Trying to figure out where you’d like to go to uni is a huge decision – in fact, it could end up turning out to be one of the hardest choices you’ve ever had to make. After all, the time you spend at university will play a huge role in helping you to become the person you’d like to be. That means where you study could have a major influence on your future career, where you live, the opportunities that are open to you and so much more.

Translation: you really don’t want to mess this up.

That’s why you should start your hunt for the perfect uni by coming up with a wish list of all the things you’re looking for in a university. It could be a green campus, flexible degree choices, a great reputation for teaching, a welcoming community atmosphere or anything in between.

But if you’re having trouble coming up with a list of things you think should play a role in developing a shortlist, you might find it easier to first consider all of the things that probably shouldn’t influence your decision.

To help you get started, we’ve come up with a list of some of the wrong ways to make a choice on your future university.

1. Go with the pack

Your existing friends are going to be a huge part of your life, and the idea of shipping off to the other side of the country and leaving them all behind might seem pretty daunting. That’s why it often feels easier to go with the pack and just limit your uni search to the institutions in the near vicinity or just the ones your friends are considering.

But you can’t let a fear of the unknown or that peer pressure prevent you from realising your true potential.

Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t write off a fantastic university just because it’s not one that all of your high school friends are considering. This is your time to branch out, discover new opportunities and have your own adventure. Your true friends will understand that, they’ll support your decision and will be ready to pick up right where you left off to hang out at the end of each semester.

2. Focus on nightlife

Let’s not kid ourselves, here: uni is a whole lot of fun. It’s your chance to get a huge dose of independence, mingle with all sorts of new people and discover great nightlife opportunities. But just because one particular uni has got a wild reputation for nightlife doesn’t mean it should automatically float to the top of your shortlist.

A lot of us love going out every once in a while and blowing off some steam – the City of Stirling has some incredible pubs, clubs and music venues for you to dance away into the wee hours. We’re not saying nightlife can’t be a consideration at all. But at the end of the day, uni is about a whole lot more than just a great night out.

Think about it: do you really want to spend three-to-four years working on a subpar degree in a subject you’re unsure about just so you can go clubbing every night? You’ve got to prioritise, and no matter how much you adore going out, nightlife should definitely be towards the bottom half of your list.

You and your new uni mates will manage to have plenty of incredible nights you’ll never forget – no matter what the city centre is like after dark.

3. Ignore fees and funding

This is a big one, and it’s something way too many students ignore. When you’re shopping around at different unis in Scotland, the UK and abroad, you need to consider costs. Tuition fees vary for different courses, and they vary by institution, region and country of residence.

The vast majority of UK students will be eligible to apply for student finance opportunities, but you need to make yourself aware of potential tuition fee requirements, the cost of living in a particular university town, part-time work opportunities and everything in between.

You should also find out about any scholarship opportunities you may be eligible for and bear those scholarships in mind when trying to come up with a list of your top uni contenders. After all, you probably don’t want to spend any longer paying off student loans or bugging your parents for cash than you have to – so work cost into the equation from the start of your decision-making process.

You absolutely will not regret it.

PS. If you’re considering the University of Stirling, we’ve got loads of scholarships available for students coming to us from a wide range of backgrounds and countries. Use our Scholarship Finder now.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are loads of other things we wouldn’t recommend you think too hard about when choosing a university. Likewise, there’s plenty you should bear in mind. Just remember that this is your decision. Listen to the people who are important in your life, do your research and ask lots of questions – but at the end of the day, you’ve got to trust your instincts on this one.

If you do need help getting started fact-finding, check out our blog on How to Choose a Course at University, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re looking for advice on what you should consider when shortlisting unis.

We’re always here to help, and our team will do our best to steer you in the right direction.