Next stop: University!
As the university offers roll in, it’s time to make final choices, so you may be feeling a little stressed! It’s time to make that big decision, and if you’ve been given more than one university offer (well done!) it can be hard to know what to do next. There’s no simple answer or formula, but, before you begin accepting or rejecting offers, read through our tips which help make the process easier and aids you when making your final decisions.
Before we begin, we have to consider the possibility that you didn’t receive the offers you were hoping for. Whilst it might be a little disappointing, calm down, this is NOT the end of the world!
There are several things you can do if you haven’t received the choices you wanted, or if you haven’t received any at all.
Firstly, review your offers carefully. It’s always a good idea to take another look at your original applications and check the course outlines to see if there are any updates or late changes.
Secondly, ask your University Guidance Counselor to help you get in touch with any universities you were hoping to receive offers from to find out if there is anything extra you can do or any additional applications you can make for slightly different courses.
So, you have an offer? These 7 tips are here to help:
Unless you are 100% sure about what you would like to study at university and have absolutely no doubt about where you would like to be, then it’s best to weigh up your options.
- “But this university is ranked higher than this one”
It’s very easy to assume that because one university is ranked higher than another that that university must automatically be better. This is not always the case. Sometimes a university will score very highly in a particular field, but lower in another. It’s important to read up on the individual courses, and compare across universities this way.
- “What’s the difference between course A and B when they sound the same?!”
Often, universities will have similarly named courses. It is necessary to read the course outline thoroughly and check for slight differences. Some courses may have specific modules that are not in a broader course offered by a different university.
- “I never want to do exams again!”
One of the great things about university is that exams are not the only form of major assessment. Some courses are structured with course content being examined at the end, whilst others may have on-going assessments, without an exam. Play to your strengths at university. If you know that you don’t do well under exam stress and pressure, perhaps a course assessed by portfolio work or a practical might be more suitable for you.
- “My brother’s girlfriend’s sister went there and said the teachers were useless!”
It’s always good to have feedback from other people. Sometimes a university will try and sell itself to prospective students without being entirely honest. A current or past student might have a deeper insight into how the learning and teaching process is currently fairing. Remember though, not everyone will have the same opinions, so make sure it is still YOUR decision as you will be the one undertaking the course.
- “I’m nervous about leaving home”
It’s perfectly normal to be anxious about moving away from family and friends after secondary school finishes. Some people are ready for a change whilst others need a little more time. If moving away is something that really does worry you, you might need to consider universities that are closer to what you’re comfortable with. If a new foreign city, with different smells and sounds is NOT something that you’re ready for, perhaps look at universities that are closer to home. On the other hand, you might be waiting to discover something new, and the prospect of studying away from home could be your opportunity.
- “Which should be my first and second choices?”
Pay attention to the system and country you are considering, for example, via the UK’s UCAS system you will be required to confirm your first and your second choices. You should bear in mind your predicted grades and measure this against the conditions of the offers received. Your second choice can be your “safety net”.
- “I’ve been on holiday there, so I know what it’s like”
Going on holiday to a city and actually living can be a very different thing. Often on a holiday, you have been with your parents and you wouldn’t have had to think about small things such as transport and food costs. As a student however, these small things become big things. It’s very important to factor in just how expensive certain cities are to live in long term. You may have also visited the city during a particular season. For example, if you went to another country during the summer, it might have been nice for those two weeks, but a lot of the time the weather can be different. Is this something that would affect your time at university?
It’s very important that you give careful thought to the choices that you are making. Take some time, do your research, gather the opinions of others but the final decision really needs to be yours. Remember you will be the one doing the course so you need to be happy with it.
Alternatively, not everyone goes to university their first year out of high school. Perhaps this is a good time for you to take a gap year and, for example, work or intern somewhere in order to gain some experience which would then make you more attractive to a university of your choice. You never know, this may lead you to rethink your choice of courses and what you actually want to do.