Encourage your students to do their HE research thoroughly to help ensure they make an informed decision about what and where to study. This is often a more time-consuming exercise than students expect so starting to think about HE plans as early as halfway through Year 12 is recommended. Leaving the UCAS application and accompanying research until the last minute can result in a hurried choice of university or course, both of which are less likely to result in a positive outcome.
There are a number of websites students can use to exploreChoosing a course and university course ideas and make comparisons between different courses and institutions on key criteria (such as entry requirements, location, study modules, student satisfaction and future employment prospects). The following websites are recommended in particular:
Attention to detail is critical when researching courses to avoid overlooking important information and causing later regret. For example, courses with similar titles don’t always cover the same learning, some subjects might not necessarily be based on the main university campus and some degrees, such as psychology or law, aren’t always accredited for entry into the occupation in question.
When selecting a course, encourage your students to be realistic about the grades they will potentially achieve. In terms of entry requirements, a healthy mix of ambitious and safe choices for the five selections made via UCAS is definitely a good idea. It is helpful also to avoid overly focusing on making choices based on the perceived status or reputation of a university (or what they consider is a ‘good university’). There are in fact plenty of excellent options available at universities that may be positioned lower in the university league tables.
If any of your students already have a clear idea about their future career plans, this can make choosing a HE course easier. However do make sure they carefully check qualifications needed for their chosen job as some require a specific degree at entry (such as dentistry, veterinary and architecture).
If, as is more commonly the case, your students feel unsure about their career or degree course, you can reassure them that they don’t need to worry at this stage. Many students start university without a clear career plan but with a desire to study a specific subject area. During their time at university and through a combination of academic studies, work experience and extra-curricular activities, new ideas and possibilities emerge which then shape their future career plans. In addition, it is perhaps comforting to note that there are many professional and managerial roles are open to graduates with a degree level qualification in any subject.