beginning, but if plans change, it is also possible to change your institution if need be.)

I decided on my Firm and Insurance three years ago, but here are eight questions I wish I had asked when making my choices:

1. What is the culture of the university/college?

In the past three years of being in Higher Education I have learned that the culture of the institution is citual. For example, at Pearson College London, our culture of ‘’preparing students for the workplace’’ means events are put in place like Student Conferences and regular guest speakers at the college. Although educational events are great, everyone needs a social event to attend from time to time (this helps to create a sense of community within the College). For instance, Pearson College London offers students unforgettable social events like The Winter Ball (this is when you can dress up in your favourite outfit and eat fancy food which is fun!!) as well as loads of other societies and clubs offered by the PCSA!


Tip: A good way to get a feel for the university is through their social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that showcase upcoming events and activities for students.

2. Could I live in the surrounding area of the university?

Many people associate university with moving away from home and partying non-stop. Yet, the ‘Uni Life’ can still very much be lived by staying at home and commuting. Therefore, if moving 200 miles away from your family worries you, or the cost of living in halls sends you into panic, this option could work for you.

Nevertheless, if you do choose to move away then just ensure you are moving to a place that you can comfortably spend the next three to four years, as this could affect your experience either negatively or positively. To find out more, take a look at the accommodation options offered at Pearson College London and read a blog from one of our students who commutes in from home.

Tip: Browse the town or surrounding areas when visiting the university for an open day to get a feel for where you would be living.

person holding map
Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel / Unsplash

3. Does the university offer students support and guidance?

Ensure the university chosen as your firm choice is able to be supportive and guiding when studying there. This is critical throughout your studies as times can become stressful near deadlines and exams.

For example, Pearson College London offers students with a counsellor to help with issues that may be affecting them inside and outside of their studies. As well as this, each student is allocated a Personal Tutor meaning studies can be discussed regarding current abilities and progressions in modules. Similar to this, clinics and extra seminars are put in place to help students who need some extra guidance - so you always feel really supported.

Tip: This would be an excellent question to ask when visiting Open Days and Taster Days or Personal Tours

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4. What online resources does the university have?

Most universities tend to provide academic content that can be assessed on platforms and portals. However, it is key to ensure that the university can offer resources that will help to enhance your grade. Pearson College London have online library services that can be accessible at any given time (forking out money for books and carrying heavy bags of them around is a thing of the past!)As we are part of Pearson Plc, this also means that all of your essential and recommended reading is free, and available to read online!

Tip: Once you have been accepted into the university start reading resources ASAP!! This will make a significant difference to your work and give you an idea of what you’ll be studying.


5. What are the tutors like?

It can be quite hard to find information about tutors before starting a course. However, some institutions tend to publish information on the tutors and their subjects. For instance, Pearson College London’s website includes a short summary of both Pearson Business School Tutors and Escape Studios Tutors. Their profiles include information on their work in industry as well as some of their biggest achievements. Did you know that Simon Hall was the Chief Marketing Officer at Dell UK? Or that Davi Stein was Senior Compositor on ‘The Dark Knight’?

Tip: The tutors will likely be available for a chat when visiting the campus, therefore meeting them in person will help to ask any questions you may have about the course.

6. How can I learn what the university is like from a student perspective?

One of the best ways to comprehend what a university is really like is through the students. They were fresh out of sixth form only a year or two before you so they know the stresses and worries that come with deciding on where to go. Most universities have student ambassadors that will be present at Open Days and Taster Days, where you can ask your burning questions. But as well as that, , platforms like TAP (The Access Platform) that are used at Pearson College London mean that if you forget to ask a question on the day or things just simply get too overwhelming, you can send messages personally to current students asking their advice.

Tip: It is worth following your Top 5 universities on social media. This means you can have a break from the Kardashians on your newsfeed and keep updated with your chosen universities. Sometimes institutions like Pearson College London will do student takeovers which will help to gain this ‘student perspective’.

7. Do I go with my heart or my head?

You could sit for hours upon hours weighing up the pros and cons of each of your choices and although it is important to compare them, at the same time go with what feels right (I know it sounds cheesy but it's true).

Tip: If you get yourself into a stress, remember that Steve Jobs (The Former CEO of Apple) once said ‘’have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.’

8. Should I pick a university because my friends are going to it?

Everything you do should be for you! Although it is great to ask for advice and opinions from your friends and family, the decision should still come from you. You all want different things out of your course and institution - they aren’t a “one size fits all”.

Tip: Remember, you will make new friends at university, and you will always be able to see your old friends during half terms and holiday time.

people sitting on grass field
Photo by Ben Duchac / Unsplash

Everything will work out in the end so try not to stress!

For more information visit the Pearson College London website