When the journey of choosing a university and a course begins, you’ll be struck by so many different aspects of university life and what you will come across during your three or four years of studying, and it is important that you know how to choose the right university for you. Although all areas of student life are important, there are some key factors you need to consider when applying to university, to ensure you enjoy yourself and get the most out of your degree.
Firstly, there is the employability factor, which features at the bottom of this list. Even though you are only applying to university now and the thought of having a job or career is the last thing on your mind – it is important when making this decision. Employability translates to you securing a job after you have finished your degree, which will be significant three years down the line and often leads to the question, should students pick a course directed at a career? Decent employability statistics will show graduates finding a job within 6 months of leaving university, and at the graduate level within their desired career, which could be related to their degree or what they want to do. Other employability statistics may involve securing a job regardless, and in the current job market, is still helpful information. However, the most important thing to consider when it comes to graduate employment is that you are studying a subject that is interesting to you and holds a lot of passion for.
Secondly, course fees do hold value in the application process. You are going to be paying for this course for the majority of your adult life, a small amount at a time, but nonetheless, it needs to be worth the money spent. When you are researching courses and comparing them, consider what course interests you more, and what modules you will be learning during your time studying that you believe best suit your intellectual state, not what course has a better name or has been around for longer. The course is a vital part of your degree – it’s what you’re going to get a higher education qualification in! – and deserves the time and effort in choosing the right one for you. The same can be applied in choosing a more expensive course, especially if it is the perfect one for your career plan.
Next, all potential students need to consider what it will be like to live in the area of their new home during term time, which can be one of the most overlooked factors of university! You’re going to have a new home, an entirely different abode than you’re used to, and for some part, you’re going to be without your friends and family from back home; so it is worth thinking about. When contemplating a university and course, examine the local area and what it has to offer you and your personality. If you crave the nightlife scene or centuries of culture and history, explore the town or city on an open day to find out if this is where you want to be – and how much this is going to cost you. Your recreational life will become a part of your budget and will play a major part in your finances, therefore you need to plan and budget your money.
Furthermore, where you’re actually going to stay is critical in not only your purse strings but your happiness when it comes to studying. Whether you’re going to find yourself living in Halls or private student accommodation; it is going to be expensive! If you are choosing to live at university – on campus or renting with other students – you can apply for a student loan to cover your accommodation costs and pay it back later. Deciding where you’re going to call home for your first year is crucial, and we advise trying to secure a place in University Halls for first years. There are so many different advantages to living in Halls, from socialising, being closer to university resources, having all your bills in one place, to fully having that university experience. Halls will give you the chance to meet other students, become friends with your housemates, learn the responsibilities that come with being a new adult and in the safety of being on university grounds. Rented accommodation does reek of benefits too, with choosing your housemates and not flung with random personalities, and receiving that more of a ‘homely’ feel.
Another key factor is what you are going to be studying, and what it will be like. This entails coursework, exams, revision, independent study and lecture time that will make up the different areas of your course. Some potential students fail to look at what a course is made up of and how it is assessed. This is crucial for each individual, as each person has a different learning technique that suits them well and will showcase their academic talents. If you find yourself preferring coursework or exams, or want more time studying in the library than sitting in huge lecture halls, researching the course will give you the right answers. Once you start comparing courses side by side, these small and significant aspects will help you come to the right conclusion.
Drawing to an end, we have reached the essential piece of the puzzle, the prime focus each student needs to consider before applying for universities and courses, or at all – their life at university. Your university life will be made up of everything you might not think of at home; supermarkets, towns, shopping centres, cash machines, nightlife, commuting time, how close it is to a major city, or how far it is from home. All these small parts will make a big difference when they start adding up when you begin studying. Anything that will affect your life, like living at the top of a hill and only a small and busy taxi firm that covers the entire town will most definitely affect your shopping trips and this, with other factors, will accumulate during your time at university. To ensure the best possible experience at university, students need to research the surrounding area of their institution and read real reviews from real students, studying and graduating, to get the best picture and in full focus. Once you have conducted the fact-finding mission, you can begin to reflect on all the information and choose the right university and the perfect course.
Investigating all the factors you need to consider when applying for university can be daunting and tiresome, but it will pay off incredibly with a great time at university! After you have your list of choices and have applied, the next step is to choose what you’re going to wear to the fancy dress events at Freshers…
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