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If you're considering student life, you're not alone. A 2017 survey found that 79% of the students asked planned to go to University. But, before you apply to University, you'll need to consider which are the right choices for you. Some factors to decide on include the degree subject, the location, your accommodation and how you'll fund it.

University is a chance to study for a degree in a subject you enjoy and will help point you in the direction of your ideal career. You'll have the freedom to choose exactly what your degree involves by selecting the modules that fit your interests – this way, you'll enjoy your lectures and be more motivated to succeed.

But you won’t only be studying (though don’t be surprised if you have to pull a few late nights in the library around deadlines – we’ve all been there!). Chances are you'll also be doing a lot of socialising, and this goes beyond Freshers Week. You’ll have the opportunity to get involved with a whole range of opportunities you might not otherwise be able to, whether that's clubs, societies, study groups. These are the best way to meet lots of new people, and they look great on a CV too.

A huge part of the appeal of university life focuses on the independence you gain during your time as a student. You’ll have all the decisions when it comes down to what topics you wish to cover in your modules, when you want to study and living away from home in most cases. Keep in mind that university, though it has its benefits, is not for everyone, and you need to consider whether it's the right choice for you.

Before you apply to university, think about the right choice for you. Some factors to decide on include the degree subject, the location, your accommodation and how you'll fund it. Don't be swayed by what your friends are doing – you need to pick the options that are best for you to ensure you get the most out of your university experience.

As a student, you’ll have a lot of time for your studies, meaning it’s important that you’re enthusiastic about your subject.

How do you decide what degree to study?

This is easier if you have a career in mind as some jobs require a certain degree. If you have your heart set on one job, make sure you know what you need to get there, as applying for a degree can also affect your A-Level or BTEC choices. If you don't know what career you want, you can still make a degree choice that benefits you.

Think about your strengths - a subject you enjoy can lead to a career you'll succeed at. It's also worth picking a course that could lead to a wide variety of options – for example, choosing chemistry rather than the narrower forensic science if you aren't set on that specific field.

It's important to consider how you'll be taught and assessed – some courses use different combinations of exams and coursework, and you may also be able to check out some of the modules that will be available to see what appeals. It's also a good idea to find out how many contact hours you'll have, as well as the level of independent study you're expected to do per week, and whether this suits your learning style.

Picking a university is not a simple choice and can take time and consideration. But it's important that you focus on aspects of what will make you happy and willing to succeed in your chosen degree. Keep your options open and choose depending on your preferences, not anyone else's.

How long does it take to hear back from a university?

It all depends on the university you have applied to or when you have applied (exact dates change on the year). If you send your application at the earliest deadline, you can expect to hear back from a university in, or before, early May.

If you apply before the second deadline this will likely be in the first week of July. At the very latest, universities must get back to you in October if you apply through clearing. You can check all of these details on the UCAS or university website.

What if I'm applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science?

For medicine and dentistry courses you can only apply to four universities, rather than the usual five. However, you can use this fifth choice in another subject if you wish. For example, if you have applied for four courses in Medicine, you could make your fifth-choice Dentistry instead.

How can I apply for the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge?

It’s not possible to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same admissions round, so you’ll have to choose between one or the other. Additionally, Oxford and Cambridge have an earlier application deadline than other universities, meaning an application is typically entered in mid-October. Cambridge also requires applicants to complete an online additional application form (either the SAQ or COPA) after a UCAS application so keep this in mind when applying!

How do I apply for deferred entry?

If you’re thinking of taking a year out before you start university, you may wish to apply for deferred entry. Some Universities don’t allow you to defer entry into some courses, such as Medicine, but will consider other deferments. You’ll still need to meet the conditions of any offers you received in the year you apply. Deferring means that you will have your results confirmed and your university place set up and waiting to start the following year.

What if I'm applying internationally?

There are different rules for EU and international students, which can be found in full on the UCAS website. You can use equivalent international qualifications compared to A-Levels when applying. Make sure that when you’re searching for courses, some may not list your equivalent qualification – but don't worry, most Universities will accept them, just get in contact with them to ask.

University life is what you make it – so make it count.

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