In the search for the perfect uni, you’ve probably already scoured the internet for league tables and university rankings. But it’s important to remember that a university’s ‘good’ placement on a league table doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good fit for you. The university experience is about more than just numbers and figures. It’s smart to consider aspects about a university that aren’t solely about academics. Here’s a list of the top 3 non-academic things to consider when choosing a university to help you have the best time whilst at university.
Living in a place that you feel comfortable and at home in is incredibly important for your mental health. You should consider what kind of environment you work best in. Firstly, are you more of a city boy or a small-town girl? Some people may need a bustling city around them to motivate them. Others might need a more calm environment to focus in. Secondly, do you want to be close to your family or do you just want to get away for a bit? It’s worth considering if being close to your family and friends back home is important to you and your wellbeing. If so, it might be a good idea to pick a university closer to home.
Studying in a place that you love will make your time at university much more enjoyable. Before I chose to study in York I was also considering studying in Manchester. I had the privilege to go check out both cities before making my choice, and it made all the difference. For me personally, Manchester is way too busy. I grew up in a village with less than 3000 people, so the calmness of York was a much better fit for me. I’ve found that York, despite not being the biggest city, has played an important role in keeping me sane during my time as a student and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A lovely sunrise in York.
Something you might also consider is how your different options for university would work for you financially. You might ask yourself questions such as: Is there a difference in tuition fees? Would you be able to get a job in that city? How are the rent prices in the area? How much are the train tickets back home? Is the university close to an airport? These things are easily researched and it’s always good information to have. Managing your finances can be difficult, and knowing your opportunities and limitations can help you make the best choices for yourself.
Your degree isn’t everything and you might come to university with some hobbies that you would like to continue whilst you’re there. Check out if there are societies at the university that you might be interested in joining or if there are teams for the sport you play. If not, try and see if there’s somewhere in the local area where you can practice your interests. Something that I looked at when choosing my university, was whether or not they had international societies. The fact that the University of York had a Scandinavian society wasn’t what made me choose to study here, but it definitely made me more interested as having that community was important to me.
Obviously, none of these things should be the deciding factors when choosing a university, but in my experience, they will play a much bigger role in the long run than you might think. So, get researching and try and visit the places you’re interested in if you have the opportunity.
Read more student stories about choosing uni