Upcoming Offer-holder days: how do you choose which University is right for you?
With Offer-holder days happening in the coming months, it’s important to start thinking about what you’re going to be looking for during these days, and how you’re going to compare the different Universities you may be looking at in order to conclude which one is the best choice for you. I think I went to around 10 Universities up and down the country trying to find which one would be best for me; making your final decision is undoubtedly no easy task, especially if you’re overthinking the decision like I did. But, it definitely isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, as the decision you come to could determine where you’ll be living for the next 3/4 years of your life. So, I thought I’d fill you in on my tips of what to look for on an Open Day or Offer-holder day, how you could go about choosing the University you want to go to, and why I ended up choosing Warwick.
1. How far away from home do you want to go? Do you want to be able to pop home on the weekends regularly? This is definitely something to consider, and it really depends on you personally and what you’re comfortable with. For me, I was eager to move fairly far away to push myself out of my comfort zone, and the distance from home was never really a factor that I considered, so I was happy moving the 4/5 hours away from home. But, if you think you’re going to have a more positive University experience if you’re a little closer to home and will be wanting to come home on the weekends from time to time, then how far away the University is from your home is most definitely something to keep in mind.
2. Do you want a campus or city university? This is primarily down to personal preference. I personally quite liked the idea of the ‘campus bubble’ where everything is right on your doorstep and it’s like living in a little town full on students. Coming from a slightly smaller city, also, meant I was a bit intimidated by the idea of moving to a much bigger city than I was used to, so a campus university was what I decided would work the best for me.
3. League Tables. Naturally, the Universities reputation and its place in the League Tables is something to consider. Warwick, for instance, is currently 9th on the Guardian University League table for 2020 out of 121 Universities, and is 5th for Politics; the high place of Warwick on many of the League Tables was undoubtedly one of the factors that swayed me towards choosing it. Although a University being a single place above another on one of the League Tables is certainly not a basis for a decision, they do give you a general feeling for how each of the Universities is doing. You can also look at important statistics such as those on student satisfaction and graduate prospects, which can be helpful in aiding your decision. Additionally, you could also consider whether it is important to you whether or not a University is in the Russel Group.
4. The course content. This is not something to be overlooked. It is essential to research what is included within your course at each University, as this can often vary considerably from one University to another. So, if there’s an area you feel particularly passionate about or are incredibly interested in, ensuring that this is included within your course, or is available to you within the different modules, is imperative.
5. How much choice you get over your modules. This was really important for me, as I wanted to be able to have the flexibility to pick the topics that interested me the most. Of course, there has to be core compulsory modules in any course, but it’s a good idea to look into how much choice you will get over your other modules. At Warwick, I was able to choose 25% in my First year, and 75% in both my Second and Third year, which was something I really appreciated, and has meant I have been able to tailor my degree to my interests and the skillset I want to obtain by the end of my degree.
6. How do you like to be assessed? This is indisputably a factor you should consider. Do you perform better in exams or in assessed essays/coursework? You want to do the best that you can do, so it’s great to look at whether you’ll be assessed in a way that will enable this. For me, I’ve been so appreciative of the amount of choice I’ve had at Warwick, being able to choose in loads of the modules I’ve taken over the past few years. Personally, I find that I perform better in exams, so being able to choose some of my modules to be assessed through 100% exams has really worked for me.
7. Entry requirements/the offer that you’ve been given. It’s undoubtedly important to consider which requirements and offers are obtainable or are realistic for you and to counter this into your decision. Personally, although I’d always want to push myself and aim high,I wouldn’t have wanted to have both a ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ choice with requirements I thought I could never possibly reach as this would just put far too much unnecessary pressure on myself. There’s nothing wrong with, however, having a slightly aspirational ‘firm’ choice and a more realistic ‘insurance’ choice that you can fall back on.
8. Financial Support. If you think that you will be needing extra funding or financial support during your time at University, its a good idea to look at what each University offers.
9. Price of living. If you’re thinking about how you’re going to budget for everything whilst at University, its vital to look into the general price of living at each University. You should research the accommodation prices you may be facing throughout all of your time at each University, from the initial University accommodation to the accommodation you may be looking at in the local area in your following years. Additionally, you could also take into consideration the transport/bus prices you might also be facing if you are going to need to be travelling between where you’re living and the University itself.
10. The sort of people that go there. Can you see yourself fitting in? Do you like the sort of environment it is? This is a great point to consider. All Universities, however, do have thousands of students who will all really vary and certainly can’t be bracketed into a single type of person. I’d say no matter what University you end up at, you’re likely to find people you click with or who are similar to you, as there is just an endless amount of other students you can meet. Offer-holder days and Open days are a great indicator of this, but you definitely shouldn’t make a judgement off of a few people you meet on one of these days.
11. The actual University itself. Comparing different parts of the Universities is a great way to aid your decision; from the Student Union and the accommodation, to the Library and your department buildings, there’s no shortage of things you can compare and decide what you do and don’t like from each University. The accommodation available and the Student Union, in particular, can have quite a big impact on your University experience.
12. Sports & societies. If you’re particularly passionate about an area, such as Human rights or a charity perhaps, or you belong to a particular community, it’s a great idea to check that the University has societies available that you would be able to join if you wish. Similarly, if there’s a sport you want to continue whilst at University, you should definitely check what is offered at the University, as well as comparing the different sports facilities that each has.
13. The actual feel of the University. This is not to be overlooked. Sometimes you just get a good, warm, feeling about a University and sometimes this can tell you everything you need to know. For me, this was one of the main things that led me to choose Warwick, and I would really recommend just trusting your instincts about a place. Above everything, if you get the feeling that you would be really happy at the University you’re visiting, then it’s unlikely to ever be a bad choice.
I hope I’ve managed to provide some guidance and advice regarding how to approach the upcoming offer-holder days, and how to start to make your decision on which University you want to go to. Please feel free to comment below or message me if you have any questions at all!