University or college is usually the first education establishment that you get much choice in. Until this point, you might have simply attended the school closest to home. When it comes to going to university, whether straight out of school or later in life, you’ve got far more options. Of course, it might depend on your experience, education so far, qualifications, and how you perform in interviews, the choice will never be entirely yours. But, you will be able to choose where you apply, and if you are accepted to more than one school, you might face the tough task of choosing between them.
It’s a big decision, however, and getting it right can have a significant impact on your future. Going to the right school won’t just mean that you receive a good education, and gain the qualifications that you need to continue in your chosen field. It also means that you will enjoy learning, your confidence will grow, you’ll make friends and connections, and your social skills will improve. You’ll gain other skills too, you will become an independent learner, and perhaps most importantly, you will be happy and keen to learn. Get it wrong, and you’ll struggle to settle. This decision can be a real turning point in your life. So, here are some of the things that you should think about when choosing a school.
Consider Your Options
Education is much more varied than it used to be. You can study online, either part or full-time. You can take courses at a night school or study part-time around your work or family. You could take a short foundation course as an introduction to a subject if you were looking to learn something brand new. You can study academic courses, but you could also learn in a more vocational capacity. You’ve always got options, and it’s never too late to learn. So, before looking at colleges or universities, think about your options. Do you want to study full-time? Do you need to keep working? Are you in a rush, or can you take your time?
Look at Courses
If you know what you want to study, or what career you want to pursue afterward, you’ve got a great start. You might want to look at aviation degrees or other specific courses that colleges offer. The first thing you should do is find out what qualifications you need for your career, and which universities offer these courses. You should also look at related classes and other options within the field. If a university doesn’t provide a course that could allow you to follow your dreams, you can rule it out straight away.
But, we don’t all know what we want to be or what we want to study. In which case you might want to have a more general look at the courses on offer around the country. Ready prospectuses and course outlines, think about your interests, hobbies and possible careers, and try to find something that fits.
Ask Yourself Why You Want to Study
Why do you want to learn? What is your ultimate goal? Some people are looking for new career options or advancements. Others want to learn more about their hobbies and interests. Some, just love to learn. They miss school. They realize that they didn’t appreciate their education and they want to go back.
It doesn’t matter. There’s no right reason to study. But, knowing what you want to get out of it could help you to choose the right establishment.
Look at Future Options
Not all courses and schools offer the same options in the future. You don’t need to commit to anything, but it’s still a good idea to look at the possibilities. Some universities might offer further education, such as a PhD or masters once you’ve graduated. Others might offer work placements or help you to make essential connections. Some schools will put you on the right path after graduation. Others will just wave you off with your certificate.
Think About Location
If you’ve just finished school and have no other responsibilities, you might not have to worry too much about location. You might be keen to study far away from home, or even in a different country. All of which is possible, you’ll just have to think about where you would live, how you would travel home if you needed to, and where you might work if you needed a job to support yourself.
If you have got other commitments, perhaps a family or an existing career, this is more complicated. Would you be willing to uproot your family or give up a good job? Or even commute? Could you live away during term time and see your family less? Or, would you prefer to stay at home? Location is perhaps our most significant consideration when choosing a school.
Compare Financial Options
Cost is another big consideration when deciding on the right school. You might think that all schools charge the same, but this isn’t true. Some courses are cheaper. Others offer more flexible payment plans. Studying online can be more flexible financially, and part-time study means spreading the cost as well as the content. Some schools might offer different scholarships, and studying abroad might mean that you are eligible for different financial support. Explore all of these options to find one that suits you.
Take a Deeper Look at Course Content
If you’ve narrowed it down to a few schools that offer the same course, it’s time to look at the course content. Look at the modules on offer and the specifics of what you will learn. You might also want to look at how you will be assessed and who will be teaching you.
What Societies and Support are On Offer?
University isn’t all about the classes. The social side is often just as important. Look at what societies are on offer, and how you might spend your spare time. Extracurricular activities are often what sets CVs apart, so see what’s available. Support is also key. You want a school that offers you what you need. Look at support staff and groups, as well as healthcare and mental health services.