Choosing a university can sometimes be a difficult and life-changing decision, it could determine your career prospects or the friends that you have for life. Eeeeek. I’ve been there, a long time ago now, but despite the initial difficulty I definitely made the right decision in the end.
I loved the university I went to, it was the best decision I’ve ever made but despite that I still met several people who felt that they had made the wrong choice. For me university changed my life, I met some of the most amazing people and it changed me as a person in a way that I could never have imagined. Up until sixth form I had been a shy, quiet person and sixth form started to help me build my confidence but university was a different thing altogether. I threw myself in to the experience, joining numerous societies and I even stood in the universities Union elections (above), something the shy me would never have contemplated. I’ve often wondered what would haven happened if I had gone to another university but it’s impossible because the university and the people I met are a huge part of who I am now.
So using my personal experience and the conversations that I have had with friends and colleagues, here are my top tips on picking a university.
1- Think about the basics.
Your course is going to largely dictate which universities you apply to, particularly if you have a really specific or rare course, and of course this has to be considered. However the first thing you really want to ask yourself is do you want to go away from home? For some of you, like a lot of my friends in school you won’t want to go too far, you might even consider living at home but the vast majority of you will want to get away.
I don’t blame you, I lived away from home and I think it’s one of the reasons that I loved university so much. Not only did I leave with a qualification but I gained a lot in terms of life skills and experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. In all honesty I had never intended on moving away but when I visited Aberystwyth University, I just knew that it was the one for me.
Then have a think about how far you are prepared or wanting to go! Once you’ve made these basic decisions you can start narrow it down to the universities in that area that do your degree. After that, you can have a cup of tea and move on to point 2!
2- Visit them.
I cannot stress enough the importance of visiting the university before you make a decision and as I just mentioned, it made all the difference for me. When I was choosing my universities I must have visited about 6 and I automatically knew if I liked them or not, but Aberystwyth was something different altogether. I knew that it was the university for me, I automatically felt at home and could picture myself living there. Open days are the perfect opportunity to get a feel of the place and to ask any questions that you or your family might have. Don’t forget to speak to the students while your there, ask them what services there are and what the social life is like!
Top Tip- Visit as many as you possibly can and if your able to, even visit universities that you have no plans to go to. Not once had I considered Aber before I visited and it was only on the fly that I decided to, obviously it was the best thing I did.
3-Sit down and think.
I find that writing really helps me make difficult decisions because it allows me to clarify my thoughts and make the best decision that I possibly can. I suggest that once you have considered these points and visited the universities of choice, you sit down and think about it for a while. Ultimately you have to follow your heart and gut instincts, so give them time to tell you.
How did you chose your university?