How to choose a university

09 December 2019
Students concentrating in the classroom

University is often the next step for many students and there are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to what and where to study. Here is a list of things to think about when first choosing what degree to do, and then finding the right university to study at.

Choosing a degree

How are you supposed to know which subject to study? This can be daunting – a lot of students aren’t sure what degree to take after finishing their A Levels or Foundation. When choosing a degree, it will be helpful to follow these tips:

  1. Explore subjects you enjoy

It’s important to consider which subjects you have enjoyed studying most up to this point. If maths is one of your strengths, you may enjoy doing something involving numeracy skills, such as engineering or computer science. Or if you love art, you might want to explore a subject that uses creativity to shape concepts and ideas, such as design or architecture. At degree level, there is much more variety when it comes to the subjects you can choose and you will study your subject in much more depth than you have during your A Levels or Foundation programme. At Bellerbys, we offer specialist university preparation to help you decide based on what you have enjoyed learning.

  1. Consider a future career

Looking ahead is usually a good way to decide which degree you’d like to study. If you have a future career in mind already, this will probably influence your higher education journey, though you may not know which degree is best for you straight away. A lot of subjects have transferable skills which you can apply to different jobs and industries. Consider your strengths and research subject areas, types of jobs or industries you're interested in. This will help you decide on a degree to help you reach your goal – explore our career guides to discover careers you might be interested in.

  1. Imagine your ideal way of studying

Your chosen method of study is important to consider when choosing your degree. Many degrees involve group study and individual projects as part of the curriculum. Some degrees will be largely exam based, whereas others will focus on practical coursework. Every student is different, and this is why university degrees vary in their approach to teaching and learning. Reflect on what has worked well for you during your time at college and apply your previous experiences to choose a degree that’s right for you.

  1. Think about working opportunities

A university experience is about more than what goes on during lessons. We’ve already mentioned thinking about a career you might enjoy, but even if you’re not totally sure about what your dream job is, getting some first-hand experience is often the best way to discover what you want. It’s worth looking into degrees that have good industry links through work experience and internships, as this often allows students to gain understanding of a specific job role before graduating.

Choosing a university

Once you’ve chosen the degree you’d like to study, you’re halfway there. When it comes down to which university will be best for you, there’s a whole different set of criteria involved. Important things to consider when choosing a school include:

  1. Have a look at subject rankings

Looking at rankings is a good first-step when beginning your application. Universities are ranked on their overall merits, but did you know that there are also subject-specific rankings? For example, a university ranking well for engineering has been assessed on the high quality of teaching and research they provide in the field, range of facilities and experiences offered to students and strong graduate prospects. If you have an area of study in mind, focus on universities that are highly ranked in this subject, and then explore the degree they offer.

  1. Location, location, location

Are you a city dweller, or do you prefer being in the great outdoors? Some universities will have access to both, but it is important to consider that each university has its own unique surroundings. The never-ending debate of campus vs non-campus can only be resolved by you, and which atmosphere you feel most comfortable in. Enjoying your environment will be the key to getting the most out of your time at university, so this is an essential part of choosing where you’d like to continue your education.

  1. Face-to-face impressions are best

Open days are often the best way to get to know a university personally, and if you are able to, we would encourage visiting a campus before applying to study there. Unfortunately, this can be difficult if your favourite universities are all over the country. Luckily, Bellerbys offer an annual University Fair for you to get to know different UK universities. Each year over 60 of the UK’s top universities come to Bellerbys, offering students a chance to meet representatives from the universities in person. This is a great way to discuss applications and progression requirements, and get a sense of which university will be right for you.

  1. Student lifestyle matters

A good university experience can teach you about all aspects of life and allows you to make memories that will last for years to come. That’s why when choosing a university, it is important to consider things from a social perspective. Most universities have a vast range of extra-curricular activities on offer, including sports teams, societies and facilities like student gyms and restaurants, so check these out when making your choice.

Om’s story

A former Bellerbys College student, Om tells us how studying here influenced her university decisions in a positive way. Find out how she chose the right degree and study path for her.