It’s this time of the year when a lot of students start to think about some kind of further study. For many of you, deciding what to do is no mean feat but the decision about what to study is not the only one that is important, you also need to decide where you’ll go.
As you’ll probably know from speaking to friends that went to other universities, not all unis are created equal. When you chose to come to The University of Manchester you may not have had much to inform your decision, for many of you it will have been the first time you lived away from home. This time round you know what’s important to you in a university and there is loads to consider.
Ine of the first things you need to think about is where you will be comfortable geographically. Have you made friends up here in the north that you want to stay nearby to, or is the pull back towards family stronger? Do you want to go another big city like Manchester, or do you fancy trying somewhere smaller, for example.
What about the quality of the university, and the department that you’re looking to study in? Has it got any big names in your field that could add weight to your dissertation, or any projects you could get involved with to gain experience?
When you chose your undergraduate degree it’s unlikely that the quality of the facilities available (like the careers service) were high up on your list of things to look out for in a potential university, but these are things you should be looking out for in the next place you go to. How long is the library open for, and how many of the resources can you access remotely? What are the IT facilities like – how many computer clusters are there, and how long are these open for? You should by now be aware of how and when you study best – if that’s 3am, are there places you can use at that time?
Of course, you might not be going on to do further study at a university, you might be going to further vocational study, the location of your vocational study is also important to consider. If you want to go on to do a PGCE and teach, important networks might be made through teaching practices that may lead to being given information about jobs and interviews. If you want to teach in a particular geographical area it’s important to consider training in that area.
I recently went on a visit (yep – they let us out of the office occasionally!) to the College of Law‘s new location in Manchester. The college of law have a number of different sites across the UK, and I’ve also been to see their site in Chester and I was really surprised at the difference between the two sites I visited. The College of Law have deliberately tried to make sure their Manchester site has the look and feel of a city law firm, whereas the Chester site is in a small village just outside Chester and has a much smaller feel, although the two offices offer the same teaching and qualification. The College of Law say that different types people like to learn at the different sites.
Spending a little bit of time thinking what you want out a uni or other organisation can help you to be comfortable when you go on to do your study, leading to a much more succesful education experience.