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40 questions to help you choose the right Higher Education course for you

It’s getting to that time where some of you will be starting to think about your Higher Education choices and with over 50,000 courses to choose from in the UK, it can be difficult to know where to start!

Over the past few weeks I have been helping some students research different courses and a question I get asked a lot is, “How did you choose what you wanted to study at university?” Some people’s UCAS application process is relatively straightforward, but for others it can be very stressful and overwhelming. Unfortunately, mine was the latter! I remember changing my personal statement about five times because I couldn’t decide which subject to study and if you find yourself doing the same, that’s pretty normal! As most undergraduate degrees take three years to complete, this is a big commitment so you want to commit to a course that will be a good fit for you.

Here is a list of 40 questions to consider to hopefully help you narrow down your choices and make an informed choice. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answers; all that matters is what’s best for you!

Location

  • Would you rather live at home and commute, or move to a new town or city, possibly far away from home?
  • Do you want to live at university but be close enough to home to visit on weekends?
  • Do you want to study in a big city or somewhere more rural?
  • Which region of the country would you like to study in?
  • Have you ever visited any cities which you could see yourself living/studying in?
  • When visiting prospective university cities/towns, could you see yourself living/studying there for around three years?
  • Drivers: how much will it cost you in petrol to travel to your chosen university?
  • How much do train/bus tickets cost to get to and from your chosen university?
  • If catching a train/bus, will you have to change at any stations?
  • What things are there to do in this city/town? E.g. tourist attractions, beaches, nightlife
  • What are the average living costs for the town/city?
  • Will there be opportunities for nearby part-time employment during your studies?

Course

  • Do you want to study a subject you’re currently studying or study something completely new?
  • Do you need to study a certain course to get into the job that you want?
  • Do you want to study single or combined subject?
  • What are the courses grade entry requirements and are they realistic for you?
  • Does the course have any extra entry requirements? E.g. interviews, DBS check, relevant experience, etc.
  • What type of undergraduate course would you like to study? E.g. BA, BSc, Higher/Degree Apprenticeship, Higher National Certificate, etc.
  • What modules does the course have and do they sound interesting to you?
  • Are there any course benefits? E.g. opportunity for placements, option for a year abroad
  • Is the course accredited by any professional bodies?
  • How long does it take to complete the course?
  • What is the student satisfaction rate of this course?
  • Where does the course appear on the university league tables?
  • How much are the annual tuition fees for this course?
  • What support will you get on the course? E.g. will you be assigned a tutor?

Institution

  • Would you rather study at a university or higher education provider?
  • Do you want to study at a Russell Group institution?
  • Is the university a collegiate university?
  • Is this a campus university where all the buildings are grouped together, or a city university where everything is spread across a wide area?
  • Is this a research intensive university, and is that something that matters to you?
  • How many students does this institution have?
  • Would you rather study in a newly built and modern institution, or one that is historic and has been around for hundreds of years?
  • What facilities does the institution have? E.g. library, sports centre, places to eat
  • How far is the university/HE provider from a town/city centre?
  • Are there any notable alumni from this institution?
  • Does the institution have any scholarships/bursaries which you would be eligible for?
  • What societies does the institution have?
  • Are there any sports teams which you can join?
  • Are there places to celebrate your faith on or nearby the campus?

I hope these questions have at least given you an idea on where to start your search. Remember, you don’t have to consider every single one of these, just the ones which are important to you. Good luck!

Amy Burton, Higher Education Progression Officer at Minsthorpe Community College

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