Thinking about University
If you’re set on going to university, you’ll need to do plenty of research into the degree courses and universities on offer Don’t allow tuition fees to worry you too much, there is plenty of financial support out there that you can take advantage of. It is also worth remembering that, on average, graduates tend to get higher starting salaries and earn more over their lifetime.
Why do you want to go to university?
To study a subject further because you are interested in it?
You may wish to look for courses where the staff are experts and the department has high research ratings. Be aware that these staff may not always be available to you, particularly in your first and second year, as they will be busy with research and more advanced students. Look also at teaching quality assessments. These will let you know how your course is taught.
Also consider how much direct teaching you want. Can you learn independently? Try to find out how many hours of tuition you can expect in your subject. The less tuition you receive the more organised and self-motivating you need to be. Be realistic about yourself. If you need external motivation to make you work, or you would like regular contact with staff to check your work is going in the right direction do not choose a course with a low amount of contact time. You will normally be looking for at least 12 hours a week. Less than this and you are likely to be expected to produce a high level of work independently with minimal direction.
To gain advanced vocational qualifications?
Check the destinations of previous students on the course. Did the majority of them go into employment in the area you are considering? If you are considering a career where particular qualifications are required check that your course is acceptable. Be aware that degrees in subjects linked to the name of a career do not always provide a good route into that career. Try to find out how employers view the course.
To make yourself more employable?
Look for courses with access to work experience or sandwich placements. Try to find out the attitude of the university towards students arranging their own paid or unpaid work experience. Look for part time or voluntary work in an area that will provide the skills you need for a future career.
To have fun?
Look at what students say about the university. Find out what clubs or societies are available. Look at where the university is located. Do you want to be on a campus meeting only other students, or do you want to be in the middle of a big city with access to a range of amenities.
How to get a Degree
If you want to do a degree there are various options:
Go to university.
Study at a local Further Education College as many now offer degrees that are accredited by universities.
Study online from the comfort of your own home and in your own time.
http://www.careersoft.co.uk/sign-in – Higher Ideas is your starting point for thinking about higher education. Higher Ideas suggests lots of degree-level courses for you to consider, based on your current studies, interests, and career ambitions. You will need an access code for this. If you are in school then this can be found on posters in the library. If you are not in school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org using a St Mary’s Catholic High School email account and request the code.
www.ucas.com is the official site where you can search and apply for your degree.
www.ukcoursefinder.com – includes online questionnaire, subject search linking subjects to careers
http://university.which.co.uk provides personalised course searching and real life views about each university.
www.hotcourses.com – help with university, college and part time course choice
www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk provides league tables for universities and subjects.
http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/ includes course and university satisfaction scores along with jobs and salaries after study.
www.qaa.ac.uk – assessment reports on the standard of HE teaching
www.yougo.co.uk – students only website for anyone at university or thinking of going (UCAS subsidiary – need to register before seeing any information)
www.opendays.com – details of open days
www.nus.org.uk – information on most aspects of student life
www.cukas.ac.uk – applications to Conservatoires (Music)
www.oca-uk.com – Open College for the Arts
www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching – all routes into teaching
www.studyabroad.com – free advice for students worldwide who are considering studying abroad
www.science-engineering.net – information on studying Science, Engineering and Technology worldwide
www.studyoptions.com – information for students wanting to study in Australia and New Zealand
www.studyineurope.eu – information on studying in Europe including search facility for courses