27 Jun 2019 | Student Advice

Some people know from an early age that they want to attend University to study a specific course. If you’re anything like I was though, the future probably seems a little more uncertain. In fact, I initially chose a course and University that weren’t right for me before transferring to a course and University that I loved!

With a natural knack for writing and a couple of creative writing prizes under my belt, I decided that English literature was a good path post school graduation. After achieving the grades, I received an unconditional offer and was comfortable with the path in front of me. Fast-forward a year and I had realised that this course was not the right fit. In a whirlwind blur, I re-applied and successfully transferred into the 2nd year of the Journalism (BA) at Cardiff University: two years later I’m certain that this was the right decision!

The moral of this story is that you can still have a fantastic University experience if you find yourself deciding on the wrong path. But to help you get it right first-time round, I would like to offer you some advice about how to choose the right University for you.

Check out the University Rankings

When searching for Universities a logical place to start is to figure out: “what is the best University for my subject?” There are numerous ranking charts out there and I would definitely recommend looking at ‘The Guardian University League Tables’, ‘The Complete University Guide’ and the UCAS League Tables. You should also check out the feedback given by 3rd year students via the National University Students Survey.

Check out the Campus 

Make sure you attend at least one open day! Social media can make any place look fantastic, it’s only when you get there that you can really see the University. I would also suggest visiting the campus on a non-open day to see what the University is like without all the open-day sprucing.

See what Sports and Societies are on offer

Most Universities have an astounding array of clubs, from rock-climbing groups to Harry Potter societies to medieval re-enactment clubs. Some Universities will have a reputation for certain areas, like Loughborough University and sport. Make sure you look at what clubs and societies are available and maybe even join some Facebook groups early!

Look at the wider city

Take a look at the city and see what it’s like. Depending on your priorities, different cities will appeal to you: if you like busy, metropolitan places you might prefer a larger city like Manchester, Newcastle or London. However, if you prioritise green space and the outdoors you may be better off looking at Universities in a more rural location. Make a list of your priorities and things may become clearer.

And finally…research, research, research!

Find all the information you can! Look at articles, global rankings and awards that the city may have won. For example, Cardiff was selected as a ‘European Capital of Culture’ and is one of the most affordable capital cities, and I’m really glad I made the move.

Written by Ellie Hutchings


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