How to Choose your University

I’m sure a lot of A level students reading this are trying to work out what they want to study for a degree, where to study and what to do for the rest of their career and possibly panicking a fair amount. Whilst I can’t help with the last two, although they may follow from the previous, I can hopefully provide some tips about the first two after going through decision twice.

There are a couple of ways of deciding what you want to study for degree; you can either choose what you like doing, what you’re good at, something that interests you or something that leads to a particular job or career. Hopefully it will tick several or all of the above, in which case it becomes a little easier.

  • Choosing what you are good at, makes the degree potentially easier when you get to university but be warned that degree level is a fair step up from A levels so it doesn’t always follow. It depends on how well you adapt to self study, which I didn’t do too well on first time round.
  • What you like doing is a very good way to pick a degree in my opinion as if you enjoy something you are more likely to apply yourself and take an interest in course. The downside comes if you are not the best at the subject but people tend to enjoy what they are good at so this isn’t often a problem.
  • Something that interests you links in with enjoyment but it may be that the course isn’t available at A level eg optometry or is a specialised area of a particular subject you are studying at A level.
  • Having a particular career in mind is great, especially in the current economic and job climate, so if you know what you want to do with the rest of your life then go for it, especially if it interests you and/or you enjoy doing it. The downside only happens if you don’t get onto your degree of choice or get a job at the end of it.

The first time I choose my degree (Maths and Stats) was because it was what I was good at, and I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do at the end of it. It turned out I didn’t really enjoy it but worked my way through it, in the mean time I learned that what I thought I wanted to do, I didn’t. This meant when I reached the end of my degree I didn’t know what I wanted to do so ended up in a comfortable but not particularly productive job. The second time round I did a bit more research and choose course based on a career that used what I was good at, skills I had learnt and as a result I have discovered I really enjoy it and that the subject really interests me.

When it comes to choosing where you want to study, I have one main piece of advice – GO AND VISIT! You can look at pictures, read about the university and even watch videos around the campus and halls but the best thing to do is go and visit the university. That way you get a feel of what the department is like, you can see the halls, what the surrounding city is like and importantly it gives you the chance to speak to the staff and current students. What are the staff like, what are the facilities like, do the students enjoy being there, what is the workload like, was Sherlock/Doctor Who filmed in their building (sorry, optometry advantage)? Whilst the last university wide open day for this year has gone there will be more and specific school days for particular courses so come along. If you come to Cardiff you may even get to meet Dylan the Dragon.


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