Sometimes having too much choice is worse than having none at all, and when it comes to choosing a uni course, there’s definitely a lot of choice! So how do you go about narrowing down exactly what you want to study? Our film student Effie reveals her five top tips in this video.
If you’re still unsure about your course, you can always take our course quiz too.
1) Work your way backwards
Let’s start with your goal. Think about the career or job you want to get into, but if you’re not sure what that is it’s absolutely fine. As long as you have a general idea or industry you want to go into then that’ll do! A lot of students work out exactly what they want to go into when they’re researching courses, as this is when you can see all the career paths that different courses can lead to. If you haven’t got much of an idea about what area you’d like to work in, maybe check out our Should I Go to University guide to help you narrow it down.
2) Make a course longlist
When searching for courses you might be thinking ‘shall I decide on my uni first or just look at courses?’ Effie’s advice is look through the courses first, you can always decide if the uni is right for you later, when you go to an Open Day. The course content and the opportunities it offers is the most important thing so it’s essential that you’re happy with that first.
Use the UCAS search tool and look through all the courses that interest you in your subject area. Make a list of the top 10 to 20 courses that seem the best for you. Effie suggests opening the courses that interests you in new tabs on your browser, the tabs you have open at the end of your search will be your longlist.
The expert opinion: Practical experience
3) Take a break
That initial search is probably the most time consuming part of finding a course to study. You’ve just whittled hundreds of options down to 10 to 20 choices - you deserve a break! Take a few days to forget about your course search and come back to your longlist refreshed and ready to get down to the detail.
4) What to look for when making your course shortlist
This is when you want to take your options down to your five dream courses. That means really scrutinising those course pages on university websites and paying attention to things like:
- What facilities you’ll have access to
- What the teaching is like
- Are there placement opportunities?
- Success rates for the course
- Student reviews
- Employability rates for the course.
Once you start to get an idea of the more specific information about your longlist courses you can start to make judgements about what needs to be removed and which courses will make it to your final five. Compare the courses on your list i.e. will this course give me as much access to industry standard facilities as this other course? Have the lecturers worked in the industry their teaching about? And so on.
5) Go to Open Days
Now that you’ve got your final five, it’s time to go out into the real world and experience those universities. The great thing about attending an open day is that you can really get a feel for a university and you can also ask any questions you have about the course to both students and lecturers.
If you’re interested in multiple courses at the same university, attending an open day is also a good way to figure out which course is for you. You’ll be able to ask lecturers how one course differs from another, and how the career opportunities differ from course to course.
Not sure about which course is for you? Take our course quiz.