Happy half term all you lucky monkeys still in school!! Long-time no speak I knowww but ALAS third year of dental school hit me hard like a sack of potatoes. Right in the noggin. I shall tell you allll the gossip next week because so far this year has been crazy eventful.
Most third years would be nervous and excited about the end of their course looming near…but for us, we’ve just hit half-way! Sometimes I feel like when I qualify I shall be a grandmother…a happy, wrinkled old lady dentist with arthritis and mild memory loss. Then I realize that I’m only 20 and I have melodrama embedded in my bones so I allow it and plod along. For some of you cuties though, you’ve just hit you’re A levels and the prospect of making your Uni decisions are giving you the heeby jeebies! With the aid of some nostalgic flashbacks I have written a quick guide that may help you with those all-important choices. So, without further ado…
The guide to finding the University that’s right for you.
Choosing a university is kind of like choosing a killer pair of sneakers. They have to look fabulous, make you feel fabulous, and take you places. It’s probably one of the most daunting and exciting decisions you’ll make in life, so a game plan is definitely needed. The way I did it (back in the day) was to break it down into phases. So without further ado here’s my slightly-melodramatic-mission-impossible-style guide to picking your University!
PHASE 1: The initial kick list
- It always starts with the crazy internet browse. The key things to consider before really diving into those Uni websites are these 3 points:
- What do I want to do and what do I need to get there?
- Make a list of the universities that want you. (Do you meet their academic criteria?)
- Then think…do you want them? If you don’t then give them the boot! As “SNAP!” once said, you’ve “Got the POWER!!”
PHASE 2: Break it down
- Consider the course
- Check out the syllabus. Is it interesting?
- Are the lecturers awesome?
- How good is the department?
- Are they forerunners in research?
- What are the job prospects like?
- Then think Uni.
- Do they have good student support and student amenities?
- Is the students union awesome?
- Are there lots of crazy societies to join?
- What’s campus like? Is it pretty? Is it green?
- Finally look at location.
- Can you see yourself living there?
- What’s available?
- How close is everything to campus? What transport is available?
- Then think living expenses and how safe the city is (you’re only a wee student at the end of the day so you need a cheap food store and a safe bike lock point)
- Make a final list of around 6/7 universities. If they’re in cities or places you’ve never been before, or you’re a bit unsure about them then put them on your open day list
PHASE 3: Always keep an open mind until after the open day
- Open days are there for you to get a feel for the place, so really get stuck in and have a good old explore of everything.
- When you book a place on an open day, it’s good to pre-plan the key places you want to see, especially if you’re on a time constraint. Print off a map of campus and the events timetable and highlight the bits you have to do.
- When you get there, don’t get sucked in by all the freebies. You shall not be bribed! (Take what you can anyway though, who doesn’t love those clicky pens?)
- The key things you’d want to get out of open days:
- Are the students happy? (Not just the one’s working on the open day, it’s worth having a chat with some of the random ones around campus too. How friendly is everyone?)
- Talk to a student already on the course, ask them what it’s like and what the social life is like?
- Go to the course curriculum talk, do you feel inspired and excited? What do they offer that’s different?
- Have a sneaky city explore and do a bit of sightseeing, is this place right for you?
- When you go to the open days always go with a checklist and tick off all the things it has that you want. This will be helpful in phase 4…
PHASE 4: Decision time
- After each open day, spend 5 minutes writing a quick pros and cons summary for each visit.
- Have a good long think.
- Kick off two more universities from your 7 place list
My friend…you have your choices.
The key thing is to go somewhere where you’ll be challenged, where you will thrive, and where you’ll feel safe. Leaving home can be the scariest thing. What will get you through that first month of homesickness, is your passion for your course, and your love of the place. Choose well future students, and good luck!