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How to choose a university?

(42 Posts)
Celeriacacaca Sat 11-May-19 14:36:37

DS (year 12) may, or may not, go to university (he may go into an industry apprenticeship instead) but we are looking around now so that he has options when the time comes. DH and I were not educated in this country nor go to Uni here so please could you give me pointers regarding what to look for, what to ask etc when we visit? Assume I know nothing!

We're going to the summer shows for one uni in a fortnight, and are being given a tour and visit to the relevant departments, i.e. won't be there on an open day so I imagine will have more opportunity to ask questions. Thanks for your help.

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titchy Sat 11-May-19 14:54:13

Ok - things to consider:

Location - within an hour of home/ 2-3 hours away/ 8 hours away.

Entry requirements - aim for ones with similar to expected grades, include one slightly higher and a backup lower. No point looking at places with 3 x A offers when 3 x D expected.

City/town/rural location. What suits dc? Do they need decent nightlife?

Campus uni or one where everything spread out over several locations.

Subject - league table position, reputation, opportunity for placement year/ year abroad. Industry links.

That should give you the basis of a shortlist - then visit! Open days are this term and next. Applications open in September.

pyramidbutterflyfish Sat 11-May-19 15:01:14

Reputation, reputation, reputation

AtiaoftheJulii Sat 11-May-19 15:45:22

It's attitudes like pyramid's that contribute to the high drop out rates at some universities!

Your ds has to live there, and get through the course.

Mine went by course details, location, and then looked at the best ranked (trying to go by factual rankings rather than just reputation!) within their filtered list.

Celeriacacaca Sat 11-May-19 15:48:16

Really useful thanks all.

So for rankings/league tables - what's the best source for information please?

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LIZS Sat 11-May-19 15:53:58

You can't just look at uni level, each course and faculty has a different ranking and reputation and this may be more relevant for certain subjects. Student satisfaction and employability are important. Some students prefer campus, others city. Some have a higher proportion of on site accommodation, guarantee a place in hall for freshers but not necessarily beyond. Some have links to placements or partner unis which can enhance the degree experience and opportunities for internships and future employment. Low enrolments and poor reputations may mean staff retention is low and that some modules or even degree options may not be available.

AnnaComnena Sat 11-May-19 16:00:59

Look at the course details. How it's structured, choice of modules, assessment methods, reading lists. Most universities have that info online, or should be willing to supply it to someone who is serious!y considering applying. See how it all fits in with DS's interests.

Location, reputation, entry requirements, mean nothing if the course is wrong for your ds.

floraloctopus Sat 11-May-19 16:01:57

Placemarking with interest. DS holds offers from Birmingham, Warwick and Gloucester and is struggling to choose. He will be staying at home to live (his choice) so the accommodation isn't an issue and can't make a decision.

SilentSister Sat 11-May-19 16:10:00

Location, reputation, entry requirements, mean nothing if the course is wrong for your ds

Was coming on to say the same thing. Course choice should always come first. Even the same course title ie: History, will be incredibly different at each university. Each Uni has slightly different course content, and your DS needs to look up each one to see which fits his particular area of interests. No point going to a fabulous reputation, great locality, if he feels bored rigid for three/four years.

AnnaComnena Sat 11-May-19 16:48:30

Even the same course title ie: History, will be incredibly different at each university.

Yes. History is my subject. When I was at that stage, there was one university I would have liked to apply to, because I liked the city, but didn't because I really didn't like the way the course was structured. If someone's interest is in economic history, s/he shouldn't apply for a course that's heavy on politics, just because it has a good reputation.

titchy Sat 11-May-19 16:49:43

DS holds offers from Birmingham, Warwick and Gloucester

Blimey - Gloucester's not exactly the same league as the other two! Ditch that one!

MarchingFrogs Sat 11-May-19 16:59:32

Reputation, reputation, reputation

So Oxford or Cambridge (he can only apply to one or the other) / Durham / LSE / Imperial / Bristol / UCL / Exeter. It doesn't matter if none of those actually offers what he wants to study, he should just apply for something that they do offer. Simples.

Or do it the way that he really should, which is what everyone else is advising. Including myself (please excuse my flippancysmile).

