Five things to consider when choosing your university
Deciding to go to university is probably one of biggest life decisions you will ever make. Spending £9000 a year is a lot of money, so you need to ensure that you're spending your money wisely. Here are my top five things to consider when choosing your university.
1. The location
Considering where you want to study is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing to go to university. Do you want to live far away or close to home? Do you want somewhere remote and rural or do you want somewhere very urban and busy? Everywhere has its advantages and disadvantages so choose wisely.
I chose to go to Bournemouth University because I loved the idea of living in a coastal town and I have no regrets. Living by the beach is one of my favourite things. Its not too far away from my home in Oxfordshire too, just one train ride away. Its a distance from home, but not too far if I ever want to go home for the weekend.
2. The course
Have you in detail scrutinised the course? Most universities in England charge £9000 a year (some are even higher) so you want to make sure that the course you are paying for will meet your needs for what you want to achieve.
Look at how the course is taught in terms of contact time with lectures and classes and also consider how you are assessed, does the work involve exams or is it coursework based?
Of course, you don't 100% know what the course is fully like until you're actually on it, but do your research, the student satisfaction survey can help get a feel for things from students that have been on the course.
3. Your source of income and cost of living
Living at university is expensive, so consider how you will cover your living costs.
The Student Loans Company will provide maintenance loans for any qualifying student. The amount they provide varies on a number of factors, mainly to do with your parents financial status. The more your parents earn, the less maintenance loan you qualify for.
Will your maintenance loan cover the cost of living? This includes the practical stuff, such as rent, bills and food, as well as all the disposable things such as nights out or new clothes. If the answer is no, then consider if you will need to get a part time job, maybe at a bar or a shop.
In my case, I qualified for the least amount of maintenance loan. However, I was lucky enough to have a job that I went back to during my breaks from university during my first year, which kept me going. During my second year, I unfortunately lost this job as the store closed down, so I did have some help from my parents.
In my first year of study I also had a scholarship from the university which covered a lot of my disposable things ( I admit, most of this money I spent on alcohol). It's worth looking into what funds the university offer too.
4. Activities outside of your course
University isn't just all about the course. Of course you're paying for what you are studying, but university is much more wider than just about learning your chosen topic.
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in other things that you may not have even considered before. Have a look to see what societies, clubs and activities you can do outside of your course. Joining the radio station, surf club or even the Harry Potter society, You name it, theres probably a club for it at university.
5. Networking and industry links
When you graduate, you're going to be looking for a job, so considering what links the university already has to industry is quite important.
Does your course offer guest lectures from industry professionals that you can then connect with on LinkedIn afterwards?
Some courses offer a mandatory or optional placement year, so if you have the oppertunity I'd definitely recommend doing a placement. I believe anything you can do to get your foot in the door in the career that you want to do, the better.
I hope anyone reading this that is considering going to university finds this helpful - I know the challenge of making the right choice is quite daunting. If you have any questions, or want to ask me about my university experience, feel free to comment.
Thanks for reading,