Now that the first term of 6th form/college has happened and Christmas is a rather distant memory, now’s a good time to start thinking about university and how to choose where to go. You will know that university isn’t the only option, but a significant number of students go each year – last year about 500,000 applied to go! This blog and the next one will give you some top tips for choosing a university and where to apply to. These blogs will concentrate on the academic factors and the ‘everything else’ factors. You will want to make sure you enjoy life at university as well as enjoying the studying! These top tips are aimed at giving you a series of starting points to consider, you will have your own considerations and thoughts too.
This is one of the most important issues to start thinking about. Do you want to be somewhere close to home? Universities call students who stay at home and come in each day ‘commuter students’. Some students want to live up to a couple of hours away – they get the independence without being too far from home. Other students are quite happy to go wherever, and sometimes end up at the other end of the country!
Campus vs non Campus
Students are often very definite about liking the idea of being at a campus university. Others are less bothered. A campus university is one where all the lecture halls, labs, facilities like the library, gym and students union are all on one site. Often with student accommodation too, which will be prioritised for first years. The good things about studying at a campus university is that you are literally a few minutes from everything you need. If you stay on site, you can fall out of bed in the morning and be in lectures very quickly. The downside is you may not get to know the town or city you are in as well, certainly until year 2 if you move into a house with friends off campus. If you’d like a list of campus universities, the uni guide have this https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/preparing-for-university/list-of-campus-unis-in-the-uk.
The benefits of going to a non campus university is that your daily life will be more ‘integrated’ into where you are living. You will get to know the town/city far quicker and find lots of local organisations offering student discounts and experiences. And you avoid any sense of living in a ‘goldfish bowl’ on a campus.
One thing to bear in mind is that universities try hard to make themselves ‘sticky’. What does this mean? Universities want to get students to stay onsite and get involved in using facilities, e.g. sport, Student Union events and the library. The reason for this is that the more you are involved in student life, the more likely you are to last to the end of the course and do well! So regardless of campus or non campus, when you visit universities, do think through whether you’d want to use the facilities at the university regularly. That onsite Costa may be there for a very good reason!
For many students, accommodation is an ‘afterthought’, to be considered once you’ve accepted an offer from a university. For many parents/carers, it’s the opposite! When some of your parents and teachers were at university a few decades ago, student accommodation had a very different reputation, sometimes involving mould, dodgy wiring and in need of some TLC. Things have changed a lot since! Nowadays, student accommodation tends to be really smart and modern. So do at least find out something about the accommodation on offer, if only so when your parents ask, you’ve got something to say about it. Of course, across all the different universities, student accommodation will vary – a Cambridge or Durham college room will be a few centuries older than say the latest University of Manchester’s accommodation building! Universities will sometimes offer you a chance to look at accommodation on open days, or at least provide a virtual tour.
There will be a range of other factors you will want to take into account when choosing a university and deciding about applying to them. This will be a bit more of a personalised list. So, for some being closer to national training squads or national orchestras will be really important. For others, going to a city with a more vibrant LGBTQ+ scene will be a very important factor or being within reach of the Manchester City ground for match days will appeal. Other factors could be local volunteering opportunities that will help with your future career or a particular music/theatre scene. What matters to you?
I hope this list is a good starting point for your research on choosing a university! Look out for the next blog, which will look at more the academic side of doing your university choices research. As you would expect, there are some great advice available, including from UCAS https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/what-and-where-study/choosing-course/how-choose-between-undergraduate-courses-and-unis and the uni guide https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/choosing-a-course.
Here at My Uni Choices we specialise in helping students, parents & educators make the best uni choices. Review all the Universities & Courses here or discover more About Us & the best uni courses for you, finally if you’re ready let’s take The Test to find out what course or degree you should do.
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