As a year has gone by since I started writing these blogs, there are probably a new bunch of you reading who are starting to look around different universities. It doesn’t feel at all long ago that I was. I remember doing a road trip around the midlands for two days with my parents-covering Leicester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool university. I thought I would try and give some suggestions on what to do and thing about when looking around universities.
1) Ask questions to ambassadors. Ask about things that you might not find out about in the prospectus, for instance- the cost of living in that area/ how much the sports facilities are/ what the community is like / what made them choose that university etc. I have found that it is so much better to hear first-hand experiences, as whilst prospectuses do cover broad areas, they can’t tell you everything that might matter to you individually.
2) Think about the area. Is it close enough to home (or far enough away in some cases 😉 )? Does it have what you want in a town? Can you picture yourself living there. This was something very important for me and when I arrived in Leicester, I really loved the city and could picture myself sitting in Victoria Park in the summer, or shopping in the town. Leicester was also close enough to go home when I needed to but far enough away that it was different and unique to London. I probably place a bit too much emphasis on gut-feeling but it is important that the location appeals to you and you can imagine yourself there.
3)Read the details about your course. For instance, in Psychology, there are huge differences in the modules across different universities. Maybe have a little research into the lecturers who teach there and what their specialisms are, as this will reflect what they are passionate about and, I assure you, this definitely comes across in their teaching. If you know that you are interested in a particular area, see how much this is covered in the syllabus compared to other universities or if you go to a department meeting on an open day, ask about your interests 🙂
4) Write up your feelings about your visit on the same evening. You can easily forget important things you found out about otherwise which becomes difficult when you are trying to decide where to apply. Perhaps rate certain things (such as accommodation/facilities/distance from home/course) so that when you come back to look at your notes, you know what things about different universities stood out to you and can then assess what your priorities are.
Anyway, hope this has helped a little bit. It’s a daunting time applying to universities but ask lots of questions on open days and it will make it a lot easier to work out which ones are more suited to you. Also, in terms of Leicester in particular, fire away on here, no matter how trivial you think the question may be.