Where can I study?
The UCAS course search gives you details of the institutions where different courses are on offer. You can apply for up to five, so how do you make that choice?
If the university you want to go to is on your door step, then you might think about living at home while you study. This can be a cheaper option, although bear in mind that travel may be expensive and time-consuming.
Moving away from home gives you the chance to become more independent and learn how to look after yourself; you’ll have more responsibility for things like cooking and cleaning. If your course involves a year abroad, then moving away for university does help prepare you for moving to another country.
Work out where the university is in relation to the town centre, shops and other amenities. If it’s a bit further out, then things such as getting to university from your accommodation or going food shopping are a bit more difficult.
Bear in mind the distance between your home and universities, as well as how convenient it will be for you to travel between the two.
Size and layout
Think about whether you would prefer to study at a small or large university; different universities suit different people. It is also worth considering whether you would prefer a campus university, or one with buildings spread across a city.
Have a look at university league tables to see where universities rate both overall and for the subject you're interested in. You can also have a look at how students rate teaching quality and other aspects of their studies.
Clubs and societies
Have a look at the societies that universities offer. There is usually a very wide variety of societies for you to join and they cover lots of interests; try searching the university’s name and societies in google. There are also societies for your subject which help you get to know your coursemates.
As well as sports facilities like a gym and a swimming pool, universities have other facilities which may be of interest when you’re deciding where to go. Some universities have a careers service, language advising, a language resources centre and part-time work for students so have a look into this before making any decisions.
If you’re moving away, have a look at the accommodation available. As a first year student, you may be guaranteed a place in halls but you can also find private accommodation. There are several options when it comes to halls, including the number of people you’d like to share with, the type of room you’d like (en-suite/shared bathroom) and whether you’d prefer to be self-catered or not. Self-catering means that you learn how to cook for yourself, whereas catered halls entitle you to two meals a day. In catered halls, meals are served at set times so this can be less flexible that living in self-catered halls.
Open days are a great way to get a feel for an area, university campus and course. You can meet current students and staff and find out what the university and course are like, as well as visit accommodation and have a look around the town. This is also a good chance to check out facilities and societies that the university has to offer.
When you’re having a look around the university, bear some of the following questions in mind:
- Is there a language resources centre?
- What are the staff like?
- Do students seem happy with their time at university?
- Are there a lot of lectures a week?
- What is the library like?
- What kind of non-academic facilities are there? (ie cafes, sports facilities and societies)