What to look for in a uni? | From a uni student
When Trying to find the right university there are a tonne of things that are going though your mind, so I though I'd let you know what was on my uni check list.
To give you a little background I'm at Bournemouth Uni at the moment, just finished my placement year and dying to go back to Bournemouth. This is a feel that everyone should have, so here are a couple of things that I looked out for when visiting unis round the UK.
There are two main kinds of universities; city and campus. In a city university all the buildings are darted round a city, so for example right next to your lecture hall there could be a shopping centre or restaurant. At a campus uni, all the buildings are in one place and usually separate from the town or city the uni is situated.
At Bournemouth we have 2 campuses, one which is a campus campus and the other is more like a city campus (best of both). The decision is really up to you. I looked at the more standard campus campus, as I'm very much small town girl and I thought I'd be intimidated by a city based uni. However, once you've got used to it I'm sure a city campus isn't scary at all and can also be very convenient, as straight after your lecture you can do your food shop!
One thing that my dad said to me when I was looking at university was "Look at the city, can you see yourself living there for 3-4 years?" and this always stuck with me.
You want to live in a place that in your first year, you can go out and party but in your final year you can really sit down and really get some studying done. You'll also want to see what the city can offer. For example, when I was looking at Bournemouth, first of all there was an amazing beach (win), there are a tone of good shops, there a cinema, lots of sporting activities (Bournemouth FC!) and there were a tonne of nice restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs.
But the one thing to take away is "can you see yourself living there for 3-4 years?"
The kind of uni
There are different kinds of unis, but the main ones that people hear about is Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge), the Russel Group (which according to their website, a representation of "24 leading UK universities which are committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public sector.") and then the ex-polytechnics (which were unis that were focused on more "vocational" subjects I guess).
Oxbridge and the Russel Group universities are very respected for their research and they are seen to be very academic, only accepting those with ABB grades or higher with Oxbridge usually wanting AAA*. However, they are NOT the be all and end all. Yes, they are great unis but they don't and won't suit everyone.
For example, I knew for a long time that I wanted to go into business and potentially take a placement year. The Russel Group unis would offer that but, they wouldn't offer any additional support in helping me find these placement opportunities. However, Bournemouth offered so much support and they have a great reputation with companies of providing students who can really apply themselves and cope really well with real world situations. Because of this, I believe I managed to get my placement at Toyota. So for me an ex-polytechnics really suited my needs, but won't suit everyones.
Picking the right courses can be really hard as there are so many you can chose from and so many that you've probably never heard of.The first thing I'd do, is look at the subjects your taking at A-Levels or BTECs.
What are you doing? What do you like doing? What don't you like doing? What are you dreaming about doing when in a really boring lesson?
Answering these questions can really help when looking into the potential department you'd like to be in (Management, Science, Humanities, Production etc.). As soon as you know the department, then you can look into the courses and then look at the unit covered by each particular course. One tip I'd give is look at all the units covered, not just in the first first year but second and third/fourth as well. On open days you'll also have to opportunity to question lectures about the courses and see if its the right thing for you.
If looking at your A-Levels or BTECs doesn't help, then I'd suggest asking your form tutor or teacher or even family or friends for their opinion and see what they think you could do. There's no harm in asking and you may even find a course that you'd never thought of. Failing all of that, you can grab work experience. Spend a week with a family member or a friend to see what they do for a living or even just walk up to the store or email some to see if you could just sit with them for a week to gain an understanding of what they do on a day to day basis. This would be so useful and give you an idea of what you could do for a living and then find an appropriate course.
I don't know if any on these ideas have helped but this is just what I kept an eye out when picking universities.
Let me know if you've enjoyed reading this and if you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!