Picking a university
The top things you need to think about when considering which university is best for you are:
Do you want to be at a campus or city university? - Campus universities are when everything is in one place - your accommodation, lecture theatre, library, union bar etc whereas with a city university, each of those things are spread out across different locations.
How far from home? - Some people will choose to study from home, others want to be within a 2 hours radius and for some, they want to be as far away from their hometown as possible!
What accommodation do they offer? - Whilst most of the university application process is centralised through UCAS, accommodation is one thing that is not. Each university has a different application process and a different range of accommodation options. Research these to make sure the university you are thinking of applying to has the type of accommodation you are looking for.
What sort of environment do you want to live in? - For some, living in a city is their ideal location, being among the hustle and bustle of city living excites them. For others, the thought of this scares them! They would prefer to be in the countryside, by the sea or in a smaller town community. The good news is, there is a university in all of these locations so you’ll be able to find university courses in the environment that is right for you
Where are the universities in the league tables for the subject you are thinking of studying? - There are several different league tables you can look at, they all rank against relatively similar criteria. You can filter them to see the top universities by subject so this will help you to see which universities come out on top for what you want to do. Be mindful that the ones in the top 10 will have high entry criteria so when you are researching, make sure you are being realistic based on your predicted grades.
How have previous students ranked the university? - You may have noticed that on university websites, they all say how fantastic they are. Funny that, isn’t it? Sometimes, a good way to get an honest opinion is to see what students who have currently or recently been at the university have said about it.
What extra things do the university offer? - Your time at university is about more than just your degree. Universities will offer lots of extra things you can take part in, so make sure their offer fits your interests and what you want from your university course. This could be bursaries or scholarships, free language classes, employer connections, societies, trips abroad etc.
Picking a course
Having a good idea about which universities you want to apply to is important. Equally, there are key things you need to consider when researching university courses. These include:
What do you want to study?
Do you want to do a combined course?
Have you thought about if you’d like your course to include a year abroad either working or studying? Maybe you’d like to do a year’s industry placement as part of your course?
Have you looked at the course modules and the way the course is taught and assessed?
Look at the grade requirements, are they realistic?
What A Level subjects do you need?
The number of teaching hours
Where to research universities and courses
We have mentioned lots of areas above, but how do you actually research these different questions? Here are some of the websites and resources you may wish to use to research which university is best for you: UCAS, Individual University websites, UniTasterDays, The Uni Guide, WhatUni, Guardian League Tables.
What else could help you decide?
Make a list of all the things you DO and DON’T want from your university/course. Knowing what you don’t want is just as important.
Take part in virtual work experience to ensure the industry you are focusing on is right for you.
Speak to your career lead at school to see if they know of students who have gone to a university you're considering that they can put you in touch with.
Go to virtual open days and student Q&A sessions!
Order a prospectus online.
If you can, go to a physical open day at the university.
Finally, we would like to leave you with our #1 Tip: Don’t leave your university research too late! The sooner you start, the less stressful the process will be.