Choosing the right university is an important decision and you want to get it right! You go round to all the open days and talks and you can’t decide which one is the best option for you. I believe their are 6 factors when choosing the right university. And I will tell you why these 6 factors lead me to choosing Essex!
Your degree subject
By now you may know what subject you want to do, so the first thing to ask yourself is does the university you’re looking at do your perfect degree? I don’t just mean ‘do they run the degree you want’ I mean, ‘does the course sound interesting and does it cover the aspects of the topic that you’re interested in?’
I found Essex when my local university didn’t do the Psychology degree I wanted. I was considering a few universities and then I saw the Psychology department at Essex and it just had everything I wanted! They have lots of computer labs, testing booths and equipment and the course itself sounded really interesting; that’s when I knew I had to come to Essex!
My tip: Go and look round departments, go to any talks they offer, read the prospectus or check them out on the web and see what they can offer you!
Another important factor when choosing a university is the facilities they have for you to study. I know that you might be more excited for the social life uni will give you, but considering how and where you’re going to be sitting until 3am writing essays, or your dissertation, is a huge factor when it comes to deciding which University you think is the best for you. Surprisingly, not all Universities have many places that you can actually sit down and study that isn’t a silent library!
Essex stood out to me because it has a lot of different studying facilities. There are 23 different places around the university that have computers for your to use, including PC labs, the student centre and the library. There are 5 floors in the library filled with books to help you do your essays. There are plenty of quiet study spaces dotted around each floor, and don’t forget the reading room on the ground floor! Or, if you like a quiet but a little more social environment, the newly built student centre has a number of computers and study spaces perfect for this!
Essex is not short of places to study which was an important factor for me, especially now I commute so spend a lot of my day in the student centre!
My tip: If a University has got a particularly good facility for students, it will be showing it off! Look out for the Universities that promote their study spaces and have information about them. If a University isn’t saying much about it, you’ve got to ask why that might be.
Location Location Location
The location of your uni is extremely important. Is your chosen uni a 4-hour drive away and you want to move as far away from home as possible? Or is it just down the road which is exactly what you want, when you want to pop back home for a Sunday roast? What drew me to Essex was that I lived far enough to be living in a different town, but I then had to option to commute too.
It’s also really important to think about what you want to be near when you’re at Uni. Being in a city might seem like a great idea, but can you afford the prices around there, or could you be within commutable distance to a city, without the city prices?! Would you be happy to have to travel quite far on buses or trams to get to your lectures, or would you prefer everywhere to be nearby to each other and within greener surroundings? Access to the great outdoors might be especially important for those sporty people out there!
I love Essex because it has everything in one place with various restaurants, shops, bars and their own nightclub all a few minutes of each other! I loved the idea of everything being in one place. It often meant in first year when I lived on campus I didn’t need to leave campus very often, but if you did want to go in to town it’s just a cheap 20-minute bus ride and nearby train stations mean that it’s easy to get into London too! It’s the ideal location to get the best of both worlds: a green campus, but close to a bustling town and city.
My tip: Think about what you really couldn’t live without before you decide where you want to spend the next 3+ years of your life. Whilst university is the perfect time to live life completely differently, the novelty of living in a way you’re unused to can quickly wear off if you haven’t really thought it through. Take a look at student profiles or blogs on the web to see how they feel about living and studying at that particular university – genuine insights are the best way to figure out what might be right for you.
Extra curricular activities
University is an experience and not just a degree. You will gain so many life skills and experiences – not just what your degree teaches you! Even if right now you think you wouldn’t want to get involved in any clubs or societies, you have to think down the line and what might look good on your CV too.
Perhaps at some point you’d like to learn a language, do a placement year, or do a year studying abroad? Find out what each university offers – even if you don’t think you’d be interested in those opportunities right now, you might be in three years. Some unis offer opportunities much cheaper than others, so it’s definitely worth bearing in mind.
Essex does has a lot to offer someone who wants to get fully involved in university life. There are over 40 different sports clubs for you to get involved in! There is also lots of different choice in society’s and volunteering opportunities, as well as the opportunity to learn languages in several different ways alongside your degree and a lot of courses also have the option to study abroad for a year in loads of different countries! I was drawn by the idea there was lots of opportunity to get involved during my time at Essex!
My tip: Check out stats to see how your university is rated for student satisfaction – this is a great indication of how many experiences and opportunities are available, as well as the overall happiness of the students that have already been there. A uni with a low rating probably doesn’t have much to offer and students probably didn’t have that good of an experience!
Although you go to university to get a degree, it is handy to get gain some experience along the way and money. If you know you’ll need a job while at university then make sure you look at the employability options at the universities! Another thing to consider is how can you make your CV look better for when you graduate?
Something Essex focuses on is learning employability skills, so that once we finish our degrees, we are well equipped to go out in the big wide world! Essex provides a lot of opportunity to gain them skills, from on campus jobs to earn a bit of extra money, to the frontrunner scheme and volunteering opportunities. Essex was right for me because it helped me to build a CV and make me more prepared to leave university and find a job. I have participated in a number of job opportunities, including a frontrunner placement and advise anyone who comes here to get involved!
My tip: I know it seems like a way off now, but you really do have to think about what you’re going to do after University and what help you can get during your degree. These days, graduates have more than just a degree under their belt, so how is your university going to help you stand out from everyone else?
I hope these 5 factors will help you choose the university that is right for you! For me personally, Essex was the perfect choice! If you have any questions just comment below, or send your questions to the uni on Facebook or Twitter 🙂