KEY APPLICATION DEADLINES:
DO YOU plan t o go to university in 2016? If you are at the start of the applicat i o n p r o c e s s , you will be faced with thousands of courses and more than 300 universities and colleges — and you have to turn these into five choices. Which? University found 49 per cent of prospective university students feel overwhelmed at this stage. It has come up with this advice:
There are three possible routes — a current subject you enjoy; a course directly related to your chosen career path or a new area of study. When shortlisting courses, ask yourself:
IF IT’S A SUBJECT RELATED TO AN INTEREST
Will you still be interested in this subject for another three to four years? Would you prefer to specialise within that area or take a broader approach?
IF IT’S RELATED TO A CAREER
How is the subject you’re considering viewed by the industry and do you need a particular qualification for your chosen career? Research professionally accredited courses and how flexible the entry routes into that field may be.
IF IT’S A NEW AREA OF STUDY
What is your principal reason for taking the subject? Is it because of a career
October 15, 2015 – any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/ science and dentistry
January 15, 2016 – most other courses
March 24, 2016 – some art and design courses path or because you are fascinated by that subject? It is good to question your choices and make sure they are the right ones for you.
If, after all these questions, you are still unsure, consider a joint honours degree combining a familiar subject with something new.
Closely examine specific course details — content and modules, entry requirements and academic structure and reputation — and take into account the geographical and environmental factors that are important to you. Open days can give you a feel for what different universities have to offer and if they would be a good fit.
While courses might have similar titles, what they contain will differ from university to university. Study the details of the course content and modules and do as much wider reading as possible. Also consider whether you want to be able to do work placements, sandwich courses or field trips. And look at the split between coursework, exams, lectures and independent study — it’s important to find the course with the right blend for your study preferences.
For the Ucas application, you need to identify five courses on which you have a realistic chance of obtaining a place. Based on the universities that make you an offer, you’ll then have to settle on your firm (first) choice and your insurance (second) choice. Select courses with a sensible spread, including a safe bet alongside a more ambitious option. Your insurance choice should have a lower entry requirement than your first choice.
Another way of narrowing your options is by deciding where you want to live. Visit a few universities. Bear in mind the cost of living in each area — your student budget will need to accommodate your choices.
League tables, friends, family, teachers and advisers can guide you but beware of over-simplified notions of what is viewed as a “good” university.
Course content, assessment methods, grade requirements and location should always be your top priorities. Student satisfaction scores and feedback from current students will help.
For more information, or to use the free Which? University course search tool, which allows you to find, shortlist and compare courses, take a look at www.university.which.co.uk
Select universities where you feel comfortable with the teaching methods