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Help Me Choose a University!

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Remember, your degree or A-level choice does not determine your life or your future career. Of course, certain careers require specific qualifications and these tend to be sciences based e.g. Medicine. However, unless you’re sure this is the field for you, consider subjects you’ll enjoy as this increases your chance of a good qualification, and a happy time at university/college.

No perfect life long choice
You won’t know if you’ll love a course or a place, until you’re there doing it. All you can do is make the best choice with the information available to you at the time. If it doesn’t work out – you are not doomed. There are always options to change course/institution and you can always study other courses later in life. Know this is not a lifelong commitment so relax.

Quality not quantity of information
You will probably find there is too much information out there and that it’s not all useful. Don’t rely on any one source - use at least 2-3 different ones but no more than 7 as otherwise you’ll go crazy. Gut instinct will play a part in your decision – this is normal!

Select course subjects then institution…
Begin by asking yourself what courses you don’t want to do. Then split the others in to ‘Maybe’ and ‘Definitely Interested’.

Consider if you want to do a career that requires a specific qualification – medicine, dentistry etc. If you are doing A Levels, ensure you pick subjects that keep these options open to you i.e. Science & Maths A levels. However, if you think you want to do Medicine but hate Chemistry then re-consider your career choice. Remember, there are lots of very different jobs within the same field – you don’t have to be a doctor to be in Medicine.

Subjects you enjoy which keep your options open
If you have no idea what you want to do in the future – don’t worry! Pick subjects you enjoy that also keep our options open. For Higher Education (HE), consider combined degree subjects e.g. English & Journalism or a modular course that lets you specialise later.

Course content
Consider what combination of exams, practicals or coursework suits you. Do you prefer coursework throughout the year or one big exam?
And don’t assume that a similar subject title means the courses are similar too. Specialised options, course activities and emphasis will vary. Again, you can’t predict the perfect choice but be aware of differences.

Which University
City or campus university? Home or away? This will be a very personal choice and your financial situation may have some influence on your decision. Cheaper to live at home but will you miss out on a huge part of the experience of being at university? Remember, most of your fellow students will be in the same position, and financial awareness will be a part of everyone’s life. Your choice may be partly determined by your grades. Again, this won’t determine your future but don’t underestimate yourself. If you have a chance of getting A* and A at A-level, why not apply to Oxford or Cambridge? If you attend a school that does not traditionally send pupils to top tier uni’s, if it sends them at at, then the grade requirement may be lower. Look on university websites and/or give them a call.

WHAT NOT TO DO
1. Study a subject to please your parents: It’s hard to resist parents but obeying is not the same as respecting them. They’ll recover if you’re doing well in your chosen subject.
2. Choose the same place/course to stay close to friends: You can still stay in touch and you will make new friends.
3. Choose in a panic: Take your time and if it’s getting too much, consider a year out.
4. Underestimate yourself: With 5 options on your UCAS form, make sure you aim as high as you can as well as having ‘safe’ options

GOOD SOURCES FOR MORE INFO
1. UCAS website
2. Careers service – at school or in your area
3. Older friends/siblings or your school’s alumni who’ve been through it
4. Open days - question staff & students
5. www.getsmaart.com – don’t forget our website which has lots of very useful information and links!!

Student Advice: 

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