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Finding a university that’s right for you

Finding the right university for you can be tricky, and at this time of year it’s important to assess what kind of place you want to be applying to next year. We can all list some famous institutions, but how do you know they’ll suit you? There are a variety of factors to take into account when finding a university, and it can be a lot to process in a relatively short time before you start applying. Below are a few areas you can focus on when looking for the place that will help you to succeed.

Quality

It might seem obvious but looking for a high quality education is a priority, but how do you guarantee that? Something to keep in mind would be research-based universities, such as the Russell Group in the UK. Universities that focus on research are largely well-funded, and focus on hiring academics at the top of their field that are working on cutting-edge projects. Their work will often involve multiple academics, and there may even be the opportunity for you to assist directly in their research. Academics are very focused on their work, so often studies will be more independent, but a good university will help you find the balance between tutored and independent work.

Location

This is an interesting one, and entirely personal. Universities come in many different shapes and sizes, from campuses in the countryside, to universities whose buildings are broken up through a major city. Think about how close you want to be to a city is a good place to start, and whether you want a campus where you and your friends’ studies will take place in close proximity. When you are finding a university, consider where they are not only in the city or town, but also their location nationally. You will want to go home at some point, so travel connections are important to take into account. Prioritize what you value, then list your options accordingly.

Gut Feeling

This one is a bit more difficult to account for, but it’s one of the most important. It’s a harder point to come to terms with, as it requires you to visit the university before you apply to take a tour and get a feel for the environment. No matter how many lists you make and maps you draw, nothing accounts for the feeling of belonging when standing in the middle of a university campus where you are just meant to be. Luckily, it’s not a one in a million feeling, so you’re likely to find a few universities that feel right, but it can make the difference between two seemingly equal choices. Try to visit the places you think you are sure of before you make your decisions, it can really make a difference.

Prospects

Although it might seem very far away when you’re starting a course that’ll last 3 or more years, graduate employability is a big factor to take into account. All universities have statistics that they’ll show you to suggest that 99% of their graduates are employed in the year following graduation. The key thing to look for should be the quality of that employment. It’s also worth looking at grad schemes, and how well your chosen university’s graduates do in getting into masters programs. It’s a lot to take on board before you’ve even started, but it can go a long way once you’re there.

The easiest way to get started with all of this is to make a list of priorities. Where do you want to be? How independent would you like your studies to be? Answer a few basic questions about yourself and you can go a long way. There’s something out there for everyone, and universities will showcase every statistic they can to encourage you to apply. Review your options, take a few visits, and you can’t go wrong.

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