Image of a student thinking about their university choices

 by Emily Day
, posted On 9 Nov '21
 Recruitment Coordinator at the University of Wolverhampton

How to support students making their university course choices

When thinking about this article, I started with how I made my choices. It was a fair few years ago, but there are key things that still stick in my mind. I’m sure that you too can think of a few things that influenced your decision.

Of course, we all had very different factors that were important to us. Years later, would we still follow the same list? Seventeen-year- old me was convinced that being an extra on Hollyoaks was top of my list!

Until I started to visit open days, I thought my mind was made up. But then I started to look at other factors – including location, course and module choices and grade requirements. As I visited different universities these factors kept changing and I started to compare them against each other. Ultimately, my decision came down to a gut feeling can I see myself living and studying here?

University choices for students are personal

The most important thing to remember when supporting students at pre and post offer stage is that each student will have different things that are important to them. Of course, students should get advice from parents and carers, friends and their school or college, but make sure that their list is personal to them.

They can start with a long list, which can help when initially researching universities, and then ask questions at both face-to-face and virtual events. As students find out answers to their questions, this list will start to change and help create a list of potential choices. I used different post-it notes with factors on that I could move around and group together depending on which became the most important.

Image of a student thinking about their university choices

Encourage students to attend university open days

Now that things are starting to return to some sense of normality, encourage students to grab this opportunity with both hands (and feet). Have resources available to help students find when open days are, such as a map of universities with QR codes that link to open day webpages.

Open days are the best way to get a feel for a university and can naturally help students to select their choices. Applicant specific events, as well as engaging with university communications and social media channels, can then help students to pick their firm and insurance choices.

We know that choosing a path for higher education is one of the hardest decisions students make and there is no one size fits all guide. My best advice is to have multiple resources available for your students, such as videos, prospectuses, careers/higher education fairs as well as drop-in sessions.

Each student will be different of course, but starting their research as soon as possible will be very beneficial for them all.

Teachers, careers colleagues and support staff: request your FREE UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University brochure.

This brochure has been produced by in collaboration with HELOA - to support the university guidance that is provided in secondary schools and colleges.

Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities and higher education institutions throughout the UK. On topics covering how to support students with their university decisions, university events, widening participation & fair access, UCAS applications (including writing school references) and more. It also includes the key student finance facts from Martin Lewis.

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