By Jenna Colaco
It’s getting to that time of the year where you have got some (or maybe all) of your offers back from the universities you have applied to. It can be both an exciting but also difficult time because it leaves you with important choices to make. In this blog post, I will be exploring some of the ways that I evaluated the different offers I had.
The course you have chosen is the backbone of your university experience. It is so important that you pick something that you will find stimulating. At this stage of the process, you have probably picked a broad subject such as ‘History’ or ‘Chemistry’, but all of these subjects are taught and assessed differently across universities. To find out if a course could really work for you, have a look at the different modules you could study in each year and the modes of assessment. For example, some people work better writing essays rather than taking more exams. Some universities divide your final grade by adding up the work done in your penultimate and final year, while others only count the work and assessments you do in your final year. Really understand the kind of course that you are signing up for. Is it more practical or theoretical? Do you get a year abroad or an industry placement? Does it come with an integrated masters? Compare what each university is offering you but also keep in mind that syllabuses do change from time to time, so don’t get too fixated on one specific aspect if it is subject to change.
2. Campus/ Collegiate
Understanding the difference between campus and collegiate universities is also very important because it could impact where you spend a lot of your time. Some universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Lancaster and York) are known as collegiate because they are split up into smaller bases referred to as colleges. Students at Oxford for example are given a college at undergrad and this is where they would have their accommodation, some of their smaller teaching classes and sometimes also their catered meals. This means that you can spend a lot of your time with people from a range of subjects but still have one thing in common— your college. However, a campus university has one (or a few) central campuses which are usually quite close to accommodation buildings where students can all come together for social gatherings as well as teaching. It is important to note that whether you attend a campus or collegiate university, you can always find ways to get involved with societies, sports, charities or any other interests you have.
3. City vs town
Make sure to either visit (if you can) or research the area around the university/ college you would like to attend. Have a look out for things that are important to you, e.g. how far are the supermarkets, the local gym or parks are. Decide if you would rather live in a big city, e.g. London or Manchester, or whether you would prefer a smaller city or town.
While many students will fund their studies through student loans and support from families, some might also have part time jobs. If getting a job is important to you, have a look at university guidelines around students working during term because some universities have guidance about it. It is very important to think about how you will fund your studies and whether there are any specific scholarships, bursaries and other funds that can support you if you need them.
Lastly, if you are not happy with the university offers you have received, take some time to think about whether you would like to wait and reapply to university or maybe go through clearing after your exam results. Going to university is a wonderful achievement, but it should be something that you want to do and decide with all the information that you need to make an informed choice.