10 things to look for when comparing universities
It is tricky trying to decide what universities to go to. You need to compare some of the gathered information to make the right decision. Here are some of the things you should be looking at when making the comparison.
Match the course entry requirements to your predicted grades to ensure you’re making the right choice. Consider the universities that you dream of going to and also the ones that may not be as good, but you are sure that would definitely accept you for your grades. This means that if you do better than expected, you’d be going to your top choice university and if you are not successful with your first choice, there are still a lot of universities that you’ve drawn out. This way, you won’t feel terribly disappointed or lost.
Types of university
Do you look for a university with an active political scene or one with a reputation for sports? Are you interested in a strong student union that offers lots of societies and nightlife options? Different universities have different characteristics based on the location and the international student population. It’s best that you find one that fits your culture and values.
From self-contained campuses to city universities, you should consider your location and if you’re comfortable travelling from one place to another for lectures. Do you plan to commute and have the budget for travelling costs? For those who favour the buzzing nightlife, ending up in a sleepy self-contained campus may bore you during the duration of your degree. Find out the exact location of the university to make sure you don’t make the wrong choice.
Student satisfaction scores
All final year students have to rate their course and university experience. The findings are often published and you can find specific ratings such as teaching, feedback from staff and learning resources. This will give you a glimpse into what students on the ground think about the course.
How you’ll spend your time
Will you be provided with a structured timetable or will you be expected to work independently in the library? What about your placement year opportunities? A history course may have fewer timetabled hours compared to an engineering course. Compare the teaching hours between similar courses at different universities.
Read the course content thoroughly and ask yourself if you can happily spend the next few years of your life committed to this course. Similar-sounding courses may end up covering other different areas, so be sure to compare this. There will be core and optional subjects – find out if they are flexible? Most importantly, do they sound appealing?
How you’ll be assessed
Your degree could be assessed based on your coursework, exams, practicals, presentations and group work. Look at the details and find the course that best plays to your academic strengths. If you’ve only ever done coursework in college, then you will face a steep learning curve in university if the course is more exam-oriented.
Find out what students do after they graduate from university? Find out the types of professions they’re working in and how much they’re earning. It’s also worth finding out if the employer you hope to work for some day, favours graduates from a particular university.
For subjects like acting or psychology, choose a course that has been accredited by a relevant body. This will ensure that you’re work-ready or able to progress straight into the appropriate postgraduate course.
Find out how many applicants received an offer for the course the previous year. A lower number can indicate that it’s a competitive course to get on to.
An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.