Looking at universities, part one

Hello again – this post (suggested by the title) is a guide to picking universities, but I’m also posting to say that I got my freshers pack! Haven’t looked through it thoroughly yet, but I’m delighted and it looks like there’s a heck of a lot going to be on. I’ll probably post about it after this guide (and also when I get my medic specific one, but for now here’s some of my -hopefully somewhat useful – advice for applicants! I hope going back to school isn’t too bad for you; I’m not leaving until the 1st, and I only properly start work on the 10th, which is odd, though from comparison Dundee starts term earlier than other universities.

As said above, the focus of this post is going to be choosing universities – it will be split into two posts, as otherwise it would be massive! Most applicants start thinking about university pre-summer holidays, as this is when the first round of open days are. Even so, plenty people (including myself) I knew at school and who are now happily preparing for a wide variety of courses hadn’t signed up to any visit days, looked at any uni websites or could even locate a university town on the map at this point, so fear not.

Assuming you have the required grades for it, you probably want to start looking at what universities offer your chosen course. This is particularly relevant for courses such as medicine (where only five scottish universities have a medical school) and vet med (only two!), as well as very specific, smaller courses – my boyfriend went down to do horology at Birmingham City, as it’s the only uni that offers it in the UK.

Of course, deciding what universities you’re interested in also depends on the location of the uni. You may save on cash attending your local college or uni and living at home, you could miss out on some of the social aspects of living in the thick of it and trying a new city. I know a lot of my friends, however, are choosing to stay at home because they’re worried they can’t afford or cope with moving out or possible homesickness – which is fine! Not everyone wants to move out at the same time! Heck, sometimes I wonder if I’m ready to, still being completely clueless about the washing machine.

Each university is different, and come in all shapes and sizes. Do you want a large city campus, which might be more diverse in terms of interests and of people, or would you prefer a smaller university, where you could get to know your fellow students better? Although Edinburgh is a beautiful city, I wasn’t fond of how spread out the campus was, or isolated each school was from one another – conversely, I guessed that Saint Andrews wouldn’t have enough variety to keep me amused. For me, Dundee has everything I need close together, and I feel that I stand a better chance of getting to know people from outside my course, while having the social benefits of a larger city.

Also for consideration is the reputation of a university, though the importance of this is personal – if it’s where you want to study, and it gives you what you want from higher education, then there’s no need to pay attention to league tables; everyone is looking for different things in a uni. That said, looking at student satisfaction surveys can throw up options and considerations you never thought of – I hadn’t seriously considered Dundee before reading up on some of the praise it was getting (and still is), but it made me look up the visit day – and here I am with my freshers pack!


Now, I have some reading of previously mentioned pack to get done, so I’ll leave it here. Will post the second part soon!