I'm thinking about going to uni - now what?
So you’re thinking of going to university? Amazing! University is an incredible place to not only shape your career and your future, but meet amazing people while having the time of your life. You may be wondering what to expect from your university experience, so we’ve popped together this useful guide for students when starting university - whether you’re fresh out of college or starting a new career.
Things to do before choosing a course
When choosing a course to study at university, there’s a few crucial factors to take into consideration:
Asking yourself why you want to study is the most crucial factor to consider when picking a course. Do you wish to advance your career by gaining new skills? If this is the case, you should enrol in a course that is a natural extension of your current knowledge and skills. If you want to advance your career with your existing employment, you should take a course that is related to your field. Discussing your educational alternatives with your friends, coworkers, or employer might assist you in determining which qualifications will benefit your career.
Do you want to broaden your knowledge or make a total career change? If you want to change careers, you may need to study. If this is your motivation for studying, you should think about what job path you want to take. Studying can be costly, so do your research before deciding on a career path.
What are you interested in?
It's critical to consider what you're interested in and what course you want to pursue. Is it because you can see your bright future ahead of you? Is it because that's what your parents want, or is it because it's what you want? You can figure out the exact path you want your course to go by asking yourself now.
While not every second of your studies at university is going to be exciting, it’s also important to pursue something that you’re interested in. Studying something that you feel you should because others have told you to may become boring and therefore discourage you when it comes to finishing the course. Again, studying can be very costly, so you don’t want to waste money on a course you may not even complete.
Is it feasible?
Now that you've discovered your ambition, take a moment to double-check if it's feasible. Are you able to pay the travel, tuition, and living expenses? Are there any prerequisites, such as English language proficiency or certain qualifications from lower level courses? Don't give up - a pathway programme may be all you need to get over those obstacles. If this is truly your passion, demonstrate it in your application and you may be eligible for financial assistance.
What’s important to you?
You'll come up with a variety of criteria to rate a university or course based on your research. As a result, establish a list of the top three features you want. These factors could include school ranking or prestige, research facilities, hands-on experience, tuition costs, student support services, safety, social life, and the opportunity to travel. There are so many factors to consider, and what works for you might not work for someone else.
How do you like to study?
By now, you should have a good sense of how you prefer to study. Some students enjoy final exams, while others prefer continuous work throughout the year to keep them occupied. Some people prefer theory, while others prefer real hands-on learning; some people prefer to work in groups, while others prefer to work alone. Some students prefer to deliver their work orally, while others prefer to write reports. Choose a course that fits your learning style and you'll have a better chance of succeeding. Alternatively, if you want to push yourself, enrol in a course that will push you out of your comfort zone!
Things to do before choosing a university
Choosing which university to study at is another crucial decision. You may like the idea of studying closer to home for the familiarity of friends and family nearby, or perhaps you love the idea of starting a new chapter of your life in a brand new city. Think about these things before choosing a university.
Check out university websites
Although it may seem obvious, visiting the university's website can provide valuable information into the university's culture. Academics and students frequently engage in Q&A sessions. There are student blogs that provide a realistic picture of life on campus, which should help give you a good idea of what to expect at that university.
Check out league tables
This provides a clear picture of how well universities are currently performing. They employ a variety of indicators to dive further into what makes each university successful, such as graduate prospects, student happiness, and admittance requirements.
We propose using "The Complete University Guide," which is organised into a subject-by-subject rating. You can see how they rank based on the metrics that matter to you. However, league tables should only be used as a guideline. Because different weightings and categories are used, each league table will be unique.
Every year, rankings change, and employers are unlikely to be aware of exact ranks. They frequently assess a university based on its reputation, such as whether it belongs to the Russell Group. Certain employers have a history of only hiring graduates from specific colleges.
Will the university be able to offer a course with a placement year?
Why not choose a course that includes a placement year in your third year if you know what you want to do after university?
This will provide you with essential insight into what life is like in your chosen profession outside of university. It will put you miles ahead of the majority of graduates in your field when it comes time to seek jobs following graduation.
This brings us to the next point, which is the curriculum of the course. This is crucial to investigate because courses might differ drastically from one university to the next. The course content can be found on university websites. If you still have questions, don't hesitate to contact them; they'll be happy to help.
Whatuni.com is a fantastic website that can help you compare courses at any university in the United Kingdom. They also provide a university rating section with hundreds of genuine testimonials from current and previous students.
It goes without saying that you should enrol in a university course with entry requirements that correspond to your expected grades. However, far too many students choose an "insurance" option that, well, isn't really an "insurance" option at all. Make sure your “back-up” university requires you to have grades that are lower than your expected grades. The last thing you want is to be without a university and have to retake your classes.
It's crucial to look into student accommodation. Some universities, such as the University of Nottingham, are located on a single campus, while others, such as the University of Bristol, are located throughout the city. It's also possible that you'd want to be in a catered hall rather than a self-catered one.
What you prefer differs depending on who you are. A university with a campus feels more like a community and makes it easier to get about. You have more freedom at a non-campus university. After taking a look around, you'll get a sense of what seems like "home."
You can, of course, use Elkamy’s accommodation feature on the app to find student halls, private residencies, or even list a spare room if you’re looking for someone to share a house with. Everything can be done from within the app, and you have the added bonus of being able to get to know potential roommates before agreeing to live with them.
Go to plenty of open days
This is the single most crucial step in determining whether or not you would enjoy studying there. You may read all you want about a university, but attending an open day is the only way to get a sense of what it's like.
Make sure you plan beforehand because it will always be an action-packed day with plenty of things for students to do. You'll be able to attend seminars on the topics that interest you. This will give you an idea of what it's like to study there and what the course will entail. Make an effort to get some advice from the admissions tutor. Learn how to make your application stand out, as well as the essential elements to include so that you can make an informed decision about which university you’d like to attend.
It will also allow you to go around campus to get a sense of what the university is like and whether you could imagine yourself there. You can look over all of the available amenities as well as social activities. Remember to spend some time exploring the city, as this will be an important part of your university experience. You may even go there afterward on a non-open day to get a first-hand look at the campus.
The term "student experience" is difficult to define. Think about this when choosing a university:
Do you wish to live in a small town with a university or in a big city?
Do you prefer a university that is dispersed throughout the city or one that is more conventional and collegiate in nature?
Can you handle being far from “home” for long periods of time?
Are you used to large cities, or are you from a small town without much experience of city life?
These are critical factors to consider when selecting a university because you will be spending at least three years there, and they are generally overlooked by students.