Path to University: 5 things you should know before choosing a university course
Before you start tearing your hair out, Which? University’s Rebecca Hughes is on hand with some expert advice…
Picking a uni course is a big decision, even if you know which subject you want to study. Here are some things to bear in mind before making your final choice:
1. Course content can vary widely between unis
First things first – the content of a course can differ considerably from one university to the next. It’s a good idea to dig into the detail of the course information and think about the subject areas you’re really keen to study.
And it’s not just the course content you’ll need to delve into – be sure to check the type of course too. There are loads of them out there!
For instance, do you want to study a vocational course with lots of hands-on learning and work placements? Or are you after a more traditional, theoretical course? Do your research.
2. …And there are different learning and assessment styles, too!
There can be big differences across university courses in things like scheduled teaching hours (lectures and seminars), the amount of independent study you’re expected to do and types of assessment (exams, lab practicals, coursework etc.).
Bear your preferences in mind when looking at courses. If you perform best in exams, opt for an exam-heavy course. If you work best studying in small groups, look out for courses with more teaching time.
3. There’s a diverse mix of university locations on offer
When you’re choosing a course, you need to ask yourself if the university is based somewhere you can imagine yourself living for the next few years.
The UK has universities all over the country – across cities, towns and countryside – so there’s bound to be a place to suit you.
Got your sights set on a buzzing city? You could consider unis in London or Manchester. Or if you’d you rather be walking distance from the beach, there’s Bournemouth or Brighton – and many more! Where you live will make a big difference to your day-to-day life and studies, so make sure you research the local area.
4. Not all universities will offer the course you’re interested in
If you’re set on studying a niche or more unusual course, you might find that it’s only offered at a handful of universities.
For instance, there are only seven UK universities which offer veterinary science, and just three with an orthoptics course. This narrows down your options from the offset. Then again, for a popular subject area like business, you’ll have more than 170 universities to choose from…
5. League tables can only tell you so much
Checking out the university league tables is a well-established ritual when it comes to choosing a university or a course. While they can be useful, the rankings don’t always tell you the full story.
For example, Falmouth University and the University of Sunderland are well-known among employers for producing high achieving graduates in Journalism and Animation, but the league tables don’t really reflect that. To get the full picture, use league table rankings as just one source of information when researching courses.
Which? University is a new free website designed to help students pick the right UK university or college for them. It offers a comprehensive search of over 30,000 courses and 280 universities. It’s packed with advice from careers advisers, admissions tutors and students.
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