Choosing Universities

You just have received your AS-Level results, and now you’re probably thinking which university to go to, or which degree to do. Or even, you already had an inkling but these results have confirmed or changed your decision.

So how do you come up with these decisions in the first place? What research do you have to do? Who do you speak to, and what questions do you ask?

Parents and interested “stakeholders” will start asking the same questions after GCSEs. This is really when you start to think about higher education. What you choose to do at AS Level will normally guide you to your degree, however, the subject choice is limited. You may carry on doing something you enjoy, and then change with the plethora of degrees available at every university.

So what is the first step, I hear you ask?

The degree. This choice is the most important. Again, you can choose to do something you enjoy, or something completely different that you have an interest in. The interest part is key. Make sure your choice is your decision. See what the your degree involves – what topics are covered and what the assignments are on. Get as much information as you can at this stage. Not every degree will offer the same. There will be certain specialisations and go into detail in different areas so it is good to know what the core area covers initially.

Wanting to know more?

So you know what degree (roughly) you want to do. Good because that is the biggest hurdle. This is a 3+ year commitment that you need to keep, so this choice makes the rest a lot easier. You probably have heard of friends and others who have changed their degree or “dropped out”; that is because those people did not do enough research initially or found that the actual degree did not live up to expectations.

The next step is the university. It is easy to get side tracked by the social culture and the endless opportunities available on a night out, however, you should be ranking universities on the teaching, facilities and possibilities after graduating available. There are many more factors, but I feel that these are the most important. Look at the Time’s and Guardian’s list. See how students rate their own universities and degrees. This is a great start.

Aim for the top! Go for those Russell Group universities – do not sell yourself short. As long as you work hard and continuously there is no reason why you cannot attend institutions like Oxbridge. Use your contacts – speak to those you know and have been to those universities and see what it is really like. You will get an honest answer rather than some body trying to sell their service.

Reading still?

So now you have a list of the possible options. Go and visit  those options. See what it would actually be like. Get immersed in the culture – see the library, the student’s union, the halls, the gym facilities and most importantly, the department that you want to study at. Speak to lecturers – get their insight. They expect you to ask a whole bunch of questions, and it would be good to make a good impression as well.
Aside from these ideas. Think about how you will fund your degree? Will you apply for a grant, receive a loan or handle the finances privately? There is not right option here, just something that you are comfortable with. However, whatever you choose, apply early! Funding is not so easy to come by. The earlier you get it done and saved, the easier the transition will be into higher education.

More information about university choices and how to apply can be found on the UCAS website.