Caitlin's latest blog - things to think about when choosing a uni

Thursday, July 03, 2014 12:00 AM

Caitlin, one of our student bloggers, provides a light-hearted look at university open days and things to think about when making your decisions.

With the last exam an already fading memory, a rush of adrenaline hits the revenge centre in your brain. So you head out to the far corner of the garden, linked arms overflowing with all your revision notes and a big box of matches, ready to make a sacrifice to the deities of knowledge and wisdom.

 ...only to bring them all back in again, just in case you haven’t done as well as you’d hoped.

One thing you can be sure of is that no matter how hard you search, you will never again find that single piece of paper on which the teacher wrote down in plain English the solution to the problem that has been bugging you for months. You know what? That essential piece of written wisdom has already transmogrified itself into an old sweet wrapper that you threw away when your parents’ patience finally snapped over the ransacked state of your bedroom, and you were handed a compulsory cleaning order.

Right now, there is other work to be done. Choosing a university can seem like a monumental decision. It isn’t just about choosing a course. For many people, it is also about making the decision to move to a different city far away from family and friends.

Most universities host open days during the summer term. I have been to a few of these recently. The whole process seemed akin to speed dating, with some appearing to go out of their way to woo new students with free buses to and around the campus, soft drinks, eco- bags, notepads, post-it notes, pens etc. For others, the approach was far more laissez-faire – “Yeah, download a map from our website if you really want and find your own way around, up to you really.”

It’s difficult to tell if those in the former group are more student friendly, or just plain desperate. Likewise, are the latter just plain lazy or such leading lights of learning that they don’t need to bother because their courses are always massively over-subscribed? 

Whatever your decision, you’ll never be 100% sure you made the correct choice until you’ve been in the thick of it for a few months, but going to open days is a really useful way of checking out things before you apply. Make a list of questions before you set off. If you take along the parents, be prepared for them to have a list of questions that’s five times longer than your own. Nothing to be done about this, just accept it.

Apart from the courses on offer, try and get a feel for the campus. Some universities are located right in the heart of busy city centres (suits some, not others) while others can seemingly only be reached by a water taxi that stops running after 5pm and a hot air balloon that launches every other Monday. If the nearest food mini-market is a ten-mile hike and you have no car, this could be a problem when there’s no milk left for the breakfast Choco-Pops.

I hope I have given you some food for thought. Good luck! 

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