Choosing a University

If you’re applying to university this year, you’re probably at the stage of visiting lots of universities and looking towards choosing your firm and insurance choices. This is a pretty big decision to make so I decided to write about some of the things you might want to consider and tips for making the decision.

  1. Course

This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget about the academic side of university life when you’re visiting new cities and being swept up in campus tours which tell you all about the social life, sports facilities and societies available at a university. Remember that you’re coming to university to get a degree and you need to be comfortable with the course you’re signing up to – you’ll be paying £9000 after all!

Things to think about:

  • Entrance requirements – think carefully and honestly about whether the required grades for the course are achievable. It’s worth having an insurance choice with slightly lower grades as a backup if things don’t go to plan on results day.
  • Is it covering topics you’re interested in or seem useful? Bear in mind that the content of courses will likely vary quite a bit in different universities. If your interests are quite wide-ranging it might be worth considering a joint honours course – for example, I applied for straight History at 3 universities, but also applied for History and Religious Studies at one and History with Ancient History at another. So do some research about what different universities offer!
  • How good is the course? This can seem like a bit of a stupid question, because in one sense it’s difficult to know until you experience it, but its definitely worth looking at league tables to see how the universities ranks overall and for particular subjects. However, remember numbers can’t tell you everything, and if you can you should try and talk to students on an open day or applicant day to see what they think. At UEA, look out for the student ambassadors wearing blue tops.
  1. Location, location, location

Where a university is and what kind of university structure it is (campus, city etc) is certainly something to take into account. The best way to experience this is to go to the university, so if you can get along to an applicant or open day I would highly recommend it.

Things to think about:

  • Do you like the area? You need to feel comfortable in the location where you’ll be living for at least the next three years. This is perhaps more important if your chosen university has buildings and accommodation spread out across a city, but it’s also relevant for campus universities, because you’ll want to venture out at some point! It’s also worth looking into the accommodation after first year if your uni requires you to move out of university halls. Is there good quality student housing in a suitable location?
  • Campus vs city – there are different structures of university which you will want to take into account, do you prefer a campus style university with all the facilities and buildings in one place, or would you prefer a university in a city? This Telegraph article provides an interesting look at some of the pros and cons of both city and campus living: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life/10919646/University-applications-campus-vs-city.html
  1. Facilities

Universities all have a huge range of facilities available, from accommodation to sports and academic buildings to cafes and bars. Think about what your priorities are and take into account the practical implications of the facilities.

Things to think about:

  • Accommodation: this is very important, as you will have to live in the accommodation for at least a year. Think about the quality of the accommodation and its location. Also work out whether you would prefer to be catered or self-catered and whether you’re looking for en-suite accommodation or if you’re happy to share a bathroom.
  • Practical facilities: what does the university have in the way of facilities like a medical centre, laundrette and shops? These seem boring now, but they’ll be very important to your student life!
  • What are you interested in? For example, if you’re sporty, check out the sports facilities offered. UEA has the biggest indoor sports centre in Britain, complete with an Olympic size swimming pool, so definitely check that out if you love sport! You might also be interested in media, music or art to name a few. This is where it might be useful to have a look at the range of societies the university offers.

Picking a university is a big decision, and obviously a very personal choice. Although I can’t possibly cover all the aspects you might want to consider when making your choices, I hope this post might have been helpful in some way! Below I’ve listed some links to information about UEA that might be helpful if you’re considering it as your future university:

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