I realise I haven’t posted on here in a while… or in fact at all this year so far. A combination of lack of confidence in my own writing and having the standard January sniffles meant I started writing things but abandoned or trashed them.
And now we’re in 2015 and I have realised that I was trying to make my uni choices 7 years ago.
But I still remember what it was like looking through prospectuses, doing the UCAS forms, visiting lots of campuses…
So I decided, seeing as I have been speaking at our visit days and have also done School and college visits, I would write a post about choosing which uni to go to. This I THINK makes a change from my usual ‘your typical prospective British student is mis-sold university’ posts.
Please note; I am not an academic and am only writing this from my own experience as a recent graduate and having worked in HE for a couple of years. I know how hard it is to cut through the endless prospectuses and emails you get. I was the first from my family to go to uni and I was lucky my parents came along with me but they weren’t pushing me to make choices.
Whenever I talk or write about this stuff it comes from a place inside of me that wants every other prospective student ever to not make the mistakes I made and to make more of uni that what I did. It was a big enough financial risk for me at the time and with increased fees it’s getting riskier and is not to be wasted.
Visit as many universities from your list as possible.
You won’t truly know a place until you’re there. I know there are probably plenty of people who pick their uni without visiting and are perfectly happy but trust me if you’re having a hard time deciding between unis or which Russell Group uni to pick this can help you narrow down to your top 2 choices at least.
There is no such thing as a stupid question
Most people working on visit or open days are there because they want to help you. Make the most of them and if you can’t think of what to ask wait until after the day itself and email them. If you speak to someone and they don’t know the answer or you’d like more detail, whether they are staff or student, ask them to refer to someone who can help.
Make your uni choice for you.
It’s great if you get to go to campuses with friends or loved ones but try not to be completely swayed by what they think. If you like a place/course GREAT. Don’t be misguided by friends who want you to study near them. This is a great time to be completely selfish. Do your course and go to your uni for you, not anyone else.
While we’re on that subject, making friends at uni
One of my biggest fears before going to uni, because I was from a small town and because I’d spent 7 years in School with the same people, was that I wouldn’t make any friends. Rest assured you will not be alone. You will not make ‘no friends’ it may take you some time to feel as though you fit in, but give it as much time as possible before deciding whether it’s the right fit for you. You will make friends with people you live with, people on your course, people in societies – all sorts!
While we’re on that subject, long distance relationships at uni…
They can work. Some do, some don’t but don’t make a uni choice based on what your high school/college/sixth form partner is doing. Whether you’re at opposite ends of the country or at unis in cities nearby you can still run into problems and you can also make things worsl. And don’t get me started on going to the same uni as your partner refer to point above about making your uni choice for you ^
Ultimately, trust your gut. You will know when you are there whether it feels like a good fit.
Parents always say to me “We’ve been to lots of Russell Group universities, how do we start to tell the difference?” and as much as I know parents play a key role in their child’s education and as much as I know they want the best for their offspring, they are not the ones who need to ‘tell the difference’. The difference will be the students you speak to, the atmosphere, the learning environment.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t go to uni immediately after School/College or if you don’t go at all
Sometimes it can feel like the only option. But if uni doesn’t feel like the right fit you can defer or cancel your place. Uni will always be there but there are other options.
Not going to uni twitter is really useful and is ‘dedicated to apprenticeships ,distance learning ,foundation degrees, gap years and voluntary work as well as ways to get a sponsored degree.’ – give them a follow
Apprenticeships are also another option that both my younger siblings have taken up. Although they may involve you living at home for a little while longer you can get a stable role and earn and learn! What’s not to like? Apprentice eye is a good twitter account to follow or you can go on their website.
I didn’t look at any kind of preparatory book or article before I started uni and I wish I had.
Resources. Read them. You will have worked so hard and done so well to make it to uni but the learning and developing doesn’t end there so here are some books you may find useful;
I may add to the list above but they are a good starting point. If anyone wants to get in touch with me and ask me questions then fire away in the comments or find me on twitter @eemaalou Good luck to everyone applying