By Isabelle Summers
Year 13: A stressful time, intensified by the ongoing current events, even for the most organised of students. Beginning the last year of sixth form means you won’t only face higher academic demands from your A-Level courses and a constant stream of homework, but you will also have to embark on the most daunting task you are likely to have encountered thus far – applying to university.
Though the prospect seems scary at first, upon breaking the task down into smaller chunks it begins to seem much more manageable. There is still one major hurdle, though. Which universities should you actually apply to?
Well, once you have decided upon your university course (if you need help doing this, I recommend reading other articles here: https://www.thatoxfordgirl.com/post/2019/07/09/picking-a-subject or https://www.thatoxfordgirl.com/post/how-to-pick-a-course ), it can seem overwhelming to then settle on where you would like to study this subject for the next 3 or 4 years of your life. Remember – you have five choices on your UCAS application, so don’t feel as though there is absolutely no flexibility when it comes to choosing where to apply. You actually ‘decide’ on your university when you select your firm and your insurances choices.
Top Tips for Picking a Uni
1. Try using comparison websites such as Unifrog, WhatUni, or Unicompare.
a. These websites can explore a variety of factors such as location, UK or global ranking for both the uni as a whole & for your department, average living costs, and facilities available to you as a student.
b. Exploring these pages can be useful in deciding what is important in a university for you. If it is location, for example, then Unifrog has a feature where you can filter all universities outside of, say, a 50 mile radius from your home.
2. Ignore the opinions of others – do what feels right for YOU.
a. Do not give into the pressure of parents, teachers, or league tables if you do not think that the university in question will not suit you. It is not your head of sixth form, your mum, or your brother who will be studying there – it is you! Though listening to others can prove to be useful in narrowing down where you are looking to apply or in gaining an alternative perspective, ultimately if a university does not seem as though it will be a good fit for you, do not feel pressured or forced to apply to somewhere.
3. Look at the student satisfaction for your course.
a. Are the students already there satisfied with the teaching quality, the marking of their essays, and the social life? If not, it could be a red flag – but don’t wholly rely on these statistics. Try looking at vlogs on YouTube from students at this university, or open a thread on The Student Room to see if other students also have the same opinions.
4. If you really like the look of a university but it feels too ambitious – consider still applying!
a. I would follow the formula of having 1 “ambitious”, 2 “solid”, and 2 “safe” choices on UCAS. It is important to ensure not all of your options are much higher than your predicted grades, however it is good to have one ambitious option to reach for. You never know, you might get in!
Good luck with your future university application!