How to Find the Right University for You

The University hunt has begun, and you find yourself receiving tips, guidance, instructions, dos/don'ts from every direction. There's a lot of information to digest and a lot of research to do, but you may find yourself feeling a bit worried, confused or lost. Don't fear, the University process may seem like a minefield, but you can get through it!


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    First of all, you want to consider whether or not University is the right path for you. It's much more expensive to go to Uni now than it was a few years ago after tuition fees rocketed up in price, so you need to be sure you are making the right decision. Discuss it with your parents, teachers or a career advisor to gain extra help with your choice. Plus, if you already know which career path you want to take, do some Internet research into the qualifications you will need. After all, you may find that your dream job does not require a degree.
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    Next, take some time to consider which course or subject you would like to study. Choose something you are passionate about. It does not have to be a specific decision right away - after all, with some Universities, you can study courses which you may never have even heard of before. For instance, if you love Science, think of that as your first branch. Once you begin to look at which University you want to go to, you are sure to find many courses related to the topic you are interested in within a certain field. E.g. within Science, you may find Biophysics courses, Biochemistry courses etc.
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    Now you want to think about WHICH university is best for you. The best way I have found from my experience is to consider your predicted grades for your exams or calculate your UCAS points (to do this, use the UCAS points tariff at: The next best step is to check out University league tables. These tables will tell you where a University has ranked nationally with regard to a specific course or subject, the satisfaction rates of the students studying this course, and how many points you need to be accepted on that course. The best one used by most is The Guardian's University Guide at When looking at this table, narrow it down by researching the Universities requiring roughly the same amount of UCAS points you are likely to achieve. For example, if you were applying to study Maths and was predicted to achieve 450 points, consider looking at Leeds, which requires 450 points, or Sheffield, 448 points. Other league tables or guides you could look at are The Times University Guide: (for which you will require login details), and The Telegraph Uni Guide:
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    Right, you have a list of Unis. Now have a look on their websites and the courses they offer you. Look at the course content. What will you be doing on your course? What will you need? How will you been examined? Does this course offer you any other opportunities, such as a work experience placement or a chance to study abroad for a year? Does this University offer you a more specific course which suits your interests which you might prefer to study? Make sure you really look, don't skim read. Write down some notes if you need to.
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    Have a look at the University itself on the website. What is the campus like? What is student life like at this Uni? What is the accommodation like? How much does accommodation cost?
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    When you have narrowed your list down, write down the ones you have chosen. Jot down the course name, the entry requirements, the distance from home (if that's a factor in your decision), and when the open days are. Decorate it if you like and stick it on your wall. This will allow you to give your choices some thought, take your time and consider every aspect of your decision.
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    Order prospectuses and book open days for your chosen schools. This will make a huge difference in which path you choose to take. It's all very well if the University looks great on the website, but you need to actually see the place first just in case you find it isn't what you thought it would be. This will help you get a feel for the Uni, think about if you can imagine yourself being there, walking around the campus with your mates. Talk to the tutors, see what they're like and consider that they might be teaching you for the next few years. Ask questions and make notes while you're there if you want to.
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    Once you've visited the Universities you should have a feel for which one/s you like the most. If not, that's perfectly fine! You still have time to make a decision, don't rush into anything because you feel like you have to. A suggestion would be to make a list of pro's and con's if this helps you in your decision.


  • Keep calm. Finding a University can be a stressful process, but you will get through it. Trust me, I've been there! And I'm now in my second year of University and absolutely loving it. Never be afraid to ask for help and advice from your parents, teachers or careers centre.
  • Have a look at The Complete University Guide with further tips and advice on making your decision.
  • Go to as many open days as possible, even the ones you aren't fully interested in. You may find that the one you weren't so keen on to start with end up being the one you eventually go to. Keep an open mind, think of questions before hand and ask as many as possible.
  • If you change your mind, and decide Uni is not for you, then that's ok! So many teenagers feel pressured into going to University because they feel that if they don't, they have nothing else to do. We are constantly being told by the media and society that if you want to get a good job, you have to go to Uni. Well, no. Not necessarily. Getting into Uni is a great achievement, but it's the hard work which will get you places. And hard work isn't something restricted to University. Hard work can come in all walks of life, whether you're doing an Apprenticeship, work placement or internship. Put in your best in whatever you choose to do and you'll achieve great things.

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Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education