Choosing your five universities
I had determined to study chemistry at university in good time therefore as soon as year 12 ended, I ordered prospectuses from all the universities I could think of. I sat down reading them all one-by-one, making notes, high-lighting, using post-its, with the league tables and Google maps pages open on my laptop.
As a chemistry student, the key factors that I was looking for are bound to be different from somebody else’s considering a different course but I thought I’ll list what I considered in general to help you pick out the main five.
- League tables: this doesn’t mean apply to the first five on the top of the list you find. I picked one from top ten (Warwick), around two from the ranking 11-20 and the other three from the rest. Look at a range of factors. I mainly looked at subject specific league tables.
- Google maps (location): I personally had to apply to universities outside of London because I wanted a flexible course offering industry placements etc (couldn’t find my ideal one in London) but at the same time didn’t want to move too far from home.
- Opportunities for placements in industry/ other experience as part of the course: something offered at Warwick for chemistry. Perhaps consider this since you gain so many skills from such experiences! Make sure you pay attention to the course codes when filling in UCAS. For example, with chemistry I applied for different courses with different universities: F100 (BSc) and F105 (MChem) but they were both chemistry!
- Accreditation by the relevant organisations: Warwick chemistry courses are accredited by the Royal society of Chemistry (RSC). This is particularly important because it confirms that the course meets the following criteria: global outlook, professionalism, informed view, inspirational approach, influence. You can read more about the RSC accreditation criteria here.
- Does your first year count? Or do you only have to pass it?What you prefer is up to you. I liked the thought of my year contributing to my final grade. It gives you that sense of responsibility and motivates you to work hard.
- If it counts (like at Warwick), good! You pay tuition fees for this year, you work hard, it should contribute. You need the content you learn for the following years. It isn’t sufficient to just pass. It is important you understand everything.
- If not, good! You have the year to swallow the turning point in life: a lot of independence in personal as well as academic life. Let it all sink in. Experiment with revision techniques etc but don’t not study because you might find yourself struggling in the following years.
- Requirements: as you might have gathered, this list is in no particular order (hence grades are coming up so late) but really consider the grades required. Choose a wide range so you are prepared for all outcomes. Use your AS level results as a guideline to predict your performance.
- Methods of teaching: look at how you’ll be taught because choosing university is effectively choosing everything to do with education. You decide not only how you want to learn but also how you want to be taught. Lectures, workshops, tutorials, seminars, labs, etc. Read up on what each of these involve and ask yourself if you can imagine yourself enjoying such environments. Different universities and with different courses, there are different teaching styles so make sure you do your research thoroughly!
- Examination process: summative or modular? I am a lover of end-of-year exams. If you are not, consider finding courses that offer modular exams.
- How you feel about the place: visit the universities you have chosen and ask yourself how you feel about the place. It is difficult to write what to think of but just visit the universities and you’ll know if want to be there or not, I promise! You might hear that Warwick is like a bubble and in the middle of nowhere but I am telling you, it is the most wonderful bubble out of all the ones I visited! There might not be much surrounding the campus but the campus is very lively.
- Check out the employability section on the website/ prospectus. For Warwick chemistry, it is here and clearly very impressive in terms of the various destinations of graduates in the past as well as some of the comments that have been left by students regarding the department and how their degree prepared them for their future goals.
These are the ten main ones from me. Consider the above mentioned factors, if applicable. If you have any further questions, comment below!