Many of us are facing our last year in high school, and with that comes the future. For a lot of us, that means trying to pick out of the many options, a university. So these are my tips from one stressed uni hunter to another.
1. Pick a subject
The obvious first step is to pick what you want to do, and the most important thing about this is picking something YOU love, not your parents, not the course your mates are doing, not even the thing you are best at but just don't enjoy. You have to spend four years doing this and you're spending a lot of money on it, make sure you love it. If you're interested in a more practical subject or career plan, consider an apprenticeship in your field. You can get a degree, work experience, and paid all in one!
2. Campus or City?
One of the next things you should think about is do you want to be specifically in a city or to go to a campus university? Do you want the chance to explore all over a new city with a uni that is spread out across the city? Or do you want all of your uni supplies and buildings to be held together in one place? Some universities will offer you this opportunity, others may be different. What's important is knowing that you will like the location and set up of the place you will be spending the next few years studying.
2. Top-ranked schools
Some schools have more prestige surrounding them, such as Oxford or Cambridge here in the UK, or Harvard in the States. For some people, this really appeals to what they want. I for one was not even considering applying but for some people, they're the obvious option. They are a lot of work and difficult to get into but if you really love them go for it!
4. The Course
Carefully read through the information about the course and what sections are covered, make sure it does the things you love and not only the things you aren't that interested in. You might want to look into the exciting opportunity of studying abroad or you might be looking for a work placement year or a foundation year! If you don't like the course you might as well not like the subject at all.
5. Check out the university
Now it's probably time to travel to the few universities you've decided you like for an open day so you can really look at it, meet some teachers and some current students so you can get some first-hand advice. If once you get there and you don't like the library, the campus isn't for you, or you find out something you didn't know and don't like, then it's not the university for you.
6. Time to apply!
If you've narrowed it down to your five options after what feels like years of deciding, it's time to write a personal statement and practice your interview skills. Then send in that application. The application process is different in every county; for instance, here in the UK, we use UCAS, but in the US you might want to use the Common APP. Find out how you apply where you live and ask people who have already done it or ask specific guidance counselors what you need to do and be prepared for. Be brave and go for it!
Thanks for reading and good luck wherever your university and higher education journey takes you!