Choosing a University: Survival Guide

Choosing a university can be daunting, even if you’ve had siblings go through it. Every University is different, it’s a place where you’ll build yourself, gain independence, become a little too familiar with your alcohol limits and (hopefully) set a firm foundation for your future. If you choose to live away from home like the majority, you’ll live with friends who are likely to become friends for life. Quite a lot of people have no idea where to start when it comes to choosing a University or Universities that they should consider so this outlines few factors that you might want to take into consideration when looking at which one would be best for you.


First things first; the course. Most people would agree that this is one of the most important things about deciding on where to study. Using the UCAS website course finder you and take a look at the sort of courses you’re likely to find interesting. For example, if you wanted to study maths it would be a good idea to start working out roughly but realistically what grades you’re likely to achieve at A Level, search for maths degrees using their search tool and filter out some universities. Get an idea about the sort of content included on the courses and what you’d find interesting. When looking for a course, make sure you’ve got a passion for it. You’ll be spending 3 (or more) years studying it intensely and if it’s of no interest you’re really going to struggle. Also consider the course size and teaching/assessment methods – if you like smaller group teaching with essay based assessment, don’t choose a huge course with exam style assessment!

UCAS Search Tool

Another factor to look at is the location of the University and their grounds. How far do you want to be from home? It’s all well and good wanting to be 5 hours drive from home but it will limit the number times you can go home or have parents visit for a day. When looking at Uni’s I didn’t want to be more than 3 hours from home so create a rough 3 hour radius limit around home which narrowed down the number of Uni’s I could look at. The University grounds are also important – do you like the feel of it, can you ‘picture’ yourself here? Would you prefer a campus Uni with everything all in one place, or would you rather a City university spread out slightly more.


Aside from the course, are there other things the particular University can offer you such as sports clubs? For me, sport is a big part of my life and therefore having decent sporting facilities and training spaces was an important factor. If you’re an aspiring musician then are there adequate societies/orchestras for you? Although you’re at Uni to study, there is plenty of time to socialise.

BUCS (British University/College Sport) Cross Country Championships 2016

University accommodation, especially in first year, is something you might want to consider. Are the halls situated a convenient distance from the University? Are there en-suites/shared bathrooms, self-catered or catered? It’s a good idea to have in mind what type of accommodation you’d like. In first year I was self-catered with an en-suite (I wouldn’t have minded a shared bathroom though) and it was perfect. Make sure you’d feel happy living there – it will become your home for a significant proportion of the year! Also have a look at the prices – unfortunately it can be expensive and different types can range in price.  From second year onwards people tend to rent houses in the local town with friends which is a fun but scary experience.

Not quite my average post, but last night was quite a milestone in my uni life😂 It's only taken 376 days of university to make it 'out out' to Broad Street🎉🎊 (the main clubbing street in Birmingham) and not even that…but I went to 2 clubs🙈🎉 . Fancy dress theme was Peter Pan and this was my attempt at 'Tiger Lily' whilst @lydhallam rocked the 'Lost Boy'🙌🎊 . This was also a 110% sober night out and I will happily say I had a fantastic time. I'm told quite often that going out sober is the worst thing ever but quite frankly it's not. Don't get roped ino drinking if you don't want to…I can assure you it'll still be a great night (without the added hangover!) . . . . . . . . . . . #food#foodporn#leanin15#foodie#hbloggers##fit#fitness#balance#iifym#athlete#healthylifestyle#health#healthy#runner#l4l#recovery#fuel#bbg#clubbing#model#fancydress#uni#club#nightout#wildnight#hot#love#goals#team#peterpan

A post shared by Beth Heddle🏃🕇📸 🇬🇧 (@beth_heddle) on

BOOK AN OPEN DAY! This definitely was the one of the deciding factors for me. I visited 4, applied to 3 of them and 1 other. It’s so different to see the University in person that read about it in a prospectus! Speaking to people actually studying at the Uni is also very important. As much as the Uni open day is helpful, you may not quite gauge what student life is actually like (after all they are trying to ‘sell’ the Uni to you).


My final piece of advice is don’t be scared or worried about it. Speak to friends that have been to different Universities and find out what they liked/disliked about it. Whatever University you end up at will give you a new experience. You’ll gain independence and if you’re struggling there is always someone there to help. University so far has been the best years of my life and I think part of the reason for that is how much I love the University of Birmingham itself.

Follow me on Instagram for an insight into University life. For a ‘Vlog’ of a ‘Day in the Life’ at the University of Birmingham, please head over to my youtube channel!

Feel free to drop me any questions! Hope this helps with your search for a Uni!!


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