Choosing a firm and insurance choice

It's not easy only choosing five universities to put on your UCAS application, but once your offers start coming in, you’ll need to narrow down your choices again to just two universities! You’ll need to choose a firm (first choice) and an insurance (second choice) university. 

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Your firm choice university is the university you’ll be attending if you meet the entry requirements on results day. If you don’t meet the entry requirements for your firm choice, then you may automatically be given a place for your insurance choice instead if you meet the entry requirements for that course.

The best way to narrow down your top two is to make a pros and cons list for each university. We’ve thought of all the things you need to do to find a winner and select your firm and insurance choice.

1. Go to an Open Day or Applicant Taster Day

The best way to get a feel for a university is by seeing it in person. If you’ve received an offer from us then you’ll be invited to an Applicant Taster Day. This allows you to chat to current staff and students, explore the campus and facilities and get a glimpse into what it’s really like studying your chosen course.

2. Explore your future city

If you’re moving to a new place, see if it’s the right fit for you before you make your move. Head out into the city after an Open Day or Applicant Taster Day and see what it’s like to be a local. There are tonnes of things to do in Birmingham, from shopping to soaking up some culture at an art gallery to VR experiences!

If you can, travel using public transport to see how easy it will be for you to travel home at weekends or during the holidays. Birmingham has great transport links, our city centre campus is only a 10-15 minute walk to Birmingham New Street Station.

3. Research work experience, industry links and go abroad opportunities

If you want to do a work placement or go abroad during your time at university, then check out what opportunities the university has to offer. Where have students worked before? What did they do? Will you receive employability and placement support?

Our students have enjoyed placements with companies like the BBC, Cisco, IBM, NHS, Microsoft, Dolby, Selfridges, ASOS and more.

4. Review modules covered on each course

Courses can vary greatly from university to university, so make sure you look at what the compulsory and optional modules are. You want to make sure you choose a course that fits your interests and allows you to develop your knowledge in the right areas.

5. Check out the facilities

It’s important to make sure that the facilities you’ll be using on your course are industry standard and prepare you for work in your chosen career. 

We've invested over £400 million in our campus and facilities, so our students can learn in state-of-the-art environments.

6. Check the unis out on social media

Social media is an underrated research tool! Posts on Instagram and TikTok can give you a feel for what the university is really like and the different activities that are going on. You can often find posts about things happening on campus or what a day in the life of a student looks like.

7. Figure out your finances

It can be much more expensive to attend some universities due to their location or range of student accommodation.

Take a look at the average living costs in different cities. Things like the price of accommodation, how much a train ticket costs or even how much it costs to go to the cinema could be important factors that affect your monthly budget.

8. Weigh up the entry requirements

Lastly, it’s good to aim high but you do want to make sure that the entry requirements for your chosen course are achievable.

It’s a good idea to put a university with higher entry requirements as your firm choice and a university with lower entry requirements as your insurance choice. That way, you have something to fall back on if you don’t get the grades you were expecting.

However, if the university with lower entry requirements is the right fit for you then you can still put this as your firm choice. It’s all about choosing the course you can see yourself studying.

[Music] my name is Chimnaza, I'm a first year student on the digital media Computing course and I chose BCU as my firm choice and the university in London as my insurance. To decide what you need to put as your firm and insurance choices the most important thing you need to do is to research now that might sound really obvious but there's more specific things you need to do you should go to university open days you can even consider staying at the city for the weekend to get a feel for the city and the university itself should also look at University websites to see what facilities are available, what modules are covered on the courses and compare and contrast across the different unis and what they offer. Visit the top ones to know what ones you are most likely to enjoy both the university experience and the city itself, for instance I visited BCU on one of the open days and looked around the university as well as the city I also had a chance to speak with with members of staff who are currently my lecturers professors and tutors and that helped me make a more confident decision as to making BC you my firm Choice when deciding where to study it's important to go with your go as well as previous experiences for instance if you currently live in a city and do not like it very much you might consider going to uni in a more remote area. When going for open days you should also consider spending time in the city itself, visiting landmarks and popular areas to see if you would enjoy living in that place if there's a particular location you've always thought about it would be a good idea to research universities in that area as going to uni would be a good opportunity to fulfill that dream of yours you could also do research on the locations you're considering on social media such as Tik Tok as there are pages which give ideas on fun things to do at different locations. When you've gotten to the point where you have to choose between say three unis, it's really helpful to ride that out a list of pros and cons for each of them transport links in each location are a very important point to consider you should consider both connectivity within the city itself as well as going out of the city. Whether that's airports to go out of the country travelling back home for holidays or just going out with your friends out to other cities you should also consider how close you want to be to home. For instance, you might want to stay really close to home as you'd want to commute to University or you might want to enjoy the uni experience and be far away from home and only visit when you really want to. For instance I only go back home on major holidays like Christmas, Easter and summer and this is because I believed moving further away from home would allow me to live more independently and develop more skills on my own. So once you have all your list of pros and cons both the ones mentioned earlier and others that you might have thought of yourself you can then weigh them up to see what un need are more suited to your personality and goals while I knew that I wanted to live in the city having visited London a couple of times I thought it was too busy but coming to Birmingham it had the same city feel vibe and opportunities but more relaxed and suited to my personality. After doing research I also found that cost of living in Birmingham was much cheaper than in London so I decided that coming up to study in Birmingham would be more financially efficient than staying back in London. I decided to come study at BCU against my insurance choice for a number of reasons, first of all BCU has much better facilities for my course, for instance, there's a networks lab, there are studios for filming things and broadcasting and while researching I found that STEAMhouse, a new building dedicated to my faculty had just been unveiled at the uni and I believe this would be a great opportunity for me to make use of the facilities there. I also chose BCU because of the industry links. like I mentioned earlier I study digital media Computing there's bigger production companies like the BBC and there's also other smaller ones within and around Birmingham that will be beneficial for me to take advantage of during and after my study. I also decided to come study at BCU because I believe that they had more experience in my course as they had been running my course digital media Computing though under different names for over 10 years while my other uni had just introduced the course. Once you're down to your final few universities it is generally advisible to choose the university with higher entry requirements as your firm choice and the one with slightly lower requirements as your insurance as this gives you more leeway when results day comes around. However, if your favorite University which has better facilities has lower entry requirements you might consider placing that as your firm choice and another one with higher requirements as your insurance. At the end of the day, these decisions are down to you so make sure you think everything through and choose what's best for you.

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