Applying to universities can be daunting. Let’s face it – deciding where you’re going to spend the majority of your time for the next 3+ years is a pretty big decision. There’s probably a hundred different things on your mind, and that’s totally normal.

However, I wanted to show you that it doesn’t have to be scary – all it takes it for you to follow a few simple steps, and here they are:

Decide what you want to study

It’s really important that you don’t just rush and make your choices based on which universities you think look fun. The course you choose is really important, as this is what will take up most of your time and shape your future career. At this point, you could still be deciding on the exact course, but it’s good to have an idea of the general area. If you have absolutely no idea, then search for the ‘Buzz Quiz’ on the UCAS website. It should give you some clues.

Next, decide how you'd like to be taught

Have a think about what kind of lessons you enjoy. Do you like practical lessons where you’re on your feet, doing experiments or running around? Do you prefer to work in groups and discuss your ideas? Maybe you prefer to work independently, and soak up lots of information from a book? Well, thinking about this may help you narrow down your options and choose the exact course.

Not every course is taught in the same way, and you’ll even find that the same course is taught differently from university to university. Really investigate on

If you’re considering a course that has barely any contact time, and you struggle to self-motivate, it may not be the one for you. Choose courses that would really motivate you to get out of bed each day. Once you have an idea of the courses, look into which universities teach them. You’ll then have your shortlist of universities to research.

For me, I knew I wanted to study Psychology, and I really loved practical lessons at college – anything where I was in a lab, or up and about. For me, it was important to study a Psychology course with a lot of practical elements and with interesting facilities, so those were the courses that I shortlisted.

Visit open days

I can’t stress this enough. It’s SO important to go to Open Days, they’re the very best way to see what your student life would be like at the universities on your shortlist. Go to as many as possible, and really make the most of the day. Talk to students, academics, even strangers on the street. Find out everything that you can about the course you’re interested in.

If you go along to several Open Days, you may need to refresh your memory of exactly what you saw. Here at Leeds Beckett, we have our Virtual Open Day where you can do just that. Simply search for it on our website.

Other things to consider

So, you’ve explored all of your universities and you have an idea of the ones you’d like to apply to. Before you take the plunge and make them your choices, stop to think if you’ve considered the following:

  • Employability - Does the university help you to find the right job at the end of your studies? Can you get part time work and build up your CV during your studies? Does the university encourage you to go on placement? Here at Leeds Beckett, we have our Job Shop who organise hundreds of paid part time jobs for our students each year. We also have a strong focus on placements, which will help you to get real-world work experience.
  • Student experience - Does the university have plenty of opportunities for you to have fun? Can you join societies, clubs and sports teams?
  • Transport and getting home - Regardless of whether you’re choosing a university that’s ten minutes or ten hours away from your home, you need to consider transport links. Here in Leeds, we’re lucky to have a busy train station where you can travel easily to most major cities in the UK. We also have a busy coach station (where you can sometimes bag a trip home for just £1!) and an airport!

This should all give you some food for thought when it comes to making those university decisions. If you do your research, it really doesn’t have to be scary at all.

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