Ten pitfalls to avoid when you choose your university


If you’re trying to choose the perfect uni you’ve probably already spent hours trawling the internet looking at courses and trying to figure out the best location. But have you ever wondered about the pitfalls you should avoid? After all, this decision will shape the rest of your life.

Thankfully, the experts at Coventry University have given the heads up on what things you shouldn’t take into account and what you really should.

My girlfriend/boyfriend is going there

It’s an unfortunate truth that loads of relationships break up within the first few weeks of university so choose the right uni and course for you, not simply because your boyfriend or girlfriend will be there too.

Strong relationships will stand the test of distance anyway but if you’re on the same campus and do break up, remember you’ll have three years of awkwardly bumping into each other!

Ignoring entry requirements

If you know you’re predicted DDD in your A-levels but the course you have your eye on is ABB, you probably won’t get offered a place no matter how stunning your personal statement is.

Simon Jones, Deputy Director for UK Admissions from Coventry says: “At Coventry we aim to have a good mix of students and we take into account lots of different aspects of your application. However, if your grades are going to be vastly different from what we request then we may not be able to give you a place on your first-choice course so make sure you’re realistic in your choices. If in any doubt have a conversation with the uni in question in advance of submitting your application”

Relying on reputation alone

It’s far too easy to say you’re not going somewhere because someone’s mate said it was rubbish. But are you really getting the whole truth if you rely on rumour and Chinese whispers? Such views are often based on very personal experiences and can be very dated.

Don’t just take people’s words at face value, do your own research and find out a bit more about the universities that take your fancy and you might be pleasantly surprised. Did you know, for example, that Coventry University recently won a gold award for teaching excellence and has been voted one of the top unis to study at in the UK.

Skipping open days

You’re really missing a trick if you don’t bother with open days – they’re a great opportunity to get a feel for campus life and talk to current students in person. If you don’t attend you might choose a uni that on paper seems perfect but in reality, is totally unsuitable for you.

Simon Jones says: “Coventry holds a number of open days and they’re a great way for prospective students to get to know what our uni is like, what the courses entail, meet the lecturers and talk to students to get a real on-the-ground perspective. There’s nothing like an open day to really give you a glimpse of what uni life will be like.”

Open day overload

Visiting too many open days can hamper your decision. You can spend too much time and money travelling up and down the country, especially if you’re visiting universities that you could have ruled out by doing a bit of research. Get on the web and check out your unis first. Draw up a short list of the ones you like and that offer the course you want and make comparisons before nailing it down to two or three you would actually like to visit.

I can’t afford it

There’s no denying it, uni is expensive these days with fees on average of £9,250 a year. Ouch! But don’t let this be a bar to choosing the right university for you. Most unis offer help to students with limited finances and with a bit of careful planning you should be able to go where you want.

Simon Jones says: “We have a finance department dedicated to helping students with financial queries. There are also various scholarships open to undergraduates as well as our Flying Start programme which covers some of the mandatory costs on certain courses. If finances still remain a block to your future studies there are also cheaper options on offer at Coventry such as CU Group courses”.

Relying only on league tables

It’s easy to rely on league tables and judge a uni simply by its position in the charts. But there are so many table - which one is right? Also remember that subjects are ranked individually in some league tables so it’s well worth looking at subject-level rankings too

But it is far better to look at the uni as a whole taking into account course and location, clubs and societies, night life, academic support, accommodation and facilities.

Simon Jones says: “You’re going to be spending at least three years at uni so don’t forget to look at all the other amazing stuff your uni could offer you. League tables are a useful starting point when faced with so much choice at the beginning of your journey but any final decisions really need to be based on your own research, your own personal ranking”

Bringing the parents

Having the folks to hold your hand at open days can feel comforting but university is about stepping out on your own and making your own decisions about your future. That’s not to say you should dismiss your parents completely but it can be a double-edged sword having them come with you.

This is a major step into adulthood. Your parents aren’t going to be there all the time at uni and they may have different opinions about what is right for you.

Making stuff up

One sure-fire way to NOT getting into the uni you want is to make stuff up on your personal statement or have someone else write it. It should be about you, why you are right for the course and what experience you have. It’s a good idea to get someone else to read through your statement when you feel happy with it, and ask for feedback, but write it yourself.

Don’t say things like you have read a certain book or done a particular course if you haven’t. If you get called for interview and asked about it, at best it will be embarrassing, at worst you risk not getting the place you want.

Ignoring what you love doing

Yes, you may be going to uni to study engineering or law but if you love rugby or horse riding don’t pick a campus where you can’t do those things! As well as finding somewhere that offers academic excellence in your chosen subject make sure you can indulge your passions too. It’s important to be happy wherever you decide to study.

For further information about studying at Coventry visit www.coventry.ac.uk