University: Explained- Choosing a Course and University
University can be a big change and a daunting situation for many. It can be especially hard to start planning for university if you don’t know anyone who has been to university before! There always seems to be so much to think about- from student finance to accommodation, however it isn’t as complicated as it first seems, so don’t worry. In our new blog series ‘University: Explained’ we’ll go through all the information you will need about all things university. First up: How to find the right university and course for you…
There are lots of things to consider when picking the right university for you, these can include:
- Distance: Do you want to stay close to home or move a bit further away? This could make a big impact on choosing which university you go to- take a look at the universities local to you if you want to stay near to home and see if they offer the course you are interested in or look like good options for you. Alternatively, if you want to move away from home then maybe take a look at some places you might want to move to and see if they have any suitable universities for you!
- City or Country Campus: Some universities, such as The University of Manchester, are situated within the city and have buildings spread throughout (although most buildings are in the main campus area and are very close together) and with accommodation spread throughout the city area. Some universities however, are much more rural and have a very defined ‘Campus’ area within the countryside, with the accommodation on the same campus as the academic buildings. It can really depend on you individually as to which type you would prefer, so why not go to a few open days on different campus-styles to see which you prefer?
- Societies and Sports: Are there any societies or sports you are particularly interested in? Check out which societies the universities you are interested in have online and also check out their sports teams and sports facilities to see if they suit you.
- Do they have the right course for you: Perhaps most important when looking at different universities, is to look into their course options and see if they are right for you. Lots of universities offer a wide range of courses, although some universities focus specifically on science subjects or on the arts- so make sure to check that out before choosing a university. In addition to this, although some courses are offered at many universities, they may be taught differently at each place- with different modules and specialities. It is a good idea to take a deeper look into course modules, teaching styles and the specialities of each department before making a decision about whether the course is ideal for you. You can do this by:
- Taking a look at the course page on the universities website- here there should be more detail about the different modules on offer and what they entail, so you can see if you are interested in the things they are planning to teach. There should also be more information about how these modules are assessed, so you can see if they are mostly coursework-based or exam-based. This could make a big difference in your choice as you might be more interested in practical coursework rather than exams.
- Have a look at prospectuses for the universities you are interested in. Similar to the course pages online, you can find out more information about the modules, assessment methods and specialties of the department.
- Visit the UCAS website to compare courses and look at course details. You can find the link to this page here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate. If you’re really unsure about what to study, there is also a ‘careers quiz’ where you can find your ideal job matched to your personality and a list of university courses that can help you pursue that career. There’s also lots of helpful information about finding the right course and university on this website too!
- Attend open days- hopefully in 2022, universities will be able to start doing in-person open days again. This is a great chance to find out more about the courses first-hand and speak to lecturers in the department about what they teach and the benefits of each course. Open days are also a great chance to get a feel for the campus to see if it is a fit for you.
So… there are clearly quite a few things to consider when trying to pick the right university and course for you. Once you’ve found the course you want to study and have some options of universities, there are some tricks you can use to narrow down your options. Remember- you can apply to 5 universities on UCAS so you only need to narrow down to 5 at first, before narrowing them down again to a ‘Firm’ (first choice) and ‘Insurance’ (second choice) university once you have received your offers. Some ways you can narrow down your university choices include:
- Once you’ve researched each university as much as you can, make a ‘pros and cons’ list of each university to see which one truly works best for you.
- Speak to family, friends and teachers about your options- even if they haven’t been to university themselves before it is always good to chat out loud about your thoughts and they can help you talk through and support your decisions.
- Chat to current students through UniBuddy and find out their experiences on their courses and at their universities!