What do you look at first when choosing a uni?

Choosing a uni is like choosing a house. It is a way of life. What factors do you look at first in deciding where to study?

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What to think about this month - September 2013

School or college may have only just restarted, but the uni train is starting to roll out the station. It's a good time to be thinking about what and where you want study if you're in year 12 or 13, and if you already know, then it's time to get your application started.

If you're in year 12

If you're in year 13

In the news

What to think about if you're in year 12

With over a year to go before you even apply, the whole uni choice process may seem less urgent than an attack threat from a tortoise. But before you know it, that tortoise could be all over you. What with all the exams, revision, coursework, holidays, birthdays/bar mitzvahs/weddings, nights out, time spent playing Angry Birds and so on, it's never too soon to get focused. Now's a great time to be thinking about two of the big questions: what do you want to study and where do you want to study it?

First up, choose a course you’ll be happy doing. You’re going to spend a lot of time and money on this. It might as well be something you enjoy... otherwise why bother? If you enjoy your course, it'll also set you up for a rewarding career afterwards.
Bear in mind that no two degrees are the same, even if they have the same name. Studying a history degree at Essex might be completely different from History at Exeter, just as Birmingham is a very different place to Brighton.
Once you know what you want to study, there are over 140 unis to choose from and hundreds of other colleges and institutions. Many of them may offer your chosen course and that's more than enough choice for anyone. Choose the one that's right for you. Push's Uni Chooser helps you make an ordered shortlist of those that will suit you best. Put what you want from uni into the Uni Chooser and see what happens...
TOP TIP: The best way to see if a university is the right one for you to visit some. Of course, you can't visit 140 but using the Uni Chooser can help you narrow it down to a list of five or six that would be worth a visit. Most unis do a couple of open days a year but if you can't make those, most will welcome visits from possible future students all year. Many schools allow students to take time off lessons to go to university open days – if they haven't said anything about that, it's worth asking.

What to think about if you're in year 13

If you’re thinking of going to uni in September 2014 and you haven’t thought about which unis to apply to yet: You’d better strap your skates on.

You’ve got until mid-January to complete your application for most courses, but Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary courses have deadlines which are only a month away.

Even if you’re not planning on applying for those courses, all unis can start accepting applications from now, and so leaving it until the January deadline might not be the best idea. The unis will already have been making their 'yes' and 'no' piles. Some offers will already have been made. Some courses may even be full already. Leaving your application till the last minute looks like you're not serious.

If you know where you want to apply:
Then it’s a good time to start think about crafting the perfect personal statement.

The personal statement on a UCAS form is a chance to convince the people who pick who they want for their courses that there’s more to you than exams and a date of birth.

Many universities have given up doing interviews (some never did) because, as student numbers have increased and funding’s become scarcer, they simply don’t have the time. That means the 47 lines in the personal statement are increasingly the best and only chance to convince anyone you’re the right person for the course. No pressure.

Never be afraid to sell yourself and big up your wondrous attributes and talents. Work on the basis that, if you don’t think you’re great, why would anyone else?

In the news

Graduates earn £200K more on average
A report from the Ministry for Business, Skills and Innovation has revealed that graduates can expect to earn more than was previously thought. The report suggests that if you’ve got a degree, you could earn, on average £200, 000 more, over the course of a working life, than someone without a degree. This is because the recession has taken a lot of unskilled jobs out of the market, while jobs for graduates have not been as badly affected.

Students at older unis have larger workload

How much work you’ll be expected to do at uni varies greatly between unis and between courses. A survey has suggested that, broadly speaking, students at newer unis have a lower workload than older unis. The average amount of study for course like architecture and building was 40 hours a week, compared to 23 hours a week for communication courses.

More students are working alongside studying

More students than ever are finding part-time work to help support themselves alongside their studies. Some unis are really keen on this idea and offer their students lots of help to find part time work, from careers services, online job-boards, some even find jobs for students at the uni. Some unis are not so keen on the idea, and some will actively discourage students from working while they’re supposed to be studying.

Head north for student nightlife
A survey of students by Which Uni? suggests that if you’re looking for an active nightlife at uni, then you might want to head to the north of England or Scotland. Eight unis in the north of England and Scotland were rated top amongst student for a range of nightlife, from pubs and clubs to music venues and cinemas.
Of course, not everybody wants that from their uni – no two unis share the same idea of fun. What do you find fun? What are you do during the times when you’re not studying? Sit in your room, twiddling your thumbs? Continue doing something you already enjoy? Or trying something new?

More apprenticeships in the creative sector
Not sure if uni is for you? A culture-vulture or creative-type?

The Creative Employment Programme has announced 54 new apprenticeships and 56 internships within the creative and cultural sector, from orchestras and museums to galleries and theatres. Apprenticeships can be a great alterative to uni and give you the chance to benefit from on-the-job training while getting paid.

Last updated on: 18 September 2013

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