Students’ 20 top tips for picking a course

How do you choose the best course for you and the right university?
 How do you choose the best course for you and the right university? Illustration: A. Richard Allen

1 Visit, visit, visit

Olabisi Obamakin, 21, is studying biomedical sciences at St George’s, University of London

“The advice I would give would be to go to the open days and ask plenty of questions about university life, the course and support services. Chat to students for some honest first-hand experience of studying there. It may seem a hassle if your university is far from home, but the train ticket to visit is cheaper than dropping out after one term.”

2 Pay attention to course details

Tazz Gault, 19, is studying multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University

“Make sure your number one course covers modules that are suitable for you – browse through the course outline so you know what to expect. I wish I’d realised that a module title is one thing, but the ‘unit guide’ for each section is really where the information lies. Had I known this, jumping from television and radio to media law modules wouldn’t have been such a surprise.”

3 Interview your tutors (before they interview you)

Dami Omisore, 21, is studying for a degree in real estate management at Kingston University

“Speak to tutors at the open days. I began inquiring about economics and science courses. But when I spoke to the course tutors, they advised me I was a good fit for this degree and as soon as the lecturer started telling me about some of the modules, including property appraisal and valuation, it appealed to me straight away.”

4 Find out more about the lecturers

Tom Critchell, 26, is studying architecture at Birmingham City University

“Whatever you want to study, it’s worthwhile researching the lecturers and unit modules to find out their research interests. And for a design-based course, attend the end-of-year graduation show. You’ll be able to see students’ work, talk to them and get a real understanding of what the pros and cons are of the university.”

5 Pick something you love – and won’t mind getting up with a hangover to learn about

Samuel Day, 19, is studying drama and English literature at the University of East Anglia

“You’ll find that you work harder if you’re passionate about your degree. Joint courses are also great because you get the best out of both subjects.”

6 Learn your ABC: accommodation, buses, countryside

Daniel Graves, 20, is a second-year politics student at Keele University

“It’s important to venture outside the campus: look at the costs of buses, off-campus accommodation, the shops. See if the environment suits your personality. If you’re an outgoing person, look to see if the area has a great nightlife. Or if you are like me, you may like a museum or the countryside. Leicester University was my first choice, but I ended up going to my insurance, Keele. It’s a good idea to think about rents: someone I know at another university is paying £140 a week, while I’m paying £50. Look at the area’s property prices on websites like Zoopla before applying.”

7 Check out the support networks

Hannah Lane is studying nursing at the University of South Wales

“Everyone wants to have an amazing time at university, but when the going gets tough it’s important to have a strong support network around you. I’ve found when you are on a course such as nursing, which is emotionally, mentally and physically draining, you need people around you who you can turn to.”

8 Apply for pre-uni schemes to help you make up your mind

Naazia Hussein, 20, is in her second year of law at Leicester University

“During sixth form I was part of a programme called Realising Opportunities, which pairs you with an e-mentor who is studying a similar subject to the one you want to do. It’s all about targeting children who are the first in their family to attend higher education. After that experience, and attending the Leicester open day and law taster day, I knew it was the right place for me. Talk to people who are doing your potential degree to see whether the course is right for you – a lot of people come to university and are taken aback by the workload and the extent of independent learning.”

9 Check out work experience opportunities

Dieuni Welihinda, 23, is a final-year student of British politics and legislative studies at Hull University

“See if the course or uni offers you any internship or placement opportunities. I was particularly drawn to Hull’s one-year Westminster internship programme, which meant I spent a year working with the shadow education secretary. As a result, I know I want to work in education policy when I graduate.”

10 Campus or town?

Nisita Raghvani, 23, is studying brand leadership at the University of East Anglia

“Consider what kind of environment you want before you make applications – I wanted a campus university because it means I’m at the heart of everything, I can get to my classes in a couple of minutes, and I absolutely love that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *