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University Decision Time Series: Making Firm and Insurance Choices
In my previous blog in the ‘University Decision Time Series’, I explained what ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ choices are in relation to University offers.
Making these decisions can be tough. I can say this from my own personal experience as I faced a dilemma when I was deciding which university I wanted to put as my firm choice. There are a number of factors that you could have in-mind, which acts as a checklist or considerations that can help develop your knowledge about the course/university that you have an offer from.
In this blog, I wanted to give some further insight into how you can go about making these decisions.
- Course information
This is the natural place to start and refresh yourself of the page you probably visited months ago when scouting for which universities to apply to. Looking at the course itself and its structure, modules, requirements and other information is important. So, ask yourself:
- How does the content of the course (e.g. modules) compare?
- What extra opportunities are there with your course? (e.g. year abroad, year in industry, integrated masters etc)
- What about bursaries, scholarships, funding/fees information?
- How will you be assessed?
These are just a few of many sorts of questions you could ask yourself to bear in mind. Importantly, how does this compare with other courses at other universities?
When I was considering PPE as a course, I saw that Warwick was a lot more flexible in terms of allowing us to pick modules and pathways than other universities.
2. University Website
Zoom out from your course to consider reviewing the wider university web-pages and departmental information. This can help you identify any recent updates (e.g. expansion of study spaces and facilities) that will be important in your decision making. There’s usually a lot of important information on many topics ranging from information associated on accommodation to facilities/services offered to students.
3. Offer Holder Days
Given the Covid-19 pandemic, you probably won’t have the chance to visit campuses. However, Universities will inevitably host something virtually for you. I attended the University of Warwick offer holder day (in-person) and this helped with my decision making. It’s like an extended open day, but much more informative. This is because you have the benefit of the knowledge that you have an offer. So, you’ll be looking more specifically at certain things. Moreover, as you have an offer, your day will be more focussed on the course itself. So, you will have briefings from the heads of department/course on what this entails, including opportunities to interact with students and perhaps participate in taster sessions too. Make the most of this opportunity. Ask a lot of questions. The more you immerse yourself, the more you’ll get out of this day and it can potentially help with your decision making.
4. Speak to students
Whether this is a part of the offer holder day or not, make the most of the opportunities that you get to speak with university students. They can provide a very insightful account of their experiences of being at university. They can easily relate to you as they were in your position just a few years ago.
This platform is great for Warwick offer holders. You can get in touch with bloggers as well as read blogs on many different topics.
6. ‘Wider factors’
What other things, other than about the course, matter to you?
- Location (how far away from home is it or certain areas?)
- Campus vs no campus (‘city’ University)
- Accommodation (choices?)
- Social factors
…. and much more
7. Speak to your Teachers/Friends/Family
This sounds obvious. However, my teachers provided invaluable insight and support when I was making my decision. I am in the first generation of my family to go to University, so this was a new experience for everyone.
The advantages that teachers have are two-fold. Firstly, your head of sixth form/college (or other similar positions) are likely to have a wealth of experience and knowledge on this matter in supporting students and about universities. Indeed, they may still have connections with individuals at your prospective universities, including recent alumni from your school/college, that they can put you in touch with. Secondly, some of the more younger teachers have been through this process recently too and again have a lot of friends that probably went to the universities you’re planning on attending. This insight can really help.
This was a very short blog but I hope that some of these factors are helpful in your decision making. Remember, this list isn’t exhaustive. Have a read of some other blogs on OurWarwick on this matter. In addition, there are many online forums and discussion pages with long lists of resources you can use in helping you to make your decision.
All the best!