Choosing a college or university
Whether you have your heart set on a particular university or college, or haven't yet decided where to pursue your chosen course, there are a few things you should consider.
Choosing where to study
Where you study can be almost as important as what you study. You should be sure to consider the extra-curricular aspects of your institution - like what clubs and societies there are to join, as well as the academic ones. Wherever you go, you'll want to feel happy and settled. For example, would you prefer somewhere in the countryside or a city/town-based university or college? Do you plan to live at home or move away?
Facilities, accommodation and costs
Although course and location are crucial when you're choosing a place to study, it's also worth thinking about:
- size of the institution: is it one campus, or are the buildings scattered?
- social facilities: what are the pubs, clubs, live music venues, cinemas and sports facilities like?
- accommodation: what are the halls of residence like and how much does university and private accommodation cost?
- cost of living: how high are the costs of food and entertainment?
Living at home
For some people it offers ‘the best of both worlds’ and it is becoming more popular as more institutions, such as further education colleges, offer higher education qualifications.
Moving away to study is still a popular option. It may make sense to move if you want to study a particular course at a specific university or college. Some students also value the experience of living in halls of residence, or in shared accommodation, as an important part of university life. Others want the opportunity to experience living in a different part of the country.
Support during your course
It’s worth researching the help and support that would be available to you at different universities and colleges. This will vary widely depending on the type of institution you attend and the type of help and support you need. For instance, many universities and colleges have study skill centres to help students adjust to academic life.
All universities and colleges will have support staff to help you with the kinds of problems you might encounter, whether it is the purely practical - a problem with housing, for example - or the very personal.
Do you have a disability?
Knowing in advance about the support available can be especially important if you have a disability. Colleges and universities have an obligation to make provision for disabled students. You may also qualify for extra financial help.
- Disability support in higher education (people with disabilities section)
- Financial help for students with disabilities (people with disabilities section)
Finding out more about your place of study
With so many higher education courses on offer, it’s important to choose the right one for you. Attending an open day is a good way to find out more about a university or college’s facilities. It will also give you a chance to gauge the atmosphere and get a feel for the institution - and the area it's in.
Ask yourself if you can imagine yourself spending the next three or four years of your life there? If you get in touch with the Students' Union at your preferred institution, you'll be able to find out about existing students’ opinions. Many student unions produce an ‘alternative prospectus’ based on students’ views. which might be helpful to you.
Get facts and figures on universities and colleges
Before making a final decision on where you'd like to study, take time to look at objective information on the college or university's performance. The Unistat's website includes results from the UK National Student Survey, which can give you an insight into what students think of a university or college.