How to choose a university (now ‘A’ Level results are looming)

academic success coaching choose a university

How to choose a university now ‘A’ level results are looming? You sent off your UCAS form ages ago but now ‘A’ level results day is fast approaching and you’re starting to be very aware of the important life choice you’re about to make. You have probably already made a decision but don’t underestimate the importance of reassessing your options and your choice so far. This is something that you should do over the next few weeks to be sure that you are doing what is right for you.


Choosing a university has never been easy. And now with the rise in university fees  you feel that choice is all the more important.


You need to see a return on your investment.


You need the university you choose to provide 4 straightforward characteristics: 1) to care about your best interests 2) to support you through your studies 3) to provide you with the facilities you need and 4) to offer guidance on future career options and choices.


In short, you need value for money.


So, how do you go about making that happen?


Well, you have around 130 universities to choose from in the United Kingdom. Which means that one big advantage is that you have plenty of choice. However, having lots of choice as you know doesn’t mean that it makes choosing easier. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. The difficulty is in narrowing down that choice to find what is best for YOU.


So, how do you do that?


Make it personal


The relationship you hope to have with your university will be unique.


And that uniqueness will be down to them and you.


Don’t forget that.


So, following 4 simple steps can help you to make the right choice for your specific circumstances and future.




  • Ask yourself what YOUR end goal is. Getting clear on what is most important for you is key. You can do that by asking yourself two simple questions. First ask yourself: ‘What is my main reason for going to university?’ and second ‘What do I want to achieve by the end?’ For example, do you want a specific job after graduating? Are you doing it because you think you won’t get a good enough job without it? Are you doing it because you are being pressured into it by family and friends? Or are you doing it because you have a passion and drive for a specific subject? Take all the time you need to answer those questions. Your next step will obviously then depend on the answers you give. Depending on your answers you might even decide that university is not for you. But let’s just imagine, for arguments sake, that you decide to go ahead regardless of your reasons for applying to UCAS in the first place.




  • What are you interested in? It’s no good doing something for the next 3 years or so if you’re not going to be remotely interested in it. I’m not saying that you have to be hugely passionate about a specific subject. As Elisabeth Gilbert says in her popular talk Don’t Chase Your Passion and Maybe You’ll Find It , we shouldn’t feel pressured into having just one single burning passion. You might be the type of person who is interested in lots of subjects making it difficult to choose just one thing. Take the pressure off yourself. Simply do something YOU’RE interested in. Not something that you’re feeling pressured into doing. At least, that’s my advice, anyway!




  • Where you go is important. Take all the time you need to do your research and consider your options carefully. University is a big step and where you choose to go to university will have an impact on what your future holds. Earlier this year you already made your choices and you will perhaps have a number of conditional or unconditional offers. Don’t forget that clearing is an option too if you decide to decline the offers you’ve had so far.  When you get your ‘A’ level results make sure that you take the time to reassess the options you have and the choices you’ve made.




  • What will you commit to doing? It’s not good deciding to go somewhere if your heart isn’t in it. Listen to your intuition. If you feel it isn’t right then it probably isn’t. The right choice is not always the most prestigious place, part of the Russell Group, where you are expected to go or where your boyfriend or girlfriend is going. The right place is a delicate combination of where YOU feel most comfortable, where YOU are going to be challenged in positive ways and where YOU can afford to live.


So, whatever you decide over the next few weeks, I wish you all the best.




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