Choosing a university can be a stressful time in the life of a sixth former. All your mates a yapping about which universities they’re choosing to apply to, your teachers are telling you to consider this university or that university and you have more prospectuses than Willy Wonka has chocolate bars.
One thing you may want to consider when choosing a university is the reputation of the said university. Reputation can come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on your course and career goals, there are different things to consider.
University League Tables
The most notable form of university reputation comes in the form of league tables. Every year, much like the football Premier League, the same universities come out on top. Oxford and Cambridge University trade places at the top, with universities such as King’s College London, Durham University, Warwick University and St. Andrews making up the chasing pack.
So what’s the point of university league tables? Are they useful for the student or do universities just use them for marketing purposes? In all honesty, a bit of both. Of course, universities are going to shout about how well they performed in the league tables, but there’s no smoke without fire – universities are obviously doing something right if they’re ranking well across the board.
However, do remember to take things with a pinch of salt. University league tables are usually calculated from an average from all courses. So whilst the University of Exeter might be killing it for course satisfaction, this is an average score meaning that in theory, the law students could be completely happy with their course (so much so that they even bother with 9am lectures) whereas the history of art students are so dissatisfied they’re considering going on hunger strike.
We’re pretty sure this isn’t the actual case, and the folks at Exeter are obviously doing a great job, but with this in mind, perhaps it’s better to check out the reputation of a course at specific universities, rather than their overall league table reputation.
Checking out the reputation for a course is good practice. Here you can see what previous students made of the course, teaching and feedback and then cross reference that with an overall league table ranking. This will ensure that you’re heading off to study a great course at a university that is also held in high regard.
You might think that deciding to go to a particular university based on league tables and course rankings alone is a little silly. After all, you’re not going to be student machine, in the library every day and an over-the-top academic boffin. Your degree is a big part of the university experience but there’s also the opportunity to get involved with student societies and you might want a sip of some very special lemonade every now and then too.
Want to know how great a university is for nightlife and extra-curricular opportunities? Check out some student satisfaction surveys and results. These will give you a good idea of how students rank all aspects of life at a particular institution. After all, university isn’t just about a good course, it’s three years of your life that you want to thoroughly enjoy!
Having said all of the above, the whole point of going to university is to increase your job prospects. Therefore you should probably check out which universities have a strong percentage of graduates who are employed after six months.
So, now that you’re armed with various ways to narrow down your university options, get searching and applying!