Tips on Choosing the Right University
The task of choosing the right university or college can be a daunting one - after all, not only will the decision have an educational component, there will also be a geographical aspect to consider. For many this choice will present their first opportunity to leave home. Many students feel the experience of living in the halls of residence of a university campus, or in shared accommodation, to be a necessary part of university experience. Others are content to stay where they are, commuting to classes; this has the advantage of saving money in rent, and allowing a continuation of home life, while still yielding the university experience. Unless your particular course is so specific that it demands attendance at a particular university, the choice to remain at home, or to move out, should be settled early on.
As with most difficult decisions, where many options are on offer, a judicious strategy is to investigate as many potential pathways as possible. All universities and colleges hold open days, where parents and students are able to come and see for themselves these places of learning. Attend as many of these as possible: even those that do not rank amongst your top choices, for this will give you experience, and a useful comparison to measure other potential places against.
Make sure you investigate the student unions, and if possible, try to talk to a few of the pupils currently studying at the university.After having visited a few universities, you will become more proficient at noticing their features. Explore the area around the university: what are the local amenities like? What kind of social facilities are on offer? Cinemas, pubs, clubs, music venues- whatever is important for you. If you are bored, or feel ill at ease after walking around the area for a few hours, how do you think you will feel after spending a few years in the area? That is what you are assessing here: the potential for a place to be called home. You should assess the quality of the lecturers in your desired field of study: are they involved in research? How long have they been associated with the university? Are they IET accredited? A university may have all the smooth surface tarmac and tech spec computers money can provide, its long hallways glittering with a sparkling sheen, and bear a name of fabled illustrious heritage, but a place of learning is only as good as the quality of teachers it provides.
An excellent source of information is the unistats website. This is a satisfaction guide, compiled by students themselves in the national student survey. This unbiased report will show clearly opinions on which is the best university for your subject, as well as job prospects for different courses.
Don't base your opinion too strongly on the published results of universities: their arranged order of academic rank is not a proportionally linear representation of their suitability for you. Your time at university will be a significant one - it will not simply be an academic learning experience, but also a period of personal development. You will make new friends, and - if having chosen to leave home - make a new life, in a new environment.