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    It really does depend on the individual. For example, some people do wish to go home regularly and so proximity to parents is important. Others like myself only go home at the end of term, so distance only adds a few extra hours of driving per year - hardly a major factor. Prestige matters for some courses, but less so for others. The accommodation again really depends on how much you personally care, and what your personal financial circumstances are... its very hard to say.

    And the final less than helpful thing i have so say is... in my experience the most important factors tend to be the ones that you can't predict! The people you share your time at uni with are going to be by far the biggest factor in your happiness really, and sadly you simply have no idea who they are going to be beforehand.

    Some people say to get a 'gut feelingl' of social atmosphere from an open day, but i personally feel that is a load of BS dependent purely on how sunny it is and how attractive the people who show you around are! You can't assess an entire uni worth of students in one day.

    For me, cheap accommodation, a close-knit social setup and good societies were the most important things. In the end i only had one offer though, so that made it easy!

    You just need to decide what is important to you and make the best decision you can. Sorry i can't say something more definitive.
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    (Original post by nexttime)

    For me, cheap accommodation, a close-knit social setup and good societies were the most important things. In the end i only had one offer though, so that made it easy!

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    I think this guy has it spot on! The most important things are definitely the ones you can't really control beforehand.

    Although, many days I feel glad that I picked a uni with a reasonably good reputation as it provides some motivation to get out of bed and work hard even when i'm unhappy with certain things. For example, I feel i've been a bit unlucky with the people I lived with in freshers, I live with some of them now but we don't get on but because I feel that I worked hard to get here and will hopefully get a degree that's worth having (Although i'm not sure I think my subject is worth having haha) I can plough on. Plus because the uni has a good amount of well-run societies I have made other friends that way.

    Hopefully that's not too pessimistic. I think you basically need to make sure all the factors you can control, eg. location, reputation of uni, societies/clubs that you're interested in etc. are as you want them, and then do your best to make the rest of it fall into place when you start uni.
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    (Original post by nexttime)
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    (Original post by Antifazian)
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    Thanks for replying guys, they were both really useful
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    I'd rather go to an enjoyable university than one with just prestige. You'll have to walk those streets and those corridors for 3 years or more, and if you hate the place, you'll just get bad grades. You've got to love where you're working because it will motivate you to do well. Depending on the industry, some employers may prefer a better grade over where you studied, but I intend to top-up my degree with a postgraduate degree from a "better" university (I lacked grade requirements at the time, but should be able to get in with my graduate scores if it all goes well) so there are things you can do to boost your potential later on. The best way to know which university is right for you is to just visit them. For me, it was immediately obvious where I wanted to be based on the facilities and the area.

    Accommodation is so-so for me. I don't see the point in spending masses on halls because you're probably only going to be there for one year. Most halls are acceptable. It might be worth looking at student houses in the area as you'll be living in those for the majority of your degree.

    Location and distance to home wasn't an issue for me. All the major ones I was looking at had great links by rail or road. Unless you can't find another reason to justify your choice, I wouldn't consider location too much. I only really go home during the holidays (every 12 weeks or so) and the odd weekend in between. Unless you're planning to go home every fortnight, in which case travel could become an important expense, don't worry about it. Research it by all means, but there are more important factors.

    In terms of social life, I wasn't too bothered. Most universities are quite well suited in this area (given the main demographic). Check out the local town/city and see if there are any good links to other towns too. You could have a look on the "SU" (Student's Union) website for your university to look at the sports and societies as well.


    Just try and find somewhere which feels comfortable. You can look at UniStats to check out the graduation potential from that institute/degree, but I'd be more interested in finding a nice university than a prestigious one. Obviously, don't pick the worst university in the world to go to, but within your ability and grade potential, find somewhere which just feels right.
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    In first year what actually mattered was getting excessively drunk excessively often, going out all the time, and ensuring you had enough cash on hand to fund the aforementioned habits.

    Slightly more seriously, the point somebody made about the 'uncontrollable' factors being the most important is true - at least in my experience. It's easy to think that you have been incredibly lucky to end up with the people you do in first year (and subsequently after), but I think the reality is you would have to be pretty unlucky to end up with a group of people you really didn't get on with. I think accommodation etc is very much secondary to the people you are with (in first year we lived in a complete tip of a hall, but it was our tip etc.) and that really isn't something you can control.

    Apart from that, I would say do a course you know you are passionate about. If you lack interest or get bored of your course, you're going to struggle to see it out I would imagine.
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    It depends on the person, and I think there is also a big difference between what matters when you are at university, and after you have graduated.

    When you're at uni
    - guaranteed halls
    - standards of teaching
    - how big the bursary is
    - social life & nightlife
    - what societies are on offer

    After you're at uni
    - what uni you went to (though this matters more for some sectors than others, law being notorious for this, and TSR does tend to get rather over-wound about prestige)
    - internships and work experience you did
    - contacts you met at uni
    - grades you got whilst at uni
    - experience you gained and leadership positions held through extra-curricular activities
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    (Original post by SillyEddy)
    You'll have to walk those streets and those corridors for 3 years or more, and if you hate the place, you'll just get bad grades.

    Just try and find somewhere which feels comfortable.
    I'd go with this. Whilst it's been pointed out that you can never be sure about a uni from an open day, gut feel has a lot going for it. If you visit a place and just want to get out again as fast as possible, then at the very least it will probably take you longer to settle in. How a campus "feels" to you as an individual can have a profound effect. If you dread walking onto campus each day, you're less likely to do it.

    If you keep your eyes and ears open, visits can also tell you a lot about things like knackered demotivated staff or slightly shabby lab facilities. Even when on their "best behaviour", stressed people can drop hints about underlying issues in a department or uni. Things like unkempt grounds (litter left around, grass not mown) or buildings (paintwork scuffed, windows need washing) can point to a lack of care or funds.

    Ultimately it's going to be a deeply personal thing and the uncontrollable variables can make all the difference. Sometimes it really is the luck of the draw and whether you have the nerve to get in there and go for it, regardless of glitches.
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    I agree about gut feeling. I fell in love with Bath on my open day... And then had to come up with some concrete reasons why it was a good choice for my parents! (Incidentally, my mum was just going along with it until I took her on my post offer day where they had a massive uni of the year sign).

    For me, the important things were an easy journey home (not necessarily short, but fairly hassle free, my journey is a couple of hours with one change on the train and my parents pick me up from the train station), a nice city that wasn't huge (I've grown up around London and I wanted to explore another city) and a good reputation. I have to say, finding out a few weeks into my degree that the Sunday Times ranked us 3rd in the country massively spurred me on to do well.

    Oh, and year-round halls that you don't have to take stuff home in the holidays are useful, though shouldn't be a decider in what uni to apply for!
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    thanks for all the replies

    I know this might be an impossible question, but which kind of accommodation would be the most sociable - a student village where you know all your friends will be staying, or somewhere with scattered accommodation so you have more choice and are more likely to be with similar people on similar courses?
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    Remember, there will be times when you dont want to be 'social'. Like when you have a major piece of work to finish to an absolute deadline, or when you are feeling ill. Living in the middle of party land on occasions like this will not be fun.

    Choose somewhere that is walkable to the Student Union building or wherever the cheap drink is, but where you can get some peace and quiet when you need it, and some sleep.
 
 
 
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