Choosing the right university is an important decision that can shape one’s future career trajectory. To shed light on this crucial aspect of post-18 planning, we spoke with Louise Badelow, Eltham College Head of Careers and Post 18 Options. Louise’ wealth of experience and insights offer invaluable guidance to students embarking on their university journey.

Louise emphasises the importance of meticulous research when selecting potential degree options and universities, pointing out that there are over 65,000 different courses available at UK institutions alone, with relatively few directly aligned to subjects studied at A level. Indeed, with most graduate employers not specifying a required degree subject, it is paramount to choose a course that is of genuine interest, rather than on the false perception of recruiter preference.

Unlike the standardised curriculum of A-levels, university study varies significantly from institution to institution. For instance, a history degree at Exeter may differ substantially from one at Southampton or Leeds. Thus, it is important for students to scrutinise the content and nature of their desired subjects across different universities. Additionally, other course factors should be taken into account, for example assessment methods, which can vary greatly. Other considerations such as location, campus/city atmosphere, and accommodation options play pivotal roles in shaping one’s university experience.

Financial aspects often go overlooked in university research says Louise . She highlights the significance of evaluating maintenance costs, including accommodation expenses and living allowances. It’s crucial to recognise the disparity in living costs across different university cities and to factor in potential financial strains when making decisions.

In-depth research into less considered matters, such as transport links and the availability/location of student accommodation, is also vital. Louise sheds light on the current challenges universities face due to the increased demand for housing and advises students to consider long-term accommodation options beyond the first year.

While university rankings and reputation carry weight, Louise advises students to delve deeper into subject-specific rankings and diverse league tables. Recognising that reputation varies across different subjects and industry sectors, students should prioritise the suitability of a university for their chosen field of study over its overall ranking.

Some of the resources recommended by Louise to help students make informed decisions are UniFrog, UCAS, and the Elthamians Network . Virtual open days, Unibuddy chats, alumni mentorship programmes and work experience offer invaluable insights into university life and career pathways, empowering students to make well-informed choices.

In conclusion, Louise’s insights underscore the multifaceted considerations involved in choosing the right university. By prioritising alignment of academic interests, financial viability, and, where they exist, long-term career goals, students can embark on a university journey that sets the stage for a fulfilling and successful future.