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Choosing the Right University

By Ciara Griffiths

I am currently at Royal Holloway reading Philosophy, but I did not always anticipate Holloway. I had thoughts of other Universities when I started looking; But in the end, my gut was set at Royal Holloway. It feels like only yesterday I was moving into Holloway for the first time, starting my university journey. I would now like to offer some advice to anyone who is beginning the journey I began back in 2020. I make no claim to offering magical words that will make the decision for you, but I hope this advice will be useful. After all, university is (typically) three to four years of your life. It’s important the decision you make is right.

Be Realistic

At the beginning of the process of choosing your university choices, think about whether you want to study close or far from home. Do you want to study abroad? Do you want a campus university or a city university? As a visually impaired person, I knew a campus university would be easier to navigate, but that is only my preference. This decision will narrow down your choices

The Course

Knowing what you want to study is just as important as knowing where you want to study it. The difference between GCSE and A-Level is that at university, you get to study what you are most passionate about. I mentioned previously about the duration of your studies, so it is important you choose to study what you are passionate about; it’s not worth spending three to four years or more studying something you hate. Of course, university is challenging, and the level of independent work expected of you differs from A-Level, but believe me, you will make it much easier for yourself by studying a passion. Once you know what you want to study, start researching the universities that offer the best programmes for that course.   

The Disability Service

It is important to research beforehand whether the university you are considering has a good disability service. Research is vital. To give an example, I had my heart set on a certain university (I will not name it). Through research, I discovered that the disability service was appalling and there had been many complaints. I am glad I found that out before registering for an open day. When you attend the open day, speak to the disability service. This may also be connected to the dyslexia or wellbeing services.  In the open day, the service may have students at their stand who can speak to you about their personal experience. A later blog will focus on the application process as disabled student.

The Open Day

Research can only tell you so much. I cannot stress the importance of the open day enough. Seeing the campus, the facilities, the accommodation and the surrounding area will give you the best idea of the university. You will get to meet the students, the professors, and fellow applicants. You will get to ask burning questions, and make sure you ask everything you want to ask while you are there.

After this, the decision is yours and yours alone. Take every point I have made into account. Is the location what you want? Is the course and the disability service good? Were you pleased with what you saw at the open day? But most of all, do you think you will be happy at this university? If the answer to all those questions is yes, then you have found the right university.