"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation." -Robert H. Schuller

Would you travel to the Amazon Rainforest without mosquito repellent? Would you embark on a lengthy road trip without putting petrol in your vehicle? Would you board a plane without having packed a suitcase? Most likely not. Why's that? Well, to fully enjoy an experience to the best of our abilities, preparation is needed.

Preparing ahead of time provides us with peace of mind and a sense of safety knowing that we will be equipped for whatever life throws at us. 

Though it is not always fun to prepare things and some of us would prefer to make spontaneous decisions on a whim, it is essential to state that a successful life is the result of good preparation. For major life events such as attending university, getting married, welcoming a child, buying a home, and retirement to be successful, a lot of preparation is required.

Therefore, without further delay, in today's article, we shall focus our attention on how individuals of all ages can be prepared by knowing what they must consider when choosing a university in the UK.

How Far is the University From My Home?

In the last two years of secondary school when your test results really start to count and academic advisors provide guidance about the various available options for further education programmes, a pupil needs to start thinking about which university they would like to attend.

Since there are hundreds of higher education centres in the UK, it is best to widen-down the search to only a few options in the last year of high school since that will help you answer the question, how far is the university from my place of residence?

Why is the aforementioned question important? Well, knowing the location and, the overall distance, of the uni campus from your house helps you adequately plan things the following things:

  • Knowing if you need a car,
  • Determining the means of public transport, 
  • If it's better for you to commute from your parents or find a place on campus.

While the quality of programmes offered and admission will determine whether or not you will attend a certain university, it is very wise to analyse the location and if it will be convenient for you.

It's important to bear in mind that travelling long distances every day to get to classes is not sustainable. Why? With so many exams, lectures, coursework, etc., driving yourself or taking public transport every day will actually waste valuable time that you should have dedicated to studying. Also, those who take on much more than they can chew in their first are most likely to burn themselves out.

Remember, location is everything and it will set you off on the right path of academic victory.

What are the Potential Options for Accommodation?

living at uni
University dorm rooms are not the most comfortable but they are convenient and have everything you need. (Source: Unsplash)

Finally, if you decide that seeking accommodation on-site is the best choice for your specific situation, have you considered your options? With most students having limited resources and wanting to save as much money as possible to avoid using precious study time for work, the best course of action for housing is often dorms or shared apartments.

On-site dormitories and off-campus housing are both fantastic options that will greatly depend on if they are available at the uni in question and your personal preferences. 

The following list highlights the pros and cons of accommodating yourself in uni dorms:

  • Pros: there are no worries about having to find an apartment since you will always be guaranteed to find a dorm to share on campus. Also, living on campus is the best way to ensure that you aren't late for any classes since its location is convenient. And, last but not least, living on-site in a dormitory is a fantastic opportunity to get the full college experience.
  • Cons: because of their convenience, dorms at UK universities are usually quite expensive for what you actually get in comparison to off-campus apartments. When there are parties or rowdy residents in the dorms, it is almost impossible to concentrate on studying. Also, if you live in a dorm room, it's close quarters and you often have to share bathroom facilities with others.

Now, what about the benefits and drawbacks of renting an apartment near the university campus? Read this list to determine the pros and cons:

  • Advantages: when you split the costs with a flatmate, having an off-site apartment is much more affordable than a dorm room. Also, by having your own place, there is a lot more privacy than living with a bunch of blokes in a small space. And, by having your own place, you can have all the socialising events you want and be known as the party pad!
  • Disadvantages: leasing an apartment is a major responsibility and since it is not managed by the university, students are in charge of their own expenses such as electricity, water, gas, internet, etc. Sometimes the prices of utilities might cost more than expected and a dorm could end up being more affordable. Also, it is important to consider the fact that it could be difficult to find a landlord that wants to rent a flat to immature uni students.

All in all, it is very smart to consider your options for accommodation before selecting a university. Another important aspect is knowing the city in which the further education centre is located; that sometimes seals the deal and brings us to our next subheading!

What's the City/Town Like Where Uni is Located?

choosing a uni
University campuses can either be in small towns or large cities. However, it is best to visit the location before classes start. (Source: Unsplash)

While the majority of significant UK-based universities are situated in well-known cities, there is a large number of further education centres that have their campuses in smaller towns and cities. Therefore, students can decide if they want to enjoy the university experience in a populous city or the countryside.

However, since lesser-known cities and towns might not be familiar to all students, we highly recommend taking a road trip from your place of residence to explore what your future university town has to offer.

In many countries, especially the US, the practice of visiting different universities before making a choice is extremely popular. Before enrollment and application deadlines, college road trips are a brilliant opportunity to get a feel for the campus and its surroundings. We greatly suggest that students analyse the following things when visiting a university town:

  • The campus,
  • The library,
  • Off-site study locations such as coffee shops,
  • The food options available,
  • Apartments and rooms for rent near uni,
  • Recreation centres for activities when you need a break from studying,
  • Outdoor hiking paths, cycling lanes, and neighbouring parks.

To make the search for the perfect university town in the UK more accessible, we think that having a checklist with your "must-haves" is a wonderful plan. Also, don't get swept away by the first option you visit, tour multiple universities before making a decision and weigh the pros and the cons.

Which Undergraduate Courses are Available?

In the last two years of secondary school while taking GSCE or A-Level exams and through the assistance of guidance counsellors, a student becomes more aware of their interests and which academic degree they would like to study at uni.

So, when you have decided upon a field of study that you wish to acquire, you must find a university that offers courses in that sector since it would be a waste of time to continue to fantasize about your dream school after knowing there are lessons offered in what you want to learn.

Also, it's important to state, that there are some unis that are best-known for an academic discipline. For instance, the London School of Economics and Political Science is for individuals who want to study business, finance, and politics.

Selecting three to five further education centres that have great reviews from past students in undergraduate courses that discuss your desire field of expertise is a great way to narrow down the list and ask specific questions about the programmes before sending out applications.

Asking past graduates, professors, and fellow students about what they think of the courses offered at the unis your thinking of attending helps you to make an educated decision.

How Much Money Do I Need for Tuition, Expenses, and Books?

knowing the expenses
Uni is expensive; therefore, it is best to save a long time before classes start. (Source: Unsplash)

Before even attending university, it is wise to have a ballpark figure of the amount that you will need to save for everything. It is highly recommended to ask yourself the following questions to prepare:

  • How much is tuition per semester?
  • How much should I allocate for books and course expenses?
  • How much money will my accommodations cost per month?
  • How much cash should I put aside for groceries and food each week?
  • What about utilities, internet, and mobile phone costs?
  • Are there any transportation costs?

By asking yourself all of the previously mentioned questions and finding the answers you are preparing for success and you won't be affected by last-minute surprises. Asking persons who have already been through university is a great idea to plan a budget and get their expert advice.

Nonetheless, according to recent statistics, it is useful to know that English universities can charge up to £9,250 per year for an undergraduate programme. Also, after the end of a three year Bachelor's degree, approximately £14,700 is a reasonable estimate to have paid in rent money. The price of books greatly depends on which type of degree you are studying; could be £50-250 per year.

Also, it is important to state that if you have plans to attend the most prestigious universities, in and around the UK, overall costs are more expensive.

In conclusion, we sincerely hope that all of the information in today's article has given our readers a more realistic idea of what needs to be prepared for before attending uni. Let the preparation begin!

 

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.