How to Choose a College in the UK
Choosing the exact way you are going to continue with your education is a very important step in the life of every young adult. Of course, the first and most important thing you have to consider is deciding on the course you would like to study. Most of the students in the UK go for a mix of what they are truly interested in and enjoy studying plus choosing a career path that will help them get in a professional sphere with many opportunities for development and a plethora of choices. Of course, this choice is very important because your main goal is to be able to stick with your initial choice and be able to gain enough knowledge, understanding, and experience in the field you would like to continue developing your future career.
Then comes the second most important choice you would have to make – you have to consider the college choice. It all starts with looking for the educational institution that will be able to provide you with the most suitable studying methods. A place that is known for the good reputation of the course you are interested in. A place with an overall atmosphere and vibe that suits your personality and resembles your goals, supports you in achieving your milestones. It is a difficult choice, indeed, especially considering the high number of options and colleges you have in the UK. However, it is a decision you have to make because soon you will have to enter your college of choice’s code in your UCAS application. Are you ready?
Of course, there is always this scenario when you don’t have any preference or you cannot choose a particular college. In this case, you can always take advantage of an open UCAS application and leave your destiny in the hands of the computer system to make the most appropriate choice for you. If this is what works for you, go ahead, one day you may be very happy with how things turned out for you. However, if you do prefer a certain educational institution or you simply want to be the commander of your own destiny, make sure you had enough time to make a thorough research and think about what college you are going to choose. Remember, this is the time you are engineering your future and ultimately you would like to engineer it around success so whatever decision you are going to make, make sure you don’t rush it out!
Are some colleges better for certain subjects?
There is no doubt that the different colleges in the UK have a different reputation as it is with everywhere else in the world. Not that some colleges are particularly bad in general and others are the best at everything. It is just the fact that some colleges are more renowned for the education and courses they offer in a particular subject area and field. Naturally, you would try to find which colleges are known for being a better option in the subject you are interested in. However, keep in mind that, after all, and regardless of the college, all higher education institutions in the UK offer a pretty standardised structure of tuition, lectures, seminars, practices, while the format and requirements regarding the exams are very standardised throughout the country too.
So how to choose a college?
Unfortunately, there is no single straightforward answer to this question. Everyone is different and their reasons and motivations for choosing a particular college are very different too. In general, choosing a college is often an overwhelming responsibility that students are not very happy with. However, there is no such a thing as a wrong choice. The main thing you have to remember is that the only thing that matters is your desires and plans, so the only person you have to consider when choosing a college is yourself only.
However, here are some of the common aspects you would like to consider when making this important choice. First of all, you keep in mind that not all colleges are accepting students in all subjects and you definitely have to check availability for your course prior to applying. Furthermore, one of the main aspects that will most probably affect your final decision is where you want to live, so be sure to consider some or all of the following points:
- Your age – Four colleges in the UK are exclusively for students aged 21 and older.
- Your gender – Three colleges in the UK accept applications from female students only.
- Size – What is the overall number of students in the college? Are you happy with that number? Do you prefer a bigger community or a smaller and more private one?
- The appearance of the college in the student accommodation could be a very important factor too.
- Maybe you are interested in particular facilities like some for certain sports or performing arts? Make sure to check that out too.
- Some students just go for their guts and apply at the college that just feels right to them. In case you believe your instinct, don’t hesitate to follow it.
So how to narrow down your choice and what’s next?
You can find a plethora of valid information about all colleges in the UK by browsing online. Do not hesitate to do that and read the profiles of the colleges so you can get a good idea of what you can expect as an overall atmosphere and what the college can offer. After all, you are trying to find the best match for your own personality and aspirations. So once you are done researching the profiles of the colleges you consider as a possible option you continue by:
- Narrowing down your choice by shortlisting around half dozen.
- Look at the colleges’ websites to get even more specific and detailed information. Also, this is the time to check out for some age- or gender-related specifics and requirements, details about features, facilities, and all other aspects you feel are very important to you.
- In case you have any questions and want to talk to someone, do not hesitate to contact the college admissions.
- You can go ahead and visit a couple of colleges that are your personal tops. Being on-site you will have the opportunity to feel the overall atmosphere, talk to the current student, admissions, and teaching staff, see for yourself what it might be to study and live there.
How not to choose a college
Of course, there is not a wrong way to choose a college as long as you find it helpful and good for you. However, some students do believe that the below mentioned ways are the best criteria for narrowing down your choice. While these factors can affect and work for many, it is not necessarily that they will work for you, so if you don’t feel them helpful and useful, make sure you are not doing the same everyone feels obligated to do.
- Application statistics – Some future students are wrongly advised that if a college attracts fewer students it automatically means that this college is not a good choice when this is not the truth at all. In addition, it is also wrong to think that if a college attracts fewer applicants it automatically means that you have higher chances of an offer.
- Travelling time – While for many students it is very important to make sure they are not wasting too much time for travelling to their campuses through the big city, keep in mind that many of the college towns are pretty compact and convenient so in most of the cases you will be able to get between your college and your department by foot.
- Age of the college – Your college experience is definitely not going to be determined by the fact how old or young your college of choice is. Each college has its own distinctiveness, traditions, and history.
- Specialisms of college fellows – This is yet another criteria that is useless when making your choice. The specialisms of college fellows will not dictate what you can study, neither it will provide you with a guarantee that you will be supervised by them. It is a common practice to attend supervisions at another college if that is where you relevant subject expert is based so no worries for that one.