Choosing which university to apply to is a huge decision and impacts the course of the rest of your life. Ultimately the best way to decide if it is the university for you is to visit and ask as many questions as possible. This, however, may not be possible for some people, and selecting which establishments to visit in the first place can be a tricky process in itself. This guide presents a few important factors to consider.
First, decide whether you want to stay at home or move away. With the cost of university tuition set to increase dramatically in the UK many simply cannot afford the extra cost of moving to a new city. Here you need to think long-term and assess how long it will take and how difficult it is going to be to raise funds and pay off student loans.
If you do decide to move away then you need to consider what is most important to you. Several universities may offer the same course but the structure may be completely different. Universities also vary in their facilities; if sport is important to you then you may want to look for a university that provides a free afternoon specifically for sport every week.
If prestige is important to you then you might want to consider leaving a backup choice. It’s fair enough using your five UCAS choices to apply to the top establishments in the country. But should you fail to reach your predicted grades or unfortunately not be offered any places, then you’ll have to wait another year to reapply.
Location can have a massive impact on your university experience. It may be that you already have a certain city in mind. But it is important to consider factors such as living arrangements for the first year and years thereafter, crime rates, public transport, shopping facilities and local entertainment.
Travel to and from the city is also important. You may not anticipate that you’ll be visiting home much, but illness, family emergencies and unexpected bouts of homesickness cannot be anticipated. Therefore, the proximity of local train or coach stations and cost of travelling home could be a major consideration to take into account.
Finally, don’t be influenced by the opinions of others. By all means ask people for advice, but this is ultimately your decision. Don’t apply somewhere purely because your friends want you to go there, as they may not get offered a place or may decide to go somewhere else in the end. Also, one university may be perfectly suited for one individual but not another. Just because someone you know has recommended a university doesn’t mean it will fit all of your needs.