Choosing a University
Before you start looking at universities, you should decide what course you want to do. To enter some careers you will need to study a particular subject, e.g. medicine or nursing, but other subjects can lead to a variety of careers, including further study/qualification in a profession.
If you are unsure what you want to study, think about your current subjects, and whether you would like to continue with them, or aspects of them. For example, if you like Biology but don’t enjoy plants, look at a degree in Human Biology. If you like History, but want to do something more practical, look at Archaeology.
The content of some courses will overlap, and the same subject at different universities can consist of very different modules, so make sure you look at the different options that are offered at the universities you are interested in.
Knowing what grades you are predicted will help you to narrow down the universities to those who will accept your results. Some will give offers based on UCAS points, some by grades, and within these conditions may be other requirements, such as a specific grade in a particular subject. Not all universities will accept General Studies, so make sure you check this out if you are relying on it to meet part of your offer.
Some people prefer going to university near home, some prefer to move away. If you don’t have a preference you can look at any university that offers your subject with your grades, but if you know that you want to be in a particular area, you can focus your search on the universities in these places.
Some things to consider when looking at location are how accessible it is from your home, how close the university is to transport links – some are based in the middle of a city, others are several miles outside, for example. What the city itself is like is also something to consider, how cheap is the cost of living, how safe is it etc.
If there are any specific things that you want the university to have, such as a swimming pool, you need to make a note of these. It is also useful to note which are essential and which ones you could live without, because it is unlikely that every university you are looking at will have everything you would like.
If you will be living on campus, it is important to look at accommodation, how much it costs, its location in relation to the university/your department, and whether it is catered/self-catered or en-suite.
Once you have a list of serious contenders, go to as many open days as you can. No amount of looking at websites or reading a prospectus will demonstrate the atmosphere of the university, and this is as important as anything else when considering where to spent at least three years of your life.