When it comes to how to choose a university, there’s an awful lot of information to wade through. We’re here to make the whole thing easier!

If you’re in lower sixth or your first year of college, then you’re probably starting to worry about how to choose a university. There’s so much information out there that the whole process can seem pretty overwhelming - that’s why we’ve decided to put together this short guide. You probably won’t come out the other end having decided exactly where you want to study for your degree, but hopefully you’ll have a few things that you can keep in mind when you’re deciding which open days to go to, or when you’re weighing up a city or a college campus. So - seatbelts on and hold on to your graduation caps - here we go!

How important is prestige and ranking to you?

How To Choose A University: The Student Hut Guide, Corpus Christie College Cambridge

Let’s start with a tricky one. One of the main things that people worry about when choosing a university is the ‘prestige’ that goes with the name. At the top of the hierarchy are the classic British institutions of Oxford and Cambridge (known as Oxbridge). Then you have the Russell Group Universities like Birmingham and King’s College. People are often drawn to these universities because of the status that their names afford graduates, but that isn’t necessarily a useful way to decide if a university is right for you. Once you’ve chosen your subject, have a read of course reviews by real students who’ve studied them. They’ll give you a much better feel for the course than a brochure handed out by the university themselves. You might find that the Drama course at a small, non-Russell Group university will suit you much better than a similar course at Nottingham, for example. Remember - rankings aren’t everything when it comes to student satisfaction.

Where in the country would you like to study?

How To Choose A University: The Student Hut Guide - Glasgow

This one’s a bit easier. Most students move away from home in order to pursue their studies at university, but take a moment to think about how near (or far) you’d like to be from your family. If you’re struggling to choose between two similar universities, then think about how important distance is you you. Are you a homebird who can’t go a week without cuddling your cat? Or are your parents the sort who love you so much that you need just a little more space. In Scotland. Think about travel costs and times, and transport links too. My only suggestion is that your university years are the perfect time to take a bit of a punt on a new place - it’s easier to move to a faraway city like London or Edinburgh when you’ve got a steady supply of student loans and very few responsibilities!

Go and visit the universities!

Once you’ve got a handful of ideas, head off to the open days and get a proper feel for the campus and the local area. Most schools and colleges will let you take a few days off to go to these events, so make the most of their generosity. Once you’ve been to a few, you’ll start to get a feel for what you do and don’t like, and hopefully there’ll be a ‘Yes, this university is the place for me!’ moment!

Don’t forget about the extras

How To Choose A University: The Student Hut Guide - boat race

The university you choose is where you’ll spend the majority of your time for the next three to four years, so it’s important that there’s enough to keep you entertained whilst you’re there. Here are some things to consider;

  • If you want to work whilst you study, is your university within reach of a city or town where you could get part-time work?

  • If you’re the sporty type, are there enough sports teams that you could get involved in?

  • Does your university offer placement years, or Erasmus sandwich years?

  • If your subject is in the sciences, how much funding do they get for research? And what are the facilities like?

  • If you’re a fan of peace and quiet, do you think you’d be able to cope with a city environment?

  • And, most importantly, do the student nights in the SU bar look amazing? (Of course they will, students are the best at partying).

So don’t worry. Many people find the experience of going to university stressful, because they’re away from home and living on their own for the first time. There’s also a lot of pressure to have, and to been seen to be having fun, especially when we’re repeatedly told that university is supposed to be ‘the best experience of your life’. Just remember that the only person you have to please is yourself, and that it’s ok to be a bit nervous! Talk to students at universities, discuss things with unbiased adults, and ask your friends what they think. You’ll be just fine!

Check out our University League Table

Or, have a go at our Pick a Degree Quiz

So there you have it, how to choose a university, Student Hut style!

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