Once you’ve decided that university is right for you, the next step is to determine where you are going to spend the next three or four years of your life.
For most of you, choosing a university isn’t going to be a quick process as there are lots of factors to consider. When starting to look at the different options, it’s better to consider the course you want to study first before looking at where it’s offered.
There is one thing that you should try to remember when choosing a subject – it should be something you enjoy and that you would be happy to study in-depth for the next few years.
Consider the subjects you enjoy the most at school and then research similar courses that you can study at university. If you really don’t have a clue, then start by discounting the subjects you have absolutely no interest in to narrow down the search field.
You also need to think about whether you want a course offering a clear career path or does your interest lie in one of the more traditional academic subjects? It may be that you have a dream job in mind, making your choice obvious. For example, if you want to be a vet, then a veterinary medicine/science degree course is a must.
Be aware that the same title of course will not be taught in the same way or cover the same material at every university offering it. Make sure you pay attention to the detail because even the way in which courses are assessed can differ.
Another consideration, if you go for a more vocational course, is whether it is approved by a professional body, because this can give you a head start when you apply for a job in your chosen industry.
The next step is to think about the location – there are more than 395 providers of undergraduate courses in the UK. Take time to consider carefully whether you want to move away from home or study nearby. Do you want a university in the middle of a city or town or a single-site campus? Look at the facilities provided by the university and what will be on the doorstep for leisure and nightlife activities.
Once you have narrowed your options down, then attend an open day as this is one of the best ways to find out if it’s the right fit for you. A glossy prospectus can sometimes be deceiving, showing only the best bits, and when you get there you could find the reality is rather different.
But remember that it’s not the end of the world if, after all your careful research, you end up beginning your studies and realising you’ve made a mistake. Universities have guidance staff on hand to help first year students who discover their course wasn’t what they were expecting and there will still be plenty of options available to you.