By Rachel Ibbott
You’ve picked a university, you’ve found some interesting courses - but how do you narrow these down to just 5? Given you’ll be studying it for at least three years, your course should be a significant consideration when choosing a university - see Isabel’s recent post. For example, I knew that I wanted a broad course which allowed me to study the whole spectrum of biology, from ecology to biochemistry, in the first year, and this informed the universities I considered. If you’re planning on studying a subject taught by most universities, the nuances of the course content (and the grades required to get in) might well influence your choices.
There’s no doubt, however, that the university experience is much broader than simply the degree. Universities differ in their location (where in the country is it? Campus or city?) as well as their provision of activities outside of your degree, be that sports, societies or nightlife. Having grown up in London, I decided that I would prefer not to apply to universities in London or other large cities, and this formed the basis of narrowing down my choices. The least important difference is reputation (academic or as to the ‘stereotypical’ student) - you’ll likely find ‘your type’ of person wherever you are. All these factors have different significance to different people, so perhaps the first step towards narrowing down choices is to consider what matters to you, and which you would prioritise.
While it’s undeniably difficult to get a feel of a university without visiting in person, there are a myriad of resources available - check out some student YouTubers, speak to family friends or alumni of your school, and attend some university-run virtual open days and online Q+As.