Six things to do before making your firm uni choice

Heard back from all the unis you applied to? Now it’s time to make another decision – which uni to choose as your main ‘firm’ choice and which to choose as your back-up ‘insurance’. 
There’s lots to think about, but really only two things matter. Can you get the grades to meet the offer and will you actually like learning and living there for the next three years?

Here are six smart tips on what you need to do before making your decision.
 

1. Get to the uni

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting to know your preferred uni. There’s only one way to decide if a place is right for you: visit! If you’re put off by eye-watering rail fares, look for a way round it. Share a lift with a friend, get a railcard, book some off-peak advance tickets or opt for the Megabus. 
You don’t need to look for a scheduled open day, most unis run weekly campus tours. Just get in touch first to get yourself booked in. When you call, ask whether you can meet with a lecturer from your course (or some of the current students) so you can get more of a feel for the place.
 

2. Will you meet the offer?

How do your predicted grades stack up against your offers? If your favoured uni has hit you with an offer that’s three grades higher than your predicted grades then you’ve got some thinking to do. How likely is it that you’ll meet the offer on results day? Be honest!
You might feel up for the challenge right now, but bear in mind that this is going to lump extra pressure on you during exam time. When you come to make your choice, pick an offer that you feel confident you can achieve.
 

3. Refresh your memory about the course

 

It’s probably been a while since you did your uni research. Time for a memory jog! Go back over the notes you made during open days (you did make some, didn’t you?). Check the course details in the prospectus to make sure it still appeals to you. If you want a bit more reassurance, dig out some student satisfaction scores and graduate employment stats as well as student reviews of courses and unis. 

 

More help on TSR: 
Our full guide to making your firm and insurance choices 
Guide to A-level Results Day 

4. Check out the lifestyle

Now this one won’t be the absolute dealbreaker, but don’t forget: uni should be fun. Check out the nightlife; take a look into the non-study stuff. Spending some time on the student union websites for your various unis is a good way to do this. It will give you an idea of what’s going on and get you in the mood for being a student there. 

5. Imagine yourself living there

What’s your preferred lifestyle: the buzzing city or the laidback country? Give it lots of thought because you’re going to be living in this place for the next three years. Money’s important, too. Consider the cost of living and things like the price of travelling home. 
If you’ve visited the city that you’re planning to firm, did you like it there? For instance, if you’re looking for good shopping and a vibrant nightlife, does this place offer this to you?

6. Pick an insurance that’s more than just a back-up

Miss your firm and your insurance automatically comes into play, so make sure you genuinely would be happy to go there. Don’t forget, you don’t have to pick an insurance. If there’s nowhere you can imagine going other than your firm then reject all your other offers. If you miss your firm on results day you’ll be placed straight into Clearing, where you’re free to choose from all available courses and unis.

Double-check the student accommodation policies for insurance students. Many unis offer guaranteed accommodation to first years, but that’s often for firm students only. This could mean you live in a house share rather than halls in your first year, so consider whether this is something you’d be happy to do as a fresher. 


 

More help on TSR: 
Before you go to uni in 2016 
Check out courses and student reviews on Uni Match