Without playing a broken record, choosing which university to go to is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make at this point in your life. Think about it, you’ve got to be happy spending three years living there (potentially more, depending on your degree). So I’ve put together a small list of things to consider for when you make this decision:
- Do you like the set-up? Is it a campus uni or not? What is the accommodation like and how long would your daily commute be? Can you see yourself happily living here?
- What’s important to you and does this place accommodate that? (Sport, Nightlife, Music etc.)
- What’s the area like? Is it a bustling, student orientated city or is it a small campus with not much going on around it? Do you want to be in the thick of it, or have space and peace to relax?
- The course – a course department can differ so much from uni to uni, something I learned when looking round various universities last year. A good way to get to know the department quickly is to both talk to current students, compare the course syllabus and module options for each uni and look online at the reputation and feedback for your chosen department. One really useful website for this is https://unistats.direct.gov.uk/ – this gives you the option to edit your criteria and see feedback from current students
- Too close/ too far? It’s important to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, but at the same time, if you know you’re going to want to go home every weekend, it’s probably not a good idea to go to uni somewhere really far away. For me, this has never been a problem, but I imagine it could be for a lot of people who haven’t been away from home for long periods of time before
As I said in my first post, I’m at Royal Holloway, which is a relatively small campus uni in Egham, Surrey – 40 minutes on the train to central London (there will be a whole post soon all about Royal Holloway).
I decided to go straight from school to uni and skip having a gap year, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t be motivated enough to go back into education after a year off. So I did my UCAS application at school, although we hardly received any help. The five places I chose to apply to were:
- Royal Holloway
- King’s College, London
- St. Andrews
I got offers from all of these universities and my choice was ultimately between Royal Holloway and King’s College. Although King’s is probably more prestigious, I chose Royal Holloway for a number of reasons: it was campus uni and I really liked this set-up (it meant everyone was in one place, everyone around you is also a student, and means my longest commute is about a 10 minute walk!), also from looking on uni stats, the student satisfaction for the Classics department here was so much better. Also a perk (of both these universities, coincidentally) is that as part of the ‘University of London’, if I want to take a module that is offered at another ‘University of London’ uni and not at mine at some point in my degree, I can, as long as there are no clashes with other modules. In the end, my decision was made when Royal Holloway gave me an unconditional offer if I put them as my first choice.
Although I find myself in central London at least once or twice a week, I’m glad I made the choice that I did, because I don’t think living right in the middle of London without vast stretches of greenery and tranquility would have been for me. Also, a lot of my friends who are at uni in London said at the beginning it could be quite lonely, which seems odd for a city crammed with so many people.
But don’t get me wrong, I do find myself (often in an Uber ride home from a night out in London) envying the ease of transport, as well as the endless choice of things to do, places to go, places to eat that London offers.
So, ultimately, if you take one piece of advice from this post, it’s choose somewhere that you can see yourself happily living – 3 years isn’t an unsubstantial amount of time!