University : A process full of decisions | Sunday Observer

University : A process full of decisions

Picking a university that offers a good student life and a place where you feel safest on top of having a good course is helpful
Picking a university that offers a good student life and a place where you feel safest on top of having a good course is helpful

At some point in all of our lives, the word ‘university’ has been dropped a few times here and there. But when we were younger the word itself had no gravity. The weight of it starts to build up once you reach your final few years of school. It is at this point that the thought of university can be both stressful and exciting; you have all these decisions to make in what seems to dictate how your life will end up.

The right course

Finding the right course can be challenging, with countless options from several universities, it can be very hard to decide. There are those people who just know what they want to do, and if that is you, lucky you.

For the rest of us, it feels like this one small decision is immediately going to dictate what we’re going to do. Choosing a course can be incredibly difficult and sometimes it just is not as straight forward as we would hope for. I went through a number of different courses in many different subjects that peaked my interest. It got to the extent where my family would have this running joke about me changing my options every month because I would continuously change my mind. It helps to go on university websites and look at the breakdown of each course, it briefly explains what topics you will be studying, how you will be tested and what electives are available for you to pick. Each university’s course will have slight differences over what they teach and what electives they offer.

Location

For some of us, it is incredibly straightforward as to where we’re going… and for the rest of us, it is yet another decision to make. Location, in terms of which country, is something that deserves quite a bit of research, seeing as some countries may offer better opportunities for your course than others. For instance, in the UK, you could do a four year course in nutrition with one year being allocated to work experience that the university helps you to get.This may not necessarily be offered by other universities in other countries. Work experience is incredibly beneficial as it helps to build up your resume and if the company you are working for likes you, they may even offer you a position. Looking into what courses are available and the breakdown of it might also help you decide. In addition, although it is not as important, picking a university that offers a good student life and a place where you feel safest on top of having a good course is helpful. It may seem absurd to our parents because student life is not as important as your studies, but at the end of the day, you need to be able to feel comfortable in that environment. It does not hurt to throw in some extra research to truly figure out where you want to study.

The right university

What I found myself doing, was that I would look at the university ranking more than anything. I found myself googling ‘Best unis in the world.’ I had to remind myself that, it was not the priority. I needed to pick a university that was most convenient for me and for my family as well as offering a course that was ranked well. Therefore, before you choose your university, you need to decide on your course because the best university in the world may not have the best course for the subject your looking to study or they may not even offer it at all. The subject ranking is more important than the ranking of the university itself. The university’s ranking is based upon how much research they have provided to the world and multiple other indicators, it does not individually assess your course, hence why it is better to look at the subject/course ranking first. You will have to shortlist your universities to only a handful, so ensure that you are happy with the universities you have shortlisted and that you would not mind going to any of them. Remember to make sure your list is varied, having a mixture of reach, match and safety options. Reach is the university that is slightly harder to get into, match refers to universities where you already have the required grades and safety is the option where your grades are higher than the required grades.

Deadlines

Deadlines for applications is something that you need to be on top of. Mark your calendars with all the dates, and if you have things to write like Personal Statements or a Common App essay make sure you have it written well in advance. I made sure to write my personal statement well in advance. I knew I would have to submit my application in January, by starting early it meant that I had enough time to edit to it and get other people to read it, or even scrap it entirely if it was not good. It also meant that my essay was not rushed. Additionally, it also does not hurt to have someone like a university councillor read your essay; they have plenty of experience with applications and they will be able to advise you on how to write your essay. Staying up on top of your deadlines and making sure you have everything ready to go will take a lot of the stress off.

Exam stress

The stress of exams is the worst. The pressure to get good grades immediately increases because the grades you get automatically determines which university you will be accepted by. It is at this point where you tend to procrastinate the most… and maybe stress is due to all that procrastination.

Stress is natural when you are writing your exams, it is all part of the process, and to say the least: it is unavoidable. What you can do is manage your stress by being organised. Make sure to keep at least an hour to yourself before bed where you can just sit and relax before you sleep. Also, make sure that you remain on top of your studies, do not begin to slack at any point, and do not discuss answers after writing your exams because that will make you feel as if you have failed the paper entirely which may not even be the truth.

Waiting for results

This can be a very conflicting time, at on one hand you’re relieved that you have finished your exams, but on the other hand,you still have to wait to see whether you have passed and gotten accepted by your university of choice. There is nothing you can do but distract yourself so that time does not seem as if it is severely slow. Spend this time well with your family and friends, especially if you are planning on travelling abroad to further your studies. Most of all, remember to have a positive mindset.

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