Going to University was the best decision I've ever made. Now Im coming to the end of my third and final year and I've made some amazing friends, had such awesome experiences and learnt a lot and i'll hopefully be coming out with a degree in Human Rights. Uni isn't for everyone of course and I'd never pressure anyone into going if they didn't want to, but if you are thinking of going it's also really important to take time and choose the right uni for you. I took a year off between college and uni because I wasn't sure what I wanted to study or where I wanted to go.
There are so many factors that need to be considered when deciding what uni to go to, and everyone will have different priorities so don't feel pressured into picking a uni because other people have liked it, you're the one who is going to be going there so you're the one who needs to like it! Here are some of my tips on what to consider when choosing which uni to go to.
In my opinion choosing the right course is one of the most important aspects of choosing a university. You're going to be studying that subject in-depth for three years at least, you need to be sure its the course for you. If you already know what area you want to study, for example Law, English, Biology or Business then look at league tables and see what uni's are rated best in those fields. Also have a look at what the course involves, are there specific modules that really jump out at you, does one uni offer really great internship opportunities. Read into what you're going to be doing and see what uni comes out top.
If you're not so sure on your course or you're looking at a few different courses that are similar across different unis then make a note of whats different about them. When I was looking at uni's I thought I wanted to do something in international relations and development and also law. I applied for 5 different but similar course but when I found the Human Rights degree at UCLan I immediately thought it sounded perfect for me. If you're not exactly sure what course you want to do make sure to do some research, scroll through UCAS, talk to your teachers, maybe take a year off until you know for sure.
Visiting the uni and attending an open day is great for seeing if the course is for you. Try and attend some talks, speak to the lectures and any current students if you can. Find out exactly what the course is like, if you hate exams try and see what the assessments are like, if you don't like group work see how much of your course is working with others. Try to find out as much information about your course as possible, as writing essays and attending lectures when you don't like what your studying can be really difficult! If you can't make it to an open day send the course leader an email and see if they have any information for you or can answer any questions.
Once you've decided on what course you think you'd like to take the next most important thing is location. Firstly, will you be living at home or moving out? If you're living at home you're going to want to factor in distance to travel from home to and from uni when considering which university to choose. If you're hoping to move away from home you've got a lot more choice. Also if you've got a city in mind where you'd like to live make sure to do some research into the uni's in that area, also into other uni's close by or in a near by city. You may find the perfect uni for you if you look a little bit further afield, don't limit yourself.
If you're moving away from home think about how far away you want to be, it might seem awesome to move to the other side of the country until you want to go home for a weekend and a train costs your weekly budget and a coach takes half a day! However you also might want to be far enough away that your mum can't just pop in and see you and you get to really experience independence by doing your own clothes washing and cleaning your own bathroom. Another thing to consider if you're moving away is travelling to and from home, is your uni town on the same train line, is it driving distance? This might not seem important but when you're making that journey home you might just be grateful you don't have to make 3 different changes on the train!
The town or city the uni is located in is important. Do you want to be living in a big city, like London, Manchester, or Birmingham? Or would you rather be in a smaller city or a town where everything is a lot closer together. Big cities can be really daunting if you're not used to them, they can feel unfriendly and you may find your accommodation is miles from your lectures. A smaller city or town can also feel boring, you bump into people you know all the time and there can be little new places to explore. It just depends on what you're used to and what you'd prefer. Coming from a small town I knew a big city would be too much for me and I feel very comfortable in a smaller city because I know where everything is and see people I know all the time.
When looking at universities people often forget to really look into the campus. It's important to know what type of campus your uni has. Are all the buildings close together but you need to get a bus to the city centre, or maybe your uni has grown within the city and buildings are spread out everywhere. Is the student accommodation in walking distance of lecture buildings and the supermarket, will you need to get a taxi to the train station or a bus to the shops? These things are all important and your preference will be totally personal.
St Mary's University in London got in touch and asked if I'd like to write this post for my followers because they're running a campaign called 'Be Part Of It' encouraging students to be part of all that the university has to offer. I think it's really important to really take a look into what your perspective uni may offer because you might find something that really takes your interest. So although the course and the location are important you also need to look into what else your choices have to offer.
If you play a certain sport or you're part of a group you'd like to continue make sure to research if these are available at your uni, especially if you want to take part competitively. Look into the support and opportunities offered as well, most universities will have similar things but something might stand out to you. For example internships, graduate opportunities, travel, societies, volunteering, sports, jobs, disability support, or funding. If there is something you know or think you'd like to pursue while at university check out if its possible, maybe you'd like to learn a language, or write for the university newspaper. Making the most of your university and really being part of it is important, so make sure you think about that when you're choosing what university to call home for 3 years!
A university is a community, and you can gain a lot from being there, so have a think about what sort of community you'd like to be a part of. Maybe you'd prefer a small close knit uni with smaller classes, or maybe you want to be part of a huge uni where theres so many opportunities. Think about what priorities you have, maybe its top lecturers, or a good reputation, maybe you want somewhere with a great night life, or by the seaside. Everyone will have different needs and wants, just be honest with yourself and also be open, just because you could get into Oxford doesn't mean it will be the best uni for you!
If you can look round a uni or go to an open day I'd really recommend this, as soon as I got to Preston and had a look around UCLan I fell in love, I just got the right feeling and knew it was for me. It also helps because you find out what you like and don't like in a university, so even if you come out of an open day hating that uni it will help you to find the perfect uni that is totally different. St Mary's have put together some videos speaking to students as part of their campaign to show you what life is like at St Mary's and how you can make the most of your time there.
St Mary's have also offered me the opportunity to run a giveaway for my followers for the chance to win a £10 voucher to spend! All you have to do to enter the giveaway is fill in the rafflecopter form below. The giveaway will close on 3/04/15 at 12pm and the winner will be notified within 48 hours. If they have not claimed their prize within 72 hours I will draw another winner. The prize will be sent out by St Mary's and will be a £10 voucher for either Sainsbury's, Amazon, Starbucks, Waterstones, iTunes or Cineworld. GIVEAWAY CLOSED
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you're looking at universities I hope these tips were helpful. You might also be interested in my Guide To Starting Uni series. If you've been to university and have any advice please leave it in the comments and you might enjoy and understand this post on library etiquette and this post on what student's actually wear! If you haven't been to uni I'd love to hear any advice you have on not going to university.
St Mary's gave me the opportunity to run a giveaway for my followers however I did not receive any payment for this post and all views, ideas and opinions are my own.