Ahhh, applying to university. It’s no surprise that the process can be mind boggling - in the UK, we have over 130 universities, each with a huge number of courses to choose from. That equates to a massive number of options for you to debate over. Deciding upon just 5 to apply to, and just 2 to confirm can be pretty daunting.
Below are some of the things that we feel are most important when making your decision.
Choosing your course
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the whole reason that we go to university is to study. When considering universities, can get bogged down thinking about things such as how pretty the university’s buildings are, the cost of a pint in the SU, how often it rains, and so on. Whilst all of these things are important, the course you choose will inevitably be the MOST important part of your time at university - specifically, how much you enjoy it and how well you perform. Here’s what you need to think about when deciding upon that all important course:
Your future career
Do you know what you’d like to do as a career? Perhaps you don’t know the exact role, but you have a rough idea of the industry. If so, it’s a good idea to check the skills needed for those industries, and find a course that will develop them.
Have no idea what you want to do in the future? Don’t worry – loads of people don’t! If this is the case, have a think about what you enjoy learning about, and what you’re good at. If you study a subject which you love, you'll be motivated to learn more about careers in that area during your studies.
More: If you’re really stuck and have no idea what course would suit you, there are plenty of quizzes online that can help. UCAS has a good one – simply search for ‘The Buzz quiz’.
The structure and content of the course should also be a key factor when making your decision. Consider how you like to learn, and check this against the way the course is taught and assessed. For example, think about whether you learn by ‘doing’ rather than studying, or whether you like exams or coursework best.
It’s also a good idea to remember that a course of the same name at two different universities could be structured completely differently. Make sure that you properly research the modules, assessments and the facilities that you will be taught in - for every different university. You can do this by properly exploring the course page on the university's website, watching course videos and reading the prospectus thoroughly.
More: Here at Leeds Beckett, we have a mixture of types of course and types of assessment. You can learn more about the structure of our courses by exploring the course page on our website, and watching the video on that page. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact the course leader.
It’s important to select a course that will give you the practical knowledge and professional skills that will make you desirable to employers once your degree is over. A placement year (sometimes called a sandwich year) is a great opportunity to gain these professional skills. A placement year is where you take a year out of your studies to work full-time in a relevant industry. You'll develop key skills, get great experience for your CV, and make key contacts for your future. When researching your options, take a look into whether a placement year is an option as this could really boost your employability for the future.
More: Here at Leeds Beckett, we're passionate about placement years. We offer free sandwich years with many of our courses. This means that we won't charge you tuition fees for this year (some universities do).
Something which people often overlook is the quality of the teaching staff within the department that they're interested in. Take a look into the tutors in the department, and the research that they produce. Does it seem worthwhile? Does it interest you? Would you like to be a part of that research in the future?
More: Here at Leeds Beckett, our tutors produce world-class research. Take a look to see for yourself.
Choosing a university
Okay, you should now have a good starting point for choosing the perfect course. You now need to decide which institution you'll be taking the course at. Here are some things to consider:
Close to home
Do you want to live somewhere where you can travel home most weekends? Or do you want to get as far away from your home town as possible? This is something that needs to be carefully considered. If you plan on heading home often, the time and expense of a 5 hour train journey will get very annoying, very quickly.
It’s really important that regardless of whether you stay local or go further afield, you consider the transport links to your chosen university. If you decide to study somewhere with great transport, it will be easier to get home, and cheaper too.
More: Here in Leeds, we’re extremely well connected. We’re just over 2 hours away from London, and under an hour away from Manchester via train. We also have our own coach station, where you can hop on a coach and travel all over the country for bargain prices.
As a student, it's important that take lots of time for yourself, to relax. When considering a university take a look into the recreational activities in the area. Will you be able to maintain your current hobby, or taking up new ones? These extra activities will be a great way to make friends and de-stress after a long day of lectures.
More: A good place to begin your research into recreational activities at a university is to look at the societies that you can join. Here at Leeds Beckett, we have loads of exciting societies – we even have a Harry Potter one! Take a look here to see them all.
Okay, hopefully this information has helped you to produce a shortlist of courses and universities which you’re interested in. Don't forget to visit as many as possible, and explore both the campus AND the local area.
If you want to know more about Leeds Beckett life from the prospective of our students and staff, take a look here.
Good luck with your application.