This may sound like an easy question and I know what you’re thinking: “you look at a prospectus”, “you go to an open day”, “you attend your interview”. But researching universities is a big decision and is more complicated than you might think.
If you’re currently doing your A levels, or similar qualifications, then you’ll probably be aware about making your next step in terms of your education or possibly your career. For a lot of people, that next step is university.
However, you can’t just make a decision overnight on where you want to go! There’s loads of painful researching and thinking that you need to do to make sure that the decision you make is the right one.
After going through this long yet necessary process relatively recently, here are a few of my tips for when you’re doing your research and what made Essex stand out to me…
What is the course like?
A major part of looking through wades of prospectuses is looking at the courses that a university offers. The most important part of what you want to get out of university is your course! If you don’t enjoy your course, then you’re not really going to enjoy your time at university…
Think about what you want to get out of your course. What really excites you about it? How is the course assessed? If a university offers you what you think you want, then it’s likely that the course is for you!
What excited me about the Drama course at Essex is the equal weighting between practical and written assessments and the opportunity to perform on stage at the Lakeside Theatre as part of my course!
Me (in the green shirt) rehearsing for a show on the Lakeside Theatre stage
You’ll find that you will be able to disregard a lot of universities by looking at their prospectus/website and seeing whether they do and don’t offer the course that you want to study.
What makes the university stand out?
What really stands out to you as the major positives about the university? It could be the facilities, the department, the opportunities available etc. But basically, you need to ask yourself: what does the university offer you the chance to do, that you won’t get anywhere else?
It could just be the case of already feeling right at home there on an open day or your interview. Whatever it is, feel excited about wanting to study there!
Essex really stood out to me for being one of the only universities in the country that doesn’t charge a tuition fee for a Study Aboard year and they have over 170 partner universities to choose from! I personally cannot wait to study abroad in Australia next year!
A snapshot of my home for my Study Abroad year: Brisbane, Australia
Where is the University located?
A big thing to consider is where the university is located. If you live on the other side of the world to where you want to study, then it could be a factor to take into consideration. Travel costs could rack up quite easily if you live far away and you’re travelling between university and home regularly, especially if you like going home a lot…(alternatively, if you can’t wait to get away from home, then somewhere further away will be perfect for you!)
The location of the University of Essex’s Campuses
This shouldn’t be a deciding factor but you should definitely consider it when making your choice.
What do your parents or friends think?
Okay, so you might want to take this advice with a pinch of salt, but getting a second opinion from someone can be really helpful when doing your research. They may be able to see stuff that you miss, or they might make you think about things in a different way.
Take them with you to an open day, get them to look through a prospectus, let them have their say in where you’re going to go!
That said, it’s important to remember that ultimately this is your decision. You’re going to be the one studying there, not your family or friends, so make the decision that suits you.
Take a look at the league tables and rankings.
Although these change every year, they give you a good idea on what universities’ strengths and weaknesses are. For example, Essex is currently ranked 2nd in the country for Student Satisfaction (owww yeah)!
Can you imagine yourself there for the next 3 years of your life?
In my opinion, this is the ultimate question you need to think about when weighing up your options and applying to universities.
After taking everything into account, can you imagine yourself having a brilliant time at the university and ultimately making life long memories?
If so, then you’ve probably found out where you want to go! I certainly did when I found Essex and I’ve never looked back 🙂
Me with a few friends, having a dance at Milk It! (The cheesy music night on campus)