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 Post subject: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:49 pm
Posts: 353
Hi,

What things should you consider when choosing a uni?

Are there any real benefits of going to a Russell group university? Is it better to pick a uni with a Gold TEF rating than a Russell group university with a silver rating? How much importance should be given to the student satisfaction surveys?

Just need some help to decide which universities to visit when we can...


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 6800
Location: Reading
I sort of left this to DD. She ended up with a spreadsheet.

She looked at things like whether they offered a placement year. Also employment stats and student satisfaction ratings. RG didn’t feature in her mind set (one of the top three unis for the subject isn’t an RG, and another one very high up the list isnt either). She also looked at the surrounding areas where possible.

Course modules and options are also a factor.

It’s worth looking at the various ‘league tables’ as a possible guide, but to be used as that, a guide. Make sure you are aware of what the scoring is based on as they all have different things that they deem important.

DD was also sure she wanted a campus uni. She didn’t want to go too far either. That ruled out Scotland and (sadly since I would like more excuses to go back to Yorkshire) northern England.

Obviously you also need to look at typical grade offers etc and how that matches up with expectations. DDs school suggested having an aspirational choice, a couple of realistic ones and a couple of safe bets. it was a suggestion not a definite rule, but something DD went for.

Be prepared for complete changes of mind during the process. Some unis impressed DD with their communication and organisation during the application process and others didn’t. One didn't give out offers until late March, and by that time DD had sort of given up with them. (They were one of the top ones too). By that point she had no opportunity to go and have a look again as COVID had hit.

If it’s a subject that has a professional body like engineering etc, then make sure the course is accredited.


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:45 am
Posts: 257
Location: Kingston upon Thames
Tinkers has given very wise words.

We let our DD choose, having chosen the subject, went through accreditation list and had about 15 potential choices, handful went as too far.

We used various surveys and summarised on a spreadsheet, we used the by subject/department filter as trying to appraise the relevant faculty/course and the overall university score will be an average including departments that are irrelevant to your choice.

In my view it is better to go for highly rated department in a upper mid rated university than go to a below average department in a highly rated university. If the department is well rated, it must be teaching better, or staff more approachable, etc

A lot will come down to a gut feeling, do they like campus, do students seem happy, is the accommodation reasonably nice, how light and airy are snack bars, study areas etc. Only really be able to do this with a real (not virtual) visit. If something doesn’t gel, then scrub it from shortlist (child has to be happy there). However much a parent may like it you aren’t the one going to be living there so don’t try and override your child’s preferences.

Depending on where you live, and what you are use to size may be a thing. Our DD went to one uni and decided it was too big and crowded, but no doubt others crave the bustle.


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 16224
RG unis are irrelevant for many degrees and some great unis aren't RG. Remember RG is just a self-selected group that prioritises research which does mean teaching undergrads is not always a high priority!

Look at:
* the course modules
* assessment [ balance of exams and coursework]
* location [large city/small city/rural]
* campus/non-campus
* accommodation [catered/self-catered] - if you are doing something like Engineering then you may prefer not to cook as you will be in lectures and workshops for 30+ hours a week. Do you have to clear your room at the end of each term/semester? [Quite a shock if you find you do]


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:44 pm
Posts: 30
Totally confused here, planned for open days/visits and none happened, have no clue what to select or chose? If we tell anything then its our opinion, is it fair?


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
Posts: 10242
Location: Essex
hwood wrote:
Totally confused here, planned for open days/visits and none happened, have no clue what to select or chose? If we tell anything then its our opinion, is it fair?


What year is your DC in? All the universities' open days are 'virtual' now - your DC should have seen this if they have been researching options online. A lot had virtual events last term or in the early part of the holidays, but most will be doing them again soon. Off the top of my head, Bristol's next one is the week of the 14th - some do different days for the subject specific bits, with more general sessions on several days. Warwick's last term was slightly odd in that the ones for DS2's subject were themselves split between several days.

Most of the university events include some kind of virtual campus tour, although the Sussex one turned out to be a talk and not even a description of the campus, which was a bit odd, but we had actually visited when DD looked around.

You can perhaps do a few day trips at the weekends, at least to have a look around the general area of various universities, even if actual campus visits ate off at the moment? Students do have to actually live in the 'real world' of a university, not just an academic bubble :).

Also look on YouTube- lots of quite good student videos on there.

We have visited quite a lot of universities and their locales, so I'm happy to try to help, if I've been anywhere your DC is interested in?

_________________
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:44 pm
Posts: 30
Started Yr13 now, she is struggling with the personal statement and they sent this ucas link to start applying


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:41 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:00 pm
Posts: 8001
Location: Surrey
UCAS has October deadline for Medicine and Oxbridge.
Others have January deadline.


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
Posts: 6722
15th October is deadline for Oxbridge, Medicine, Veterinary and Dentistry. Other courses have a deadline of 15th Jan - if you want to be given equal consideration (which I would advise!)

In practise, most schools ask for 1st draft PS’s on the pupils return to school in September as they need time to get these spick and span and references written - and don’t like to submit them very close to the deadline. It also allows students to focus on their studies/mock exams which often occur around Christmas.

Tell your daughter to have a conversation with her referee so they know where she is at. It is perfectly OK not to apply to uni this year - and a lot more Y13s will be doing just this as the situation with universities is less sure currently.


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 Post subject: Re: How to choose a uni?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
Posts: 10242
Location: Essex
hwood wrote:
Started Yr13 now, she is struggling with the personal statement and they sent this ucas link to start applying


What is your DD applying for? Does she have some idea whether she would be happier with a 'proper' campus university?
e.g. Sussex / UEA / Warwick / Kent / Keele / Loughborough / Bath / York / Lancaster

Or a true 'City' university?
e.g. Bristol / Liverpool / Manchester/ Durham / Cardiff / Oxford / Cambridge / de Montfort / Edinburgh / Newcastle / Northumbria

Or sort of both?
e.g. Leeds / Leicester / Southampton / Exeter (the Streatham campus is a proper campus, but the city of Exeter is not very big, so it isn't really 'detached').

Seaside?
e.g. Swansea / Aberystwyth / St Andrews (sort of) / Brighton

Which universities have her friends looked at (some of them must have seen some of the virtual open days between them, surely?)? Does she engage at all with TSR? (https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk, loads of helpful stuff on there re every UK university).

As KCG says, though, there is no huge need to go straight from leaving school - and if your DD really doesn't have a clue with regard to where she might want to apply, then taking time to have a good think about courses, visit / 'visit' as many places as she can and apply for 2022 entry with achieved grades might be the sensible way to go.

(Unless she is applying for Maths, in which case, a gap year is not usually considered desirable, on the use it or lose it principle).

_________________
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx


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