When you're choosing a uni it's natural to focus first on areas like the course you'll be studying, or the jobs graduates go on to get. They're important concerns. But the environment around you will define your student experience, so it's well worth spending some time really thinking about the type of university that will suit you. Would you prefer a campus university – a single site with everything in one place – or a city university, with lecture theatres and halls scattered across different locations?
Green or urban scene?
Your home environment might play a big part in where you'll feel comfortable as a student. If you live in a rural location you might be excited by the idea of moving to a big city. If you've always been a city dweller, you might long for the space and beauty of the countryside.
When it comes to selecting a location, there's no right or wrong answer. A city means a range of amenities and good transport links; a campus means you're in a close-knit community atmosphere, surrounded by your peers.
However, it doesn’t have to be either/or. The University of Reading offers the best of both worlds. Based on a beautiful green campus, it is a short bus ride into a lively, vibrant town with lots to offer (including Reading Festival!) and just a 25 minute train journey into central London.
Everything in its right place
A campus can be ideal for those who want to be at the heart of student life. Big campus unis like Reading offer lecture theatres and study space, shops, bars, sporting facilities and accommodation all in one place. Plus, the 24-hour library, which makes getting home from those late night study sessions much easier (with a nearby bar for a relaxing drink on the way).
City unis might group some of their facilities together, but you can usually expect some distance between halls and lectures. However, this can offer more opportunities to explore the world beyond studentville.
A real benefit of campus unis is that it is very easy to be part of the student community. You all live, study and play together, so you feel a genuine sense of belonging. Socialising is much easier, and you're never far from home – unis like Reading can boast fantastic student accommodation and over 150 societies and sports clubs to choose from.
Of course, the student community in the city can be just as tight-knit and offer all the same perks in terms of socialising and getting involved in extra-curricular activities. Plus, because you won't only be surrounded by students, your community will be more diverse.
Time to unwind
University isn’t all about hard work and exams. It’s important for students to strike a balance and find the time, and the appropriate space, to relax and unwind.
The question is, what kind of environment will help you recharge after exams or handing in a dissertation?
If you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city then you have lots of unis to choose from. If you prefer to be surrounded by acres of beautiful parkland, with the option of a more urban environment not too far away, then a campus uni like Reading could be the option for you.
Think about what works for you and take it into account when you're looking at potential universities – it will be your home for the next few years.
Making your mind up
It’s not all black and white when it comes to selecting campus vs city unis. Heaven for one student will be hell for another, so it's important to choose what's right for you - not your friends, parents or anyone else.
How to decide? That's where open days come in. They're the best way of really getting a sense of what it's like to live and study somewhere, and you'll probably get a instant feeling of whether a place is right for you or not. So book yourself in (read our open day advice too), think about all these points, and you'll be on the way to finding the uni that’s right for you.
The University of Reading's next open days are taking place on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 June. To book your place, go to their website.