OP, when you say 'summer show', is your DS looking to study something 'creative'?

Celeriacacaca Sat 11-May-19 17:05:35

Thanks again, this is really helpful.

Yes, it's a creative subject he's looking at doing which is relatively new because of the technology. It's offered in a number of uni's but there are only two serious contenders that he's identified. The others have only just started offering it and, to me, have jumped on the bandwagon and don't really support the course as well as elsewhere does.

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mollysshadow Sat 11-May-19 17:05:43

Go to open days, the ucas website has details. My ds completely changed his mind after going on visits.

AnnaComnena Sat 11-May-19 17:37:20

It's offered in a number of uni's but there are only two serious contenders that he's identified.

In that case, I'd look at those two courses side by side, in detail, and see which is the best fit for him. Also look at the website to see who the tutors/lecturers are, and see if they have any publications he can get hold of. (Bearing in mind lecturers might move on, so he shouldn't base his decision entirely on wanting to work with one particular person.)

I did my MA in a fairly unexciting city, which I would never otherwise have chosen to go to, but the university was unquestionably the leader in that particular subject area, so it was the right choice for me.

UCOinanOCG Sat 11-May-19 17:38:17

If you tell us the course subject he is keen on and the possible locations we could help you based on local or personal knowledge?

MarchingFrogs Sat 11-May-19 17:40:42

Yes, it's a creative subject he's looking at doing which is relatively new because of the technology. It's offered in a number of uni's but there are only two serious contenders that he's identified.

Ooh, now I'm properly intrigued...

I am also hazarding a guess that the universities concerned may not necessarily feature on the usual list of universities MN mummies should allow their DC to go to, but I may be completely wrong and it actually is Oxford and Durham you're referring to, of course.

Would also second visiting where at all possible. DD knocked two theoretically suitable universities off her list in one weekend; she realised when looking at the second, a non-campus university, that she really wanted a campus set-up, just not the particular csmpus university which was the first.

yearinyearout Sat 11-May-19 17:45:33

floraloctopus I was about to say what Titchy has just said, Birmingham and Warwick are in a different league to Gloucester. Is Gloucester his safety net choice?

floraloctopus Sat 11-May-19 17:48:30

Blimey - Gloucester's not exactly the same league as the other two! Ditch that one!

Gloucester was his 5th choice to make up the numbers. He's still waiting to hear from his other two - Bristol and Cardiff.

titchy Sat 11-May-19 17:51:14

Blimey poor show from Cardiff and Bristol making him wait so close to the deadline angry

damekindness Sat 11-May-19 17:51:30

If he's considering a vocational course in health/medicine/social care don't worry about reputation as on graduation they get snapped up with several job offers from both prestigious and less prestigious employers

titchy Sat 11-May-19 17:52:10

He is aware he will have a very short timeframe to decide isn't he?

MarchingFrogs Sat 11-May-19 18:23:30

If he applied on time, the universities have until May 2nd to give their responses. And assuming that they do, he has until June 6th to respond. So 5 weeks.

www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/types-offer/replying-your-ucas-undergraduate-offers

If you receive your last decision on or before31 March 2019, your reply date is1May 2019(if your postal address is in the EU)

If you receive your last decision on or before 2May 2019, your reply date is6 June 2019(includes applicants with a postal address outside the EU, but not applicants using Extra to find a place).

If you receive your last decision on or before6 June 2019, your reply date is20June 2019(except if you're using Extra to find a place).

If you receive your last decision on or before11July 2019, your reply date is18July 2019(including Extra choices).

Celeriacacaca Sat 11-May-19 18:39:31

Marching - it's visual effects aka vfx which is why he may go into an apprenticeship rather than uni. So yes, not the trad Mumsnet approved route wink. We've had some interesting reactions from people we know who can't comprehend not going via one of the "approved" routes!!

School advice, and research, has narrowed uni options to Bournemouth Uni of Arts and Falmouth. Both seem to have good rep and industry connections too.

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Celeriacacaca Sat 11-May-19 18:41:09

Marching, also meant to say that's interesting to hear your dds thoughts after visiting the unis.

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