Choosing a university is an exciting yet huge decision. You have to make sure that the place you choose is the kind of environment you are prepared to live in for the next 3-4 years, and that the course you decide on is one that inspires you to learn. The most important thing about your choice is, firstly, that you are going to university because you want to go, and not because somebody else wants you there and, secondly, that you leaving home because there is something out there that interests you and that you want to pursue- not because your dad thinks you should be a doctor/lawyer/linguist. There is no point studying something that doesn’t interest you, and there is nothing wrong with changing your mind about what you want to do. I did this, rejecting my offers to study literature last minute, and applied through Extra to study languages instead. Thankfully, my rash decision worked out in the best way possible!
I’ve put together a list of things that I think are important to consider before making your choice.
Course Content- Once you’re sure about what you want to study, take a look at the course content for each of your possible univeristy choices. Do the modules interest you? Are there many contact hours? How are you assessed? One of the things that I love about my course is that we study a lot of contemporary literature in the languages we study, instead of works from the 15th century. A lot of language courses don’t do this. Also, my university offers a year abroad that must be spent in both countries of the languages being studied on the course. I have heard that some language courses elsewhere only allow students to go to one of the two countries.
Area- City or town? Big or small? Do you want a campus based university or one where different colleges/buildings are spread out across the city? I like being in a campus based university as everything is in one place and you feel “part of” the student body. However, city based universities tend to be more integrated into society and are near to shops, restaurants and bars. Don’t forget that if you do choose a campus based university, you’ll probably only live on campus for your first year, and then you’ll be expected to rent somewhere in town. Bath is a campus uni but I lived in town from first year, and I got to know the city so much faster than some of my friends. I’ve also been told that living on campus can sometimes feel like you’re living in a seperate, “student” world.
Appearance– We may pretend that this isn’t important, but I think most students care about what their university looks like. I visited one where the buildings were dark and cramped, and this put me off straight away. My own personal regret is that I didn’t think about this a lot, and didn’t choose a Hogwarts-y university. My university sometimes looks like a pile of scrap metal, but it has a lake and is situated in what is in my opinion the most beautiful city in the UK. Hey, you can’t have it all.
Students’ Union– Remember to take a look at the Students’ Union when you visit univeristies. Does it organise lots of events? Do they take the opinions of students seriously? What is their student satisfaction rate? These are all questions you can ask. Also look into how many societies and sports clubs your Students’ Union offers. These are fantastic for making new friends and trying out new things.
Facilities- Consider the library. Are there big spaces to work? How about computers and printers? You might want to find out if the university has a sports centre or a gym and a pool. Some places offer writing centres to practice academic writing, or help centres which offer advice on housing, funding and well being.
St Mary’s University has created a series of “Be Part Of It” videos, designed to make the process of choosing a university easier. They talk to some of the students there about what exactly is was about St Mary’s that made them want to join. I think the videos are very helpful and you can take the things these students liked about their university and use them as a checklist for the places you are considering.
The lovely people at St Mary’s have given me the chance to offer my readers a giveaway of one Waterstones voucher with a value of £10! Enter below to win. Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to UK residents.
*This post was not sponsored, but I was given the possibility of choosing a gift voucher for one lucky reader!