For many students, choosing what university to firm on their UCAS can be a breeze. Sometimes, the decision is not so easy. When, even after the countless open days and hours spent scrolling through league tables, your heart still isn’t set on a particular university, committing yourself to spending the next three years of your life at a place that you’re still unsure about can seem daunting. However, it is absolutely possible to firm one of your offers with confidence. Here are some steps you can take to pick the university of your dreams.
Don’t rely on league tables
During the final year of my A-Levels I felt that I was in an impossible situation, having narrowed my offers down to two universities. Both highly ranked, in amazing locations and just a 15-minute train journey away from each other, there were very few characteristics to differentiate them. The inability to make a decision consequently made me stressed about something I was meant to be looking forward to.
The problem was that I could not decide based on cold hard facts alone. When you’re a clueless sixth former trying to compare universities based on prestige, league tables can seem like the best place to look. However, they can actually be misleading, sometimes drastically changing from year to year and disadvantaging some newer universities which have not built up their reputation yet. Therefore, when you are making your final decision, basing it on a great course and a university that is right for you personally should be the most important step. Which brings me on to…
Doing your research
Even after finding out everything there is to know about your course, getting personal perspectives from current students is incredibly important. There are a huge number of vlogs made by students spilling the tea about everything that goes on at your prospective university. Posting about your situation on The Student Room is also a must for gathering student opinions. The university reps on the website are always willing to help and will often give you unbiased and detailed answers. If you know where to look, there is a wealth of advice out there aimed at helping you plan your next steps. However, it’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with information.
Make a list
Gathering everything you’ve learnt into one place is really important to make sure that you don’t confuse yourself. That could look like creating a spreadsheet with the answers to key questions about each university, such as whether it is campus or city-based, how effective the student support is or even whether the cost of living there is realistic for your budget. Above all, you need to be asking yourself at every turn whether this university is right for you as a person. It’s common for students to want to change their identity when they get to university. However, if you’re not keen on partying now, it’s unlikely that you will suddenly want to go to the club every night if you pick somewhere well known for its nightlife.
Trust your gut
In the end I went with the safest choice, the most prestigious of my offers with the best career prospects. While I’m enjoying my time at university, it didn’t live up to all of my expectations and sometimes I still wonder what might have been. But that’s okay. Whatever option you choose, it’s vital to go with your gut feeling and realise that university is what you make of it. If you end up enjoying it less than you thought you would, it’s not the end of the world. The most important thing is getting the most out of the next few years of your course, and coming away with a (hopefully) good quality degree. Afterwards, you will have the rest of your life ahead of you.