16 Apr How to choose a uni during lockdown
If you believe university might be the progression route for you, you might be asking yourself how to choose a uni during lockdown? Actually, now is the ideal opportunity to take an open day from home. Using our five Cs process, you’ll be best positioned to select the right university option.
University research can be arduous if not kept structured and organised. Why not sit down and consider what are your most important factors that matter about your university experience.
Whilst it might seem that elements such as the course itself, the contact hours and accommodation should be front and foremost, often more background elements such as location, size and course structure could also be vital when selecting the right uni.
Why not categorise the elements to help establish what’s important:
• Which subject(s) you want to study
• Course structure – is joint honours offered. You could study History and English rather than just History
• Assessment – does your course focus on exams or coursework
• Entry requirements – are you on course for the required grades
• Year abroad options
• Year in Industry options
• Location – close to the sea, the city, what about overseas
• Large or small uni
• City or campus location
• Distance from home
• University league rankings
• Student satisfaction data
• Part-time employment opportunities
• Extracurricular options (sports, arts, debating)
• Quality of accommodation
Once you’ve established your top priorities, why not browse some university websites. For example, if you want to study Physics and sport is a priority as an extra-curricular, head over to the university websites which have both a strong Science department and sports facilities.
Don’t be afraid to get stuck in right away! Due to the vast number of UK universities, at-home open days will involve data collection en masse.
Collecting this information on pages of hand-written scribbles or trying to remember which campus had the nicest accommodation is not going to cut it. It’s time to get official. We suggest you open Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and get compiling that researched info.
Bearing in mind those top priorities, consider the other components that make up a university experience, listed above, and add these to your online spreadsheet.
So, you’ve spent an afternoon (or three!) poured over your laptop screen. Maintaining an open mind has been imperative but now it’s time to start narrowing down your choices. Step back, breathe, and consider. Which universities have stood out so far?
It’s time to go back to those top priorities established at the start. Having researched the many options, are these components still a priority? For example, you might sacrifice the landscaped parkland campus at York because Warwick’s joint honours programme appeals. Or perhaps the idea of a year abroad is something you haven’t considered before but would now like to pursue.
Let’s say your top priorities are: coursework assessment, entry requirements, active drama club, local nightlife, and city location. It may be that there are several similar universities which all seem attractive. How do you narrow down the choices?
Time to compare other elements that might help sway the decision. There are many factors to consider about potential accommodation: shared rooms, en-suites, halls, kitchen type, cost, distance to learning department. You can also look at available travel options to and from home and if there are decent public transport links. Do you know anyone at any of the unis you could ask about the pros and cons – maybe friends’ older siblings or previous school mates.
By now, you should have narrowed down a few potential universities. Perfect! You can apply to up to five unis (or courses) through UCAS in the UK.
Although you may not be able to physically wander around university campuses right now, many do offer virtual tours. These can give you a taste of the ambience and give you the chance to ask if you can imagine themselves there. In fact many universities are currently in the process of organising Virtual Open Days with virtual campus and department tours, live Q&As and current students’ video diaries.
We hope we’ve helped you in your quest to choose a uni during lockdown. If you are stoked up by the idea of your future path, then don’t waste this motivation. Why not start looking into the personal statement process. We’ve got your back covered on this one too with an article coming soon.