The UCAS deadline is looming (January 15th, folks!) and if you're applying to uni it's almost decision time. What should you be considering to make sure you pick the right uni and course for you? We teamed up with the University of Bradford and asked current students what they'd ask about if they were completing their UCAS applications now. Here are their top five questions:
1 – Is the course I've chosen right for me?
Your choice of course will affect who you meet at uni, the direction of your career, what you learn – even how you think and the way you see the world. No wonder 85% of Bradford students said it's an important one to get right.
You can help yourself by really digging into the detail of the courses you're investigating. Unis like Bradford have lots of info on their websites so dig into it and make sure that the programme will take you where you want to go, and that it feels interesting and exciting to you. If it makes you want to whimper from sheer existential despair, it might not be the one for you.
2 - What sports / societies are available to me at this university?
Uni is an opportunity to get involved in lots of things and lets you experiment with hobbies, interests, haircuts and more, in a safe, supportive environment.
Unless you turn up and all your uni offers is a weekly 'watching paint dry session', of course. So Bradford students recommend finding out what you can do in advance. Is there a sport you play at the moment, or would like to try? Or an activity you've always wanted to do more of? See what's on offer at the unis you're researching – students union websites like the one at Bradford will tell all online - and use that knowledge when you're making your decision.
3 - What is the nightlife / culture like both on and off campus?
Whatever you like to do to wind down, you're going to want it to be available while you're a student. Start with the campus: are there good options on your doorstep? They'll usually be cheaper and a good place to meet other students – have a look on the uni website to get started.
But look further afield too, so you know what's on offer if you want to explore. (This is when attending an Open Day can be helpful.)
4 - What exposure to industry will I have while studying my degree?
If you want to work in a particular field when you graduate it's useful to get a head start. A course with strong links to the relevant industry – which could be anything from engineering to theatre – can really help here. You'll network with potential employers and also pick up practical knowledge.
Bradford students have great contacts with industry on their courses and over half of them say it's an important thing to consider, so make sure you delve into the details of any degree programme and find out how it will prepare you for work.
5 - What is the University accommodation like and does it suit my needs? / What is the learning and teaching support available to me?
In joint fifth place according to Bradford students are two very different kinds of support. Where you live and sleep will make a huge difference to how you feel every day; and so will the help you get from your tutors.
You should check out accommodation online to make sure it ticks your boxes, and that it caters for any special requirements you might have; don't forget to visit during open days, too.
Similarly, find out how you'll be encouraged and developed by academic staff, and if they can help with any special requirements. Will you get personal time with the tutors? What if you're struggling for some reason? Unis like Bradford take this seriously, for a good reason: feeling confident and supported will help when you're in the midst of exams or coursework, or any other time the going gets tough.
Applying to uni is challenging, but arm yourself with these tips from Bradford's students, ask the questions, and you'll be one step nearer to filling in that form with confidence. Good luck!