Choosing where you want to go to uni isn’t like picking a Saturday night takeaway – it’s a pretty big deal. Like it or not, where (and what) you end up studying will play a huge role in shaping your career, what you’re into, who your friends are where you may end up living. Feeling the pressure yet? It’d be weird if you didn’t.
Fortunately, deciding which university you’d like to go to isn’t a choice you’ve got to make alone. It might be your call at the end of the day, but you should also ensure you get all the advice you can from your family, friends and professionals to make an informed decision about which uni is right for you.
So, who should you go to advice for when trying to settle on a university? And more important still, what sort of questions should you be asking them?
Your family might embarrass you to the point of exhaustion, but they only pester you because they care – and your progression to university will take the intrusive embarrassment you’re always trying to avoid and kick it up to a whole new level.
It’s totally understandable. What do you expect? After all, they’ve loved you and looked after you for your entire life. All of a sudden, you’re about to fly the coop, and they’re going to be incredibly worried about you.
‘What will you eat? Where will you sleep? Who will you be hanging out with? Will you cope with washing?’ The list of worries goes on and on.
But the best way to prevent them from worrying is by allowing them to get involved in your decision – and believe it or not, they can help you out quite a lot when it comes to making the right choice.
Whether your parents, guardians or family have been to uni or not, they’ve been around the block more than once. They’ll want to quiz you on career prospects, and find out if your heart is really in the courses you may be considering. They’ll bring up the logistics of travel, part-time work and the distance away from home you’re planning to go.
These are all crucial things you should consider in your choice of uni, and so don’t blow off their questions. Engage with your family and be honest – even if it makes for an awkward conversation.
Ask your family members about their experiences at university, or if they have any regrets about not going to uni. Ask them what activities they did, whether they enjoyed staying in halls, the city they picked or how the degree they ended up with shaped their lives. These chats will be particularly useful if you’re not quite sure what you’d like to study at uni, as your family might be able to help you channel your interests into a potential career trajectory.
You may not have the same experiences or the same opinions as your parents or loved ones, but you should take your family’s advice on board. They love you, and they want to see you succeed. Let them.
You should definitely keep your pals in the loop when you’re trying to choose where to go to university. After all, your friends will want what’s best for you, and they probably know you better than just about everybody on the planet.
It’s worth bearing in mind that you might have way different interests than a lot of your friends – and so you might not ultimately gravitate towards the same courses or the same types of institutions. Don’t get peer pressured into thinking that just because your best mate wants to study at a uni in one part of the country, you should want to do the same thing.
That being said, your friends are going to be a crucial support base throughout the decision-making process. You guys might be headed on different paths with very different unis in mind – but you’re all going through the same tricky journey. Why not go through that journey together?
Ask your friends questions about where they’re considering and why. Do research with each other on uni contenders, and volunteer to accompany each other to open days (even if it’s a course or a university you’re not so keen on). Be supportive, and your friends will be supportive back to you. You may not end up at the same universities, but you’re in this together – and you’ll always have each other, no matter what happens.
University staff aren’t dodgy sales people, and they’re not trying to back you into a corner. The recruitment teams at each university want to do their absolute best in order to help you make an informed decision about your future, and they 100% do not want to convince you to go somewhere you wouldn’t like to go and study something you aren’t all that keen on.
Just like your friends and your family, universities want you to find where you belong and help you to succeed. But unlike your mum and dad or your best mates, university staff aren’t going to be hounding you relentlessly. If you want sound and well-informed study advice from higher education professionals, you’re going to need to go to them.
That could mean arranging some visits to uni campuses to attend an open day and meet support staff. But if you can’t wait, just get in touch. University recruitment teams are always there on standby to help you out – that’s literally their job, so if you’ve got a question, all you need to do is ask.
They’ll be able to advise you on various types of courses, subjects that might interest you based on your current studies, the grades you might need, student life, the local area and everything in between.
If you’re considering the University of Stirling, you can ask us a question anytime online. We’re also got a range of dedicated teams within the University to help mature students, students with disabilities, care experienced young people, international students and so much more. If in doubt, don’t hesitate. Just get in touch.
You’re going to have a lot of people in your life who want what’s best for you. They’ll be desperate to help you out as much as they possibly can, and so you should engage with them and ask them what they think. Involve them in the university choice process as much as you can, take on board their advice and carefully weight their opinions.
But just remember: this decision is yours to make – and at the end of the day, you’ll know what feels right for you.