Navigating the minefield that is choosing your uni

Now, you might start to read this and think; it’s written by The University of Surrey, but don’t let that stop you from reading on. Trust that I am not trying to convince you that here is necessarily the right place for you.

This relates to my first point: No matter what anyone else says (be it your mother, grandfather, neighbour or teacher), YOU are the only person who can decide which is the best university for you.

Here are some pointers to help navigate that minefield:

Visit the place and see if you can imagine yourself there – walk around the campus, talk to lecturers and current students, visit the city or place it is in. Travelling there from home will give you an idea of what the journey and distance to University will be like. 

If you can, stay with someone you know currently at University for a night or two – whether it’s a University you’re considering or not, it is the best way to immerse yourself and get a feel for what it will be like to ‘live’ the student life. There are also Summer Schools on offer at some universities so do your research and scour their websites. As they say; ‘Knowledge is power’.

Look at the courses and their content and structure – look at the grades they are asking for, ask questions, use the Facebook pages. I know that Surrey have one for offer-holders where there are regular Q+A’s where students answer questions about anything at all – from student life to sharing a kitchen, to the workload or the sports available at the University.

Aim high, but don’t set extreme expectations for yourself. It is good practise to assess your options and see what each University is asking of you. Some students perform better than they might expect to in their A Levels or equivalent, so sometimes it is worth choosing at least one University with higher entry requirements – you have 5 options so make them all count.         

Opposing this; you should also be realistic with your choices. Talk to your tutors and assess your attainment and what you can strive towards – using target grades as a benchmark. Be safe so that you are not stuck come results day and have to panic and go through clearing to find another option.                                                                                                              When finalising your 5 University choices, give yourself a variety of options so that if you change your mind: between campus or city, or if you’d like to be a flight or short car-ride away, you have the option.

You need to initially decide whether University itself is for you – it is a big investment for you and your family so you must consider it fully. Don’t forget that you can apply to the same University more than once, with different courses if you are undecided on the specifics, but know that you like the University and what they have to offer.

League tables may give a perspective of the University and rough idea of how it is achieving, but don’t just focus on them and compare Universities solely based on statistics – you should consider the whole University; its various aspects, and the experience and outlook you would gain from it.

Most importantly: don’t panic. Choosing University may seem stressful, but it is not meant to be – it should be a new phase of your life – a turning point and place for growth and opportunities; expanding your horizons.

And, if you do feel like Surrey might be the University for you, do not hesitate to get in touch – our lovely staff and students will be more than happy to chat.