UMASS Blog

How I chose my course and university

prospectusHello again!

So, with January exams/mocks well behind us, we can now press on forward to… Deciding what and where to study at University! If you’re in year 13, I imagine you’ll have submitted your UCAS form, attended your interviews and may already have your offers (well done on them, by the way). However for those of you in year 12, you’ve still got all this ahead of you; expect a lot of pondering about your future and travelling around the country on open days over the next year.

I spent an awful long time pondering on the ‘what to study’. I swept across everything from film to law, marketing to psychology until I finally ended up at bioscience or medicine. I talked to my family and friends in the medical/science professions and my teachers at school and they gave me some really helpful insights. I also went to a couple of lectures and talks about careers in medicine and science. When I put all this together, I decided that I actually didn’t really want to be a doctor, but that I did like the science and research behind it, so I settled on the idea of biomedical science, and then pharmacology.

With that sorted, it was then just a case of the ‘where to study’. I personally found open days super-useful for this, as they gave me a chance to properly see the campus, get more information about the course from the actual lecturers who’d be teaching me and most importantly, a chance to talk to current students. Combining this with info I got from prospectuses and websites, I came up with my own criteria for the kind of university I wanted to go to. I was pretty sure I wanted to be in a city, not too close, or too far from home and a flexible course with a ‘year in industry’ programme. This narrowed things to pretty much my final five and I clicked ‘submit’.

I was lucky to get offers from all five of the universities I had applied for, one of which was Manchester. I then went to the post-offer visits, and these gave me a chance to look at the universities in more detail, see the faculty and again, talk to current students. To cut a very long story short, Manchester seemed to tick all the boxes, but so did another university. The dilemma here: two of my best friends were both going to the other university. I was now in a position where I had to choose, and it was a really tough call. In the end, I decided that Manchester was the right place for me, partly because of the strength of the ‘year in industry’ component, and partly because it just felt right (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve been through this!). I put Manchester as my firm and the other university as my insurance and that was that really.

Basically, you need to make this choice for yourself. Don’t follow your friends (you’ll still see each other loads in holidays and on Skype- plus you make a ton of new friends too!) and don’t go where your parents tell you to go. My best advice is to go to open days, and make sure that you get a chance to talk to a current student (there are student ambassadors all over campus normally) who is studying the course you’re looking at doing. Besides that, talk to people. Talk to your parents, teachers, lecturers, students, your cat (more for moral support than careers advice really) and people in the career you’re looking at.

When you see it, you’ll know it’s right, and if you don’t, just go for the thing that you think you’ll enjoy the most, and do the best at.

Best of luck with your applications, I’ll see you again next month with a look at different learning styles…