I have offers to study Biological Sciences at Imperial College or Cardiff University and I'm completely stuck. I know Imperial is a science based uni and highly respected around the world. The course seems good, I love the area and I'd be close to home which is nice. However, recently I've been hearing a lot about how Imperial works its students to death and that it's a very high pressured, quite isolating environment where lots of like-minded people go (as well as the uneven gender ratio). This has put me off a lot as I don't want to be miserable for 3 years and I'm scared that I'd just crumble under the pressure and end up not getting such a good qualification.
On the other hand when I visited Cardiff I loved it. The town is perfect, the course modules sound very interesting (and I'd get a masters at the end of my course) and from what I've heard it's a very friendly place to study. The entry requirements for both Cardiff and Imperial are the same for this course, however, Cardiff is ranked in the mid 30s in most uni tables I've seen and although I know ranking isn't everything, I'm worried that the work-ethic and the standard of teaching might be slightly lower and I wouldn't be pushed as much because of this. I've also heard a lot of people go to Cardiff because of the nightlife which is something I'm not so interested in :/
Is is better to be at a uni that is prestigious, and pushes you, but maybe is quite narrow-minded and high pressured, or somewhere you would feel happier, but is not as well respected and may have a lower standard of teaching?
... and the ones that won't