The first challenge of the university application process is deciding which universities to apply to. You can choose your selection of universities randomly, or you can spend months deciding on the best options. Either way, you have to make sure you are happy with all of them. So here are some tips on how to choose a university…
1. Make sure you’ve chosen the right subject
It is fundamental to be 120% sure about your subject. You will spend your next three to six years studying it, and then the next 40-50 years working in the area. If you have doubts about your choice, read as many things about it as you can. Check job options, course contents, salaries; Google is your friend. But you definitely do not want to realize after two months of studying that you want to be a dentist instead of a mathematician after all…
2. Consult university rankings
When I started searching for universities, I checked all the major ranking tables and calculated averages. There are some which give you a general ranking, while others may have separate tables for each subject. For me, the most important data was the student:staff ratio. The lower this ratio is, the better. In smaller classes you can ask questions and understand the topics more easily.
3. Find out what the university library is like
One of the most important things is the library. You will spend a decent amount of your life in the library, so it should be a comfortable environment. Another good point to check is whether there’s a 24/7 cafè for the early birds and night owls!
4. Check the course content
You can check the course content on the university website. If there’s an area within the subject you’re particularly interested in, check whether the university has it “on its menu” or not. Alternatively, you can contact the university directly, and I am sure they will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
5. See what sports and societies are on offer
Whether you’re an avid footballer or love playing poker, you should search for societies and clubs in the university to make sure there’s something to match your hobby. All universities offer dozens (or hundreds) of extra-curricular activities, and it’s important to check these out too. University life is not just about studying!
6. Find out about the student accommodation
If you’re starting university, you will probably be moving away from your family for the first time. Therefore it is essential that the accommodation you live in is nice and friendly, somewhere you can call your “home”. Be prepared: you may have to learn how to cook, how to use the washing machine and how to do the washing up. And don’t worry about the room-mates, flat-mates or floor-mates. In my experience it takes approximately 2.5 days to be best friends with everyone in the shared kitchen.