5 Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Uni
It’s that time of year again. A-Level students across the UK are trawling through listings to decide which uni they want to go to and what they’d like to study. Other, more mature students who’ve decided that uni is the path for them begin to stress about the long application process. Whoever you are, it’s a tricky period.
Many things can influence the ‘uni decision’. There are some very right and very wrong motives to base your final five uni choices on. Here are some important factors to bear in mind when deciding whether university is for you and – if so – then where and studying what.
Do you want to go at all?
The UCAS End Of Cycle 2016 report revealed a record number of 18-year olds accepted at Uni. These statistics show that the number of people gaining degrees is increasingly high, making employment afterwards more competitive because everybody has the same qualifications.
Of course, for many occupations a degree remains necessary and the route that you need to take. However, there are plenty of options to consider before diving head-first into the ever deepening graduate pool.
Though the numbers of young people choosing uni remains high, in 2017 applications dropped by 5% and the number taking apprenticeships is creeping up. From practical careers such as plumbing and carpentry to more academic occupations like journalism and accounting, there are ways into permanent employment that don’t involve a degree. In most cases, you learn on the job, get paid while you learn and usually have a permanent role waiting for you at the end of the two years.
Keep an eye open and figure out which route is best for the career that you desire in both financial and practical terms.
It’s not all about the league tables
Though many schools, parents and individuals often forget this and care far too much about how they will look, uni choice shouldn’t be all about the league tables. To begin with, they vary year on year and change depending on the subject, so it’s hard to keep up with accurate representations. Also, you need to find an institution that’s right for you and a list of rankings won’t tell you that.
Attend as many open days as possible, chat to the student ambassadors who have first-hand experience of life at that establishment and spend time in the city itself. It’s all well and good to be able to say you went to Oxford, but if you hate the city and student lifestyle then you’ll be hard-pressed to make the most out of your experience.
A large part of the uni experience is life in the place you choose, so make sure that you pick wisely and don’t focus all of your attention on which ‘looks’ the best. The experience that you get from going to uni is almost as important as, and will influence greatly, the final grade that you graduate with.
Ultimately, you need somewhere that has a good atmosphere in both the uni and the area, somewhere with a strong and supportive community and somewhere that you personally feel part of.
Research your subject
Of course, this goes without saying, but ensure you pick a subject that you thoroughly enjoy. The way to guarantee that you’ll achieve your full potential is by selecting a field of study that really turns you on. The best grades come out of passion and you often won’t feel that you’re studying so hard if you’re learning about things that interest you.
While browsing, read the variety of course content carefully. You could want to study English Literature, but the courses vary considerably. York may focus on pre-18th century where Leeds could offer a more modern programme. Check this out before you make any firm decisions and select the course based on the content that is closest to your interests.
Evaluate your financial position
University is an expensive life choice at the best of times but certainly don’t let that put you off. Instead, check out all the possibilities available to fund your degree and consider potential cheaper ways into your chosen industry as well.
Student finance is a great scheme, supporting students across the UK every year to get through uni without the added stress of money. Consider this, see what you’re entitled to and how it will help you while in education. As well as this, many universities offer bursaries directly from the institution themselves. Be sure to find out more about these too because they can be that added bit of cash that allows you to go on the trip to Paris during your first year studying Fine Art.
Finally, remember to consider options other than tertiary education. There are a lot of funding bodies set up to help you achieve your goal and remove additional financial worry. Or maybe a tactical gap year is an option for a financial purpose so you can save and enjoy a better uni experience just a year later.
Research job prospects and talk to careers advisers
When browsing your options, whether Uni is looking likely or not, always keep your job prospects in mind. It’s no good spending days researching for a degree which has no direction, or if there are more direct ways into the career that you eventually want to have.
Before making any big decisions, seek advice from teachers or careers services so that you fully understand what is required of you. Perhaps you’re totally undecided about what you want to be. That’s okay, but seeking advice as early as possible can help to spark ideas and direct you to things you’d never thought of.
So before you make any rash decisions, ensure that you dedicate time to your search and keep these tips in mind while browsing. Choosing your university is a massive decision and totally life changing. Don’t look back on this period in four years’ time and wish you’d chosen differently!
Harriet Mills is an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate based at her hometown near Cambridge. She is an aspiring writer with her main interests being features and travel writing. For more of her story check out her personal blog.