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Thinking of going to university?

Research your options

Research is key to a successful application. Consider which subjects you enjoy and the type of career you would be interested in. Make sure you keep your search criteria broad to start with e.g. if you are interested in Biology, don't forget to look into Marine Biology, Zoology and so on until you find the course that's right for you.

You should spend some time thinking about the subject/course you want to study first and then think about researching which Universities offer what you are looking for. Bear in mind that although the course content and quality should be a very important factor in choosing a University there are many other things that you should consider. You will be spending a lot of time outside academic sessions and you need to make sure that you will also enjoy living and socialising in the University and the local area. 

Order a prospectus

This is a catalogue of all courses offered by the university. You can have a copy sent to you for free, or read it online on the university website.

Look carefully at the course requirements

Find out if you require specific work experience in order to build upon the skills you may already have.

Do you have to sit an entrance test or exam or will you have to provide a piece of coursework?

Will you be interviewed before you are offered a place on the course? If so, make sure you are well prepared and arrange a mock interview at your school or college before the real one. Find out as much as you can about the course and its features before you go for the interview.

Visit the University

On an Open Day prospective students can visit departments, see accommodation and the facilities on offer, talk to staff and students and get a feel for the university. Visiting the University on an open day gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have, meet the lecturers that would be teaching your course as well as learning a bit more about what life is really like as a student at the institution. You should take advantage of the student guides and ask them questions about their experiences and there are also staff available to answer queries about subjects such as accommodation, finance and student support.

These days are free of charge and are the best way of getting to know a University so make the most of them.

UCAS Personal Statement

Start your personal statement early as this is the most challenging part of the UCAS application form. It’s your opportunity to sell yourself to the university.

Don’t be afraid to contact admission tutors at university. These people will be reading your UCAS form and making a decision on your application. If you would like more information about the course then e-mail them or give them a call. Their contact details are published in the prospectus and on the university website.

Read our advice on how to draft a winning personal statement or watch our video guide.

Connect via social media & the web

Follow universities on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news, videos, blogs and photos. You can visit virtual open days on social media and the website.

See university websites and the UCAS website for a list of courses and their entry requirements. You must be eligible to study the courses before you decide to apply.

Familiarise yourself with the UCAS tariff. How many UCAS points does the course ask for? Does the course ask for a specific grade in a specific subject in order for you to be able to apply?

Other things to consider

Location, facilities and league tables are all factors to consider when deciding which university to study at.

If you’re interested in going abroad as part of your course then why not apply for a course that offers international experience. Look into the possibilities of studying or working in another country as part of your degree programme.


I found the Open Day experience to be a positive one as I talked to a few of the lecturers I realised that people come from all walks of life to come to learn.

Sandra Williams
MSc Councelling