Don't make these mistakes when you're choosing a university

avoid mistakes concept art

Your options are open – but that's not always a good thing

You've got over 160 universities to choose from, so it can be tough to narrow down your choices.

There are plenty of ways to discover your ideal university, but not all of them are helpful – here are some common traps to dodge when you're deciding where to apply... 

Going to the same university as your boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend

At uni I fell out with my best friend from school who I'd been friends with for like 12 years - thought she was going to be in my life forever.

Anonymous post on The Student Room

While going to the same university as your partner or best friend could make you feel less nervous about moving, you'll meet loads of new people once you start.

Think about university as a fresh start. You don't have to cut anyone off, but your life will likely look different in a few years and relationships can change over time. 

Your priority should be to find a course and university that you're happy with. If you're worried about making friends, you could join some societies to meet new people with similar interests. 

Head over to The Uni Guide to find out more about societies – including what they are, how can you join them and why you should get involved.

Only applying to universities with very high entry requirements

Honestly you only need one solid insurance choice, it's reasonable to have most of the others be at your predicted grades level, and one or two at most perhaps a grade above.


Applying for a course with entry requirements slightly above your predicted grades can help to motivate you during exam season.

But make sure you have other options to fall back on. If you're predicted three Cs, you might not get any offers if you only apply to courses requiring three As.

Here's an example of a varied application that takes different outcomes into consideration:

Feeling pressured to apply for prestigious universities

My mum is not very keen on me putting it down as one of my choices as ‘it has a bad reputation’.


It's definitely worth getting your parents input on any big life decisions, but take their opinions (or anyone else's) about your university options with a pinch of salt.

Your parents are probably right if they say a Russell Group university would look great on your CV, but a less prestigious university could be a better fit for a specific field.

You might be encouraged to apply for prestigious universities, but it's worth doing your own research to find a university that suits you and the course you want to study.

Making decisions based on league table rankings

League tables can't tell you if you will enjoy that course or like being at that uni – remember that it is perfectly possible to be thoroughly miserable at a 'top' uni because you didn't think about the reality of being there or didn't look carefully enough at the course structure or content.


League tables show how a university is rated for various aspects of the university experience – including graduate prospects, student satisfaction and the staff-to-student ratio.

But it's better to use these rankings as a starting point. If a university passes the league table test, research their website and social media – and find their forum on The Student Room to see what current students are saying about their experience. 

A high ranking on the league table doesn't necessarily mean that a university is better, and a lower ranking doesn't mean that a university wouldn't be a great option for the course you want to study.

This article on The Uni Guide shows you some of the best ways to compare different university courses

Not making the most of open days

Go to as many or as few as you want to. I would definitely recommend going to your intended firm choice in person.

Don't forget there are many different options such as virtual open days and taking with current students online.


Open days are a great chance to explore a university before you apply. You can look around, ask questions and meet current students. By the end of the day, you'll probably know if it's somewhere you can see yourself going.

You don't need to attend loads, but it's worth the effort if you're considering applying for the university.

The main thing to focus on at an open day is if you can see yourself living and studying there – try not to be influenced by who gives the best freebies at the event. 

If travelling around the country is a bit too expensive and time-consuming for you, there's always virtual open days instead – you'll still get a decent idea of the uni without all the hassle.

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