It’s June, which is a horrifying thought – the longest day of the year is less than a week away! But other than existential angst, June also means that Universities are opening for applications. And they want applications. Your application.
There’s over 150 Higher Education Institutes in the UK and they offer around 100,000 courses. The choice is absolutely staggering and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when choosing a uni.
The resources that exist to help you choose are often just as bad – league tables with dozens of categories; you might in interested in knowing a university’s research quality but what does a research quality of 3.34 mean?
Then there’s accommodation, student reviews, course content, teaching styles, required grades, living costs… it’s exhausting just thinking about them, let alone trying to decide.
But decide you must.
Cut back on all the waffle and the fluff. Understand what you want to go to university for, and how you will enjoy university.
With this in mind, we should break our university choice down into three sections.
This is your course and studies; the standard thing associated with universities. It’s vital to go to university to study something that you enjoy.
There are some degrees that lead into specific jobs, such as medicine, bio-engineering, architecture, but for the majority of us, we primarily learn soft skills from our courses that equip us for all manner of job. For example, I studied Ancient History at university – I don’t use my knowledge of the decline and fall of the Roman Republic in my daily life, but I constantly use the writing, public speaking and critical thinking skills.
Given that most of us don’t end up in a job directly linked to what we study, it is incredibly important that you study something you enjoy – we do better at things we enjoy, and if we do well at something, then we enjoy doing it – it’s a self-reinforcing cycle of positivity.
It’s very easy to make your choice based solely on the academic. This is a mistake. A big one. For an average degree you’ll be studying for three years, and the average course only has five or six hours of work a day. You need to make the most of the remaining eighteen hours of your day, and no, you can’t just sleep. I’ve tried.
At university you’ll have the option to join a massive range of cubs, societies and sports teams; just like with your course, make sure you’re going to a university that offers activities that you enjoy.
And think about the university’s location as well – do you enjoy a vibrant nightlife and packed crowds, or do you prefer a slower pace and easy access to lovely countryside? Again, bring it back to your needs and what you enjoy.
Finally, think about independence and what it means to you. Do you want to get as far away from your parents as possible, or would you prefer to stay closer? Do you want to get thrown in the deep end of student life, or does a more cautious approach seem better? There’s not a right or wrong answer to any of these questions, but knowing the answer to them will make your choice of university far easier.
It’s confusing and chaotic applying to university, but you’ve got five choices – it’s not all or nothing. If you focus your choices on what you need from your university experience, and what you enjoy, then you can’t go wrong.
Guy Reynolds is a graduate of Cardiff University with a BA in Ancient History and an MA in Ancient and Medieval Warfare. Guy’s plan is to gain his doctorate and spend his life studying increasingly niche areas of history. Guy has lots of experience working with wild animals, from Falconry Centres to Wetherspoons, and he loves anything to do with books.
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