When people tell you how not to choose your university they will nearly always say ‘Don’t pick one because your best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend is going/goes there’. This is sound advice – you should choose your university based on what YOU want to study and were YOU want to go. You’ll make new friends wherever you go, and old ones will stick by you however far apart you end up. But what else should you be mindful of making your decision based on?
Here is my list of how not to go about choosing a university:
- Don’t decide on the university because it is far away from/close to home –both can have huge advantages. The UK has a lot to offer in the means of transport, be it trains, planes or the student favourite the Megabus, so home may not be so far away. Being close to home means family and friends are close by, and money can be saved by living at home (if your parents will keep you). I didn’t really mind if I was far away from home, and wasn’t too interested in the local universities so looked all up and down the country and even ventured into Scotland and Wales.
- Don’t decide on the university based on the tuition fee – places charging under £9000 shouldn’t be your priority (a student loan will cover your university fees). If you want to study on a budget look in to the living costs of the area that the university is in as a way to save money rather than fees. Lots of bursaries are available from universities if you think that financing studying might be a problem.
- Don’t decide on the university based on its reputation – be it a prestigious institute or a party capital. A reputation is unlikely to be an accurate representation of a university, and it doesn’t matter what others people think, it’s all about what you think, so go along to an open day, check out what the university has to offer you and get a feel for the place.
- Similarly don’t decide on the university based on how pretty the prospectus is – they will always try to impress you with what they print. Prospectuses are useful for finding out basic information about the university and the courses you might be interested in but don’t be drawn in by the fancy pictures. If you are interested after looking at a prospectus, go to a Visit Day to get a feel for the place, ask questions and find some current students who can tell you what the university is really like to be a part of.
- Don’t decide on the university because your parents went there/want you to go there – it’s probably changed a lot since they attended. Though your parents can be helpful when looking at universities, taking you to Visit Days, helping with applications etc. (I know mine certainly were) don’t let them pick a university for you – they aren’t going to be the ones sitting through the lectures, learning the content and living there.
- Don’t decide on the university because the course looks easy – come to university for a challenge! When you are paying for your education looking for the smallest amount of contact hours and least demanding course isn’t going to get you the most for your money. Pick something that interests you and that you are willing to get out of bed for a 9 o’clock lecture after a night out. But don’t bite off more than you can chew – some courses can involve long hours and lots of stress, and it isn’t for everyone.
- Finally, don’t decide on the university because an online quiz told you it was the one for you. Just no! Research is the key to finding the best university for you, and it doesn’t count as research!
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