With all the different universities and courses out there, how do you know which ones to choose? We’ve come up with a few pointers to help you decide.
It’ll need to hold your interest for the next three or four years, so be honest with yourself – does the subject inspire and excite you? What else is there to learn, and where could it take you? Excelling at a subject and caring about it aren’t always the same thing – you’ll work better and harder on a course that you love.
Do plenty of research, to find out how that course is viewed in the industry. Does the job require that specific subject, or are there other pathways to explore? Universities and employers are becoming increasingly flexible, so give yourself as many options as possible.
It might open up a new career path – maybe it’s just a passion that you’ve always had. Whatever the reasons, make sure they’re the right ones for you. Do your research – understand what’s involved in studying that subject at university. At degree level, every subject has theoretical modules and classroom time, so it won’t all be hands-on learning.
If two courses have the same title, it doesn’t mean they’ll cover the same content. What modules will you be studying on your course? How are they delivered, weighted, and assessed? You’ll need to know these things, before committing to a choice.
A university course is only as strong as its lecturers, so take a look at their staff profiles – if you’re going to learn, make sure you’re learning at the cutting edge of your subject.
Take any opportunity to see the quality of students’ work – it’ll give you a great indication of the scope and possibilities of the course. Interested in art and design? Try to attend the university’s end of year show, and judge for yourself – in a few years, that could be you!
Increasingly, employers want more than a degree – they’re looking for evidence of professional knowledge, skills, and experience. They’ll want versatile, well-rounded people, who can thrive in the cut and thrust of a workplace environment. So does your course come with the opportunity to complete a work placement, or internship? This experience can really enhance your job prospects, and employability.
What attracted me to the course is that I could touch into many aspects of business such as Economics, Finance and Marketing. I could learn a bit from each of the modules in my first year before I decided to specialise in Marketing for my second year.
Olivia Snellgrove, BA (Hons) Business Management and Marketing
Hit the road. The more universities you visit, and the more questions you ask, the better informed your final choice will be. Open days are as much about choosing a new home for yourself, as picking the right course – a little research goes a long way.
Know what you want from your environment. Entertainment on your doorstep, or peace and quiet? Campus life, or the heart of a city? There’s a university for every taste – and often, there’s separate campuses within those universities, offering different types of living experience.
What are the facilities like? Sports? Drama? Music? University’s as much about learning beyond the classroom, as inside it. You’ll have lots of opportunities to learn new skills, and build existing ones – you should leave the university a bigger, braver person.
Money matters. How do the average rental costs stack up, from university to university? Will you be reliant on public transport? Is there a good range of affordable shops, from area to area? Pick wisely, and know your likely budget before committing to a choice.
Compare, contrast, investigate. In between the open days, it’s easy to forget those little details that can help you to make a decision. Knowing what matters most to you is important. So keep a spreadsheet handy, along with a scoring system – it’ll help you to weigh up universities, against the same criteria.
Think about the local job market. If you enjoy your time at university, you may want to stay in the area. Research the job prospects in your particular field – are there likely to be opportunities locally, once your degree’s finished?
Go with your gut. A good-looking university with great facilities, inspiring staff, and lots to do outside the classroom? A town that never sleeps, with wide open spaces on your doorstep? It probably is as good as it sounds – go with your instincts.