Once into my second year of A-levels, the dreaded time came to choose five Universities to apply for, which then lead to me picking a final choice. It can all seem very daunting, but here is my how-to guide on ensuring you pick the right University for you.
One of the most important factors to consider is distance. Do you want to be at home, near home or as far away as possible? This is a completely individual choice; some people are home birds whilst some like to fly the nest. Don’t let the choices of your friends influence your own choices, just because they are moving hundreds of miles away doesn’t mean it will suit you. Personally, I like to experience different things and I wanted to be far from home, but not too far.
Making the choice between London or elsewhere is important. London is more expensive than other cities but provides some great opportunities and experiences. You will inevitably end up with more debt upon graduation, so it is important to weigh up which matters most to you – experiences or money? For me, London is quite close to home and I have visited many times, so I wanted to experience a different city that isn’t quite as expensive. Naturally, I chose to head up North.
Many A-Level students will have in mind what course they want to study at University, but it is also important to do your research. UCAS is a great place to start because you can browse through the thousands of courses that are available. However, don’t stop at UCAS. Google what you are interested in and see what courses match your interests. If you enjoy media, why not try film studies, journalism or marketing? Once you have chosen your course, use UCAS to see which Universities offer the course. If you know you want to go up North or to London, and then narrow down your choices.
Many Universities specialise in different courses and to increase your potential on the job market upon graduation, you are best to consider Universities that are accredited in your chosen area of study. I had my heart set on studying Public Relations and I knew of two Universities that were accredited by the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) so I took a deeper look into their courses.
5. Open Days
Attend as many open days as possible at the Universities that interest you to get a real feel for what it would be like to attend. Your favourite University choices may be disregarded upon visiting and discovering you wouldn’t enjoy being there. Many students often say that visiting a University can just ‘click’ and you realise that it is where you want to go. This happened for me upon visiting Leeds Metropolitan University due to its great course, good student accommodation and excellent career prospects – all set within a vibrant and student focused City centre.
6. Make your final five choices
Some people will not fill their choices to capacity but I was always encouraged to. It is becoming increasingly difficult to gain entry to Universities and you want to keep your options open. I would recommend putting four choices that you really love and maybe the final one as a University near home just in case you change your mind on moving away. Also read up on the entry system and how many UCAS points you need to get into your chosen Universities. Do not put down a University where you need three A’s to be accepted when you are predicted three C’s, as although we all enjoy a challenge, you may stress yourself out and end up doing worse in the long run.
Overall, I chose Leeds Metropolitan University to study Public Relations with Marketing as I enjoyed media and business at A-Level, I wanted to be far from home, I loved the University and City, the course was CIPR accredited and my predicted grades meant I stood a good chance in being accepted. I hope these steps will help you in deciding which University is right for you!