In our first part, we looked into what university league tables are, and what they include. By knowing what information they provide we can now see how this can help you in your application and important decision to what university to apply for.
You shouldn’t take everything you read as direct truth, and learn where the data and statistics come from. If the data is from an outside agency, they generally can be quite reliable, however, student surveys and reviews can be subjective as they can be altered by anything – a student receiving a bad grade and believing they didn’t deserve it.
Understand it is a general indication
Not all statistics are updated yearly, and this can be for an array of reasons, such as, not having enough students complete the survey to display relevant results. Check the date of the data, and what year it applies to. Even annual surveys can’t show everything about a university, as they are updated yearly – they can miss things too, you shouldn’t rely on university rankings, too much!
You should blend a few league tables together to get the most of the information, not all league tables hold the same information. Some tables feature more on facts and statistics, whilst others like to focus more on the entire student experience. Cross-referencing the data together can give you a better idea.
Lots and lots of data
There are statistics for the university itself, and generally, the courses also. Make sure you do not forget to look at both, as a course may really shine through, even if the university isn’t in the number one spot.
Look at the small stuff
It’s easy to say that you’ll disregard any universities that are below the 30th spot, however, when you look closely you can see that the difference between number 34 and number 46 can be a measly few percentage points – which doesn’t actually tell you much – and you might lose out at a great university.
The Outside world
If you are passionate about Film, Journalism or Biology, find out what employers in that field think about universities. In some cases, businesses respect certain universities because they produce wonderful and talented graduates and they themselves don’t take notice of the league tables.
What to do with the league tables?
Let the league tables give you a head start in your research process, but they shouldn’t be the only research that you conduct for your application. The league tables will give you an idea of where you want to start searching and what universities you want to maybe visit. Your course is the most important thing when it comes to applying to university, and league tables can’t tell you everything, but they will tell you valuable information if you read them correctly.
If you understand what you’re really looking for in a university course, then you can manipulate the data to suit you. If it is the general course satisfaction, the grades students receive, or graduate employment that is important to you, then look for these in the statistics.
University league tables can be difficult to decipher, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend the time looking into them. When it comes to applying to university, make sure you set enough time aside to conduct all the research you want to do for each of your top choices.
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