When you’re at that tricky stage of deciding where to go to university, it’s all too tempting to base your decision on the looks, reputation and the party atmosphere of the university.
Really, the most important factor in choosing a university is the course, not the fact that the Students’ Union has 50p drinks on a Wednesday.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH DEGREE TO CHOOSE?
You’ll want to find a course that matches your interests and abilities. A solid interest in the subject is vital, as it’s all you’ll be studying for the next few years (unless you change courses). It should also be a good match for your abilities, as you’ll want to get a good grade.
Your degree choice might also be determined by your career aims. For example, you might want to choose a particular degree so you can pursue a certain career and find a graduate job a particular industry.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some careers have conversion courses, such as the law conversion course, which you can take after you’ve finished your degree, so you don’t necessarily have to study a vocational subject at undergraduate level. Additionally, you’d be surprised at how flexible most subjects are, so don’t feel like an English degree means you have no choice but to be an English teacher.
Otherwise, you might want to choose a degree which, although not mandatory for a career, will put you at an advantage.
CHOOSING BETWEEN UNIVERSITIES
Once you’ve got a sense of the degree subject you’re interested in, you’ll need to scrutinise individual course syllabuses. There might be a particular area of your subject that you’re interested in and other parts that you’re not that fussed about, so you’ll need to find the degree courses with the right focus.
If you’re looking for a course which is more vocational, find out about the placement opportunities on offer and where existing students have done their placements.
Next, look at the teaching: How much time do you spend in lectures? Do you get any tutorial time? How big are the seminars? Find out how the course is assessed. How much of the assessment is from coursework, and how much is through exams? Which assessment method best suits your strengths?
Is your final grade based on your performance in the final year or over three years? Find out if there’s an opportunity to do in-depth independent study and research. Will you get to write a dissertation? How much do you get to work with other people?
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY…
If you’re planning on taking an Erasmus year, you’ll need to check that you can do Erasmus with that course and what existing Erasmus partnerships the department has with other universities.
It’s also worth asking around and seeing if you can find a student who has already done the course so they can give you their insight into it.
Go to open days armed with questions and grill (not literally) an admissions tutor or student about the course.
Alternatively, you can always get in contact with the course leader via email if you have any queries about the course.
Finally, employability is a hot topic and you’ll probably want to get a graduate job after your degree, so always check out the employability rates for the subject and find out from the university what recent graduates did after the course.
Here’s a handy list of links that can help you suss out the career options for different degrees:
Humanities and Social Sciences
What can I do with a psychology degree?
What can I do with a history degree?
What can I do with an english degree?
What can I do with a politics degree?
What can I do with an economics degree?
What can I do with a marketing degree?
What can I do with a business degree?
What can I do with a sociology degree?
What can I do with a law degree?
Arts and Sciences
What can I do with a media degree?
What can I do with a chemistry degree?
What can I do with a maths degree?
What can I do with a bioscience degree?
What can I do with a physics degree?
What can I do with an accounting degree?
What can I do with a sports science degree?
What can I do with a finance degree?
What can I do with a general engineering degree?
What can I do with an electrical engineering degree?
What can I do with a mechanical engineering degree?
What can I do with an aerospace engineering degree?
If you’re also considering doing a sponsored degree, you should check out our other website AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk to find out how you can get a company to pay for your tuition fees!