My Life

Undergraduate Degree – My Advice For Choosing a University

Congratulations! You have University offers and now you decide where YOU want to study for your undergraduate degree. The first thing to do is take a deep breath, I know how stressful it is to have got to this point. Checking your emails every five minutes to see whether you had got an offer. Now, these offers are usually conditional offers based on the results of A-Levels, BTEC qualifications or GCSE retakes. Once you have thought everything through, UCAS will suggest you choose two Universities, one as your insurance choice and one as your first choice. The reason is it’s in case anything happens with your application or place at the first University. But try not to worry.

My Application & Decision 2014

I think this is an obvious thing, but do not rush this decision and think everything through before responding to your offers. I would suggest thinking about one University at a time and seeing what you liked and dislike, weighing up the pros and cons of the course, campus, location, opportunities and everything else you consider a contributing factor to your overall decision. Cast your mind back and think about what you saw and heard on the open days and what you have found out since, think about the strengths of the pitches and the attitudes towards you and whether you felt welcomed. Based on the impressions you had from everything and everyone involved, where do you see yourself studying for three years and also getting the best student experience?

If you find yourself being refused a place on your chosen course at one University but accepted onto another course, you will have to think about whether this is a viable option. You may automatically think this wasn’t the course I was applying to and do not want to consider it and therefore don’t worry about it OR you may decide that you liked the University so much that you may consider it. Now the University in question will have looked at your application and given you a place on a similar course or another you may have an interest in. If you are interested in this alternative course, then see the University website and take a look at what the course entails and see what modules are involved. Use any checklist you previously made and see if you can contact the University to try and get any questions answered about this new course. I cannot advise you fully as I am not you and every person is different.

Also, I know from experience what happens when someone gets inside your head and weighs in too many of your choices, you feel pressured and don’t feel the choice is your own. But I would follow YOUR instincts. You study this course and choose to be there for three years, it has to be where you are most comfortable and where you can make positive memories here. You may also have to consider the locations of the Universities you have applied to, you need to choose whether you are going to commute or live in halls of residence and then based on this, are you still wanting to live or travel to the city regularly? Then, you need to be aware of the extra money you will have to spend on living in halls of residence; student finance should be able to help with this but just be aware. 

See more information in Funding University Life

In regards to considering a nearly identical course, pay attention to the final details. You already know a university can offer you the basics, so you need to pay attention to the other details which would be personal preference. Ask yourself about the differences in the courses and does one or more of those differences attract you to that University or whether you would rather avoid the aspects that make them different, that’s your answer. You may have already gotten a “feeling” from one University based on everything else and the surrounding cities and I would trust your gut from the first time you stepped onto that campus. First impressions are everything. I would question what University you would feel most comfortable at and which one would help you grow as an individual,  both through your course and as a person.

Another question you need to ask yourself is, do you prefer a course with or without exams? You may have already chosen five courses with or without exams and you don’t need to worry about answering the question. However, if you applied to courses with exams and some with no exams, then you need to consider whether you are happy to take exams or would rather it will be solely coursework based. Which one would you prefer? (Personally, I don’t feel like I can do my best work in exams and avoid them when I can.)

To my readers who have disabilities, follow this same advice and trust your instincts, but I know from experience that there are more things to consider. Course and University practicalities, attitudes towards you and your disability, adapted accommodation, the facilities and access around the University, campus and surrounding city. Anything else you may have to think about, disability dependent of course. You need to choose not only a university and the course that is right for you but one which will accommodate your disability or needs so you can get the best student experience possible.

For details on student halls of residences, read my Undergraduate Adapted Accommodation Advice 

 A lot of this advice may seem obvious and it goes without saying but you’d be surprised at how much we may overthink a decision and ignore the simplest detail. Consider all the different aspects of what’s important to YOU. It’s about the attitude of such a place and those there that have attracted you as a prospective student and now as a full-time student to the University as much as the degree and everything else. Can you envisage studying for an undergraduate degree at this University? Remember, it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey!

Are you needing to Apply to University through Clearing?

Preparing for University? Read Time To Prepare For Your Undergraduate Degree


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