There are thousands of institutions – made up of universities and independent colleges – spread across the UK, that when it comes down to you choosing where to study narrowing the selection down can take a lot of time and research. After you have decreased the number to a handful of universities the only person that can make the ultimate decision is you, choosing a university is a personal choice and nothing should ever affect your decision.
Within the next few months university will be at the forefront of all of your friends minds, and it’ll be the topic of conversation whilst you all research and apply through UCAS. Although talking through options with your friends can help you with your decision, it might be difficult to keep your own thoughts and perceptions separate and untouched. Your friends have a strong influence on you, and you should never choose a university and/or degree course just so you might have the opportunity to still be with your friends. You’re beginning your own academic and career path and following theirs won’t help you in the future. If you are feeling anxious about starting over and meeting new people, remember that most people keep in contact with their old school friends, and the people that they meet through university usually stay with them too.
Your parents may have an idea of what they wanted you to be when you grew up, or that you should study a ‘practical’ degree, however, their influence can only take you so far down the road. Mum and dad will always have your best interest at heart, but they can’t resource what is in your head and how you feel about the next three to four years. So leave the decision making up to you. Attend as many open days as you can to get a real feel of the place and you’ll soon know which university is right for you.
During your final year at sixth form and/or college, all of your classmates will be discussing their UCAS application and what they’re top choices are. Never let them sway your decision or allow them to talk badly about your decision and faith in a university. Every single institution offers separate opportunities to each student. Also, they usually specialise or thrive in a specific school or area, like the arts, or Creative Writing. You don’t have to attend Oxford or Cambridge to get the best education for you and don’t allow your classmates to feel this way either.
Once you begin researching all of the different universities there is a lot of information out there, and it can make the decision that much harder. In consequence, you can use books published by The Times or The Guardian, but there is only so much they can tell you about what you’re going to experience. Use the internet and other resources to gather all the information you need to make the right choice. You should check out the internet, the university’s website, compare institutions on University Compare and attend open days before you begin making your decision.
It may sound like common sense but we have to say it – don’t base your decision on which university has the best weather, nightclub or most suited town/city! Yes these options and many more about the surrounding area and facilities should influence your decision, but they shouldn’t be what you’re looking to tick off first. You might choose a university that has a nightclub on campus or that is at the heart of London, but then it may turn out that the course is nothing that you expected and you hated it, or that you can’t physically afford to live there after three months. If you research wisely then you have all the power to choose wisely.
Lastly, your current teachers may try to persuade you to check out different universities, but when they talk to you about your options they really are just looking out for you. Your teachers have their own experiences of studying a degree and lots of insight into what universities are at the top of different subjects. Teachers should have some useful information and will always look at your decision from the academic angle – which is very important!
When you sit down to make your decision on your top choices for university, it is vital that you do this alone and with all the research and information in front of you. Don’t rush your decision or start to think about it hours before the deadline because you’re only going to harm yourself in the future. All of the influences mentioned above will aid you in your decision, but it is vital to keep it personal, because at the end of the day, it is!
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