For me, applying for university has been a process were I’ve had to learn along the way, this is why I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts about my experience. As I live in the UK, my experience may have been different to people in the US as university’s are run in different ways, however I hope some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way can help anyone planning to apply in the future! In this first post I want to give my opinions and tips on how I picked a university and the course appropriate for me.
Do your Research!
Look into as many different university’s as you can and what courses they offer. I found that looking for university league tables was the best way of finding the appropriate places to look into. League tables can be for different subject areas and show which university’s are best at which courses. I also wanted to stay on the coast as I love the beach, this meant I filtered my search to locations on the coast or in more rural areas. University websites hold a range of information on their courses and what they have to offer. I found looking into what courses have to offer is such a good way of figuring out if a course is right for you.
Make a short list!
University is a very overwhelming thing, so I found making a short list is the best way of organising my thoughts. By putting your ideas on paper, you’re able to have a clear plan of what you desire. I made 2 types of list:
- a list of universities and courses which I found via research that appealed to me
- what type of lifestyle I want from the university and the new place I’ll be living
By making these lists I was able to find the right places which had a balance of the right type of lifestyle and the right courses for me.
From this I found a range of place I wanted to visit:
- Plymouth University
- Bournemouth University
- Oxford Brookes University
- Brighton University
- Greenwich University
- Gloucestershire University
From making this short list I was also able to use this to help me decided which places I would apply to on my UCAS application. In the UK, we use UCAS to apply to university, with up to 5 university places to apply for, I was able to look into league tables and course information to make my choices for the 5 I would apply for.
Visit Visit Visit!
You’ll never know if a place is right for you if you don’t visit. Throughout the whole of October and November last year, I spent almost every weekend somewhere in the country visiting a university, getting to know the local area and seeing if the course is what I want. At university visits they offer accommodation tours and talks, subject talks which makes it a lot easier to understand what you would be studying. I went and looked at 4 of the university’s on my ‘top’ list and found that I instantly could picture myself at 2 of the universities I visited. I was able to look at the pro’s and con’s of each university after visiting and getting a taste for what it may be like. As I had already looked into the course details, the visit was mainly to look at the campus and the lifestyle on offer which gave me a full overview of my potential university experience.
From the visits I personal did, there were some stand out points that put me off and draw me towards different places such as location, accommodation and where I would be studying. From putting the research and visits together I decided that my 2 favourites were Plymouth and Bournemouth University. The visit made me realise that you can picture yourself living and studying somewhere.
As I had my 2 favourites in mind, Plymouth and Bournemouth, I had received offers from all my applications I was able to pick which 3 offers I would decline, I declined offers from Oxford Brooks, Brighton and Greenwich. After going through my process I decided these places didn’t have the best courses for me and weren’t the perfect lifestyle for me either. I was left with Bournemouth and Plymouth University which I found hard to pick between, this is were I decided to make a pro’s and con’s list. Some of the points I used as pro’s and con’s which had the biggest effect were location and the course on offer. For both universities I like the accommodation and the local area but how far I would be away form home and making sure the course was right for me were the 2 points left I had to pick between. These were my 2 main prioritises for pick the perfect place, however, Bournemouth had the best location were as Plymouth had the better course for me.
As University is expensive, I personal decided that the course should be my main priority over the location of how far I would be away from home as I am going for the education and that’s what you’re paying for. As I could imagine myself in both places, this was easier to narrow down which meant that my first pick was Plymouth University while Bournemouth was my back up choice.
And that was my experience in picking my university and the tricks and tips I used to make it a more organised and stress free experience. I hope this first University experience post was helpful and stay tuned for more of my University experience
Until next time, Amy x