Tips for picking your course and university

By Mohammed Ahmed, CoachBright Intern

Year 12’s across the country are starting to think about what to study and where.  At CoachBright HQ, we know how picking the right course at one of the 300 plus educational institutions in the UK is a tough decision and quite a few factors are in play.

So, to help you have a clear view of the options available and the parts involved in making those decisions we decided to ask our current coaches about what informed their decisions and to avoid when going about the selection process.

1. Visit the campus on Open Day

“I couldn't recommend visiting the campuses of your prospective universities highly enough. A must-do. Sounds pretty obvious, but who would spend 3/4 years at a place without knowing what it looked like beforehand. Don't just visit course buildings. Go to the town centre, the accommodation buildings, the pub, local restaurant - really imagine if you can see yourself there”.


Hazel, History graduate of Exeter University


2. Pay Attention to course details

My subject (film and media) is not studied uniformly across UK universities. You can study through the lens of either academic research and writing or a more hands on, practical filmmaking approach. When beginning the process of choosing your course and university, I would strongly recommend checking out the module list for all the courses that initially pique your interest as while some courses are listed highly on the university rankings, they may not be entirely suitable for your career plan. This could leave you feeling unmotivated in class when you’re not following the education path you expected.

Mohammed, currently in last year of Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London

3. Research Online

Doing my own online research was absolutely essential in my process of deciding where to go to uni. I used the universities' websites to look at what modules were available for each course I applied to. The Student Room is also a good resource for questions about what student life is like at a particular uni, or even about things like safety on campus. Additionally, some universities have informational videos posted on YouTube about things like accommodation and student societies. Definitely do as much of your own research as possible, especially if you won’t have the chance to visit the university yourself. 


Abby, studies Religion, Philosophy & Ethics  at King College London

4. Picking a subject you genuinely care about:

"Don't do business because you want to make money! Do it because you actually want to learn about business.". That's what I heard from a sixth form advisor. It definitely rings true. I knew so many people at university (myself included) who didn't fully want to do their course. Sounds obvious but really think about whether you can see yourself dedicating to that one particular subject.


Robin, History and Politics graduate of Exeter University



5. Cost of the courses

I was in the lucky position not to worry too much about the cost of my MSc program because I was able to secure scholarships in Germany. At the Department of Psychology at LSE there are substantial differences when it comes to the cost of the different programs. If you look closely, however, the programs do not differ too much because you can take the same elective courses and have the same access to the academics in the department. So, if money is a consideration I would encourage you to look into the details of whether the different programs actually differ so much in content or whether the difference in price is actually ‘only’ due to the name of the program.

David, currently studying Psychology MA at London School of Economics and Political Sciences

 6. Work Experience and Future Employment Opportunities

In a humanities degree like mine (I study Religion, Philosophy & Ethics), finding work experience is not always straightforward. However, whether you’re a humanities student or not, the connections that you make with academics are invaluable in finding work experience. I worked as the media intern in the head office at White Cube, an internationally renowned commercial art gallery, because I was recommended to the internship program by one of my lecturers. It’s especially easy to make strong connections in a small department, but if you are determined enough, there are always ways for you to make yourself stand out. Personal tutors and individual office hours are provided for this very reason. It’s never too early to try to make connections. If you have questions about what kind of work experience or future employment, send an email to the course convener. 


Abby, studies Religion, Philosophy & Ethics at King College London


7. Research the lecturers

For my decision to study my particular program at LSE, the lecturers (more precisely their area of research) were the primary source of information. I think the academics and their ongoing research projects ultimately shape the character and atmosphere of the particular program, even more than the “official” description of the courses. So I think it makes a lot of sense to familiarise oneself with the academics and their research areas before applying to a particular program.

David, currently studying Psychology MA at London School of Economics and Political Sciences

8 – Location

Since the tuition fee hikes, many people have found themselves considering their options and wanting to stay closer to home in order to save money and lessen their student loan debt after graduation. For those worried about future debt, this choice can be imperative. However, especially those who do not live within close proximity to a good university this could be a choice that is essentially out of their hands. If the industry you’re looking to enter has a higher success rate if you move to a bigger city and after careful consideration you’re willing to shoulder the debt because you’re determined to be successful I believe you should risk the money. For those who are moving from remote parts of the country to metropolitan areas I would recommend checking out the local rental prices as those in major cities, especially London are considerably higher than the rest of the nation.