Is University for Me?

Growin Up. A very lovely song by Bruce Springsteen, but also the thought we all have as first years once we arrive at University and realize that maybe this part of life may not be for us. It’s scary, isn’t it? Regretting your choice of course or picking that one optional with statistics thinking you can figure out what that’s all about.
How did we get here anyway? Oh. Yeah. We wanted to be here. Remember that on-going conversation with your parents and your teachers in your last year of high school.

  • What do you want to study at university?
  • History, I think. But I’m also torn between Modern History or just the usual degree. Or maybe adding Politics or International Relations in the mix and doing a joint degree? I just don’t know yet which of these, if any, are worth over 9,000 pounds a year.
  • And which universities have you looked at so far?
  • A lot really. But Essex is my top choice. It just has everything I need as far as I can tell. Once I will go to an Open Day I will be able to make a final decision. Although it’s got my full attention so far, you never know what else I can find out then.

A conversation all of us have at some point right? But how do we make sure it will lead us where we want to be at the end of 3 or 4 years of higher education?

  • Be at least 90% sure that university is for you!

If you start the application process, there is no going back really. But be certain when you start applying that university is for you! When you’re picking your course, when you’re writing down your 5 universities, when you’re applying for accommodation. And talk to people, to everyone really, your teachers, your parents, your siblings, current students, alumni, anyone you can think of. Ask them questions. Once you arrive here you can really start trusting the phrase “No questions is too stupid” The more you talk the more confident you’ll be about your choice of course and everything that comes along with it. Try to calm your anxiety the best you can and most importantly make sure that the final choice is your own!

  • Think of the course not the university!

Top universities are nice, sure, okay. But you’d be surprised at how many of them are rubbish at teaching certain subjects. Look into how good they are at your course not at how high they stand on the annual review. After all, you’ll be studying your subject not just walking about the university all day every day. I knew that Essex is one of few universities in the country who takes a unique approach to History and offers so many joint degrees with it, best known for their excellence in independent research projects. Don’t forget to also look up where they stand on the student satisfaction survey. Essex prides itself in this department, with 90% of students saying they are satisfied with their course – well above the national average of 86%.

  • A researcher or a lecturer?

Personally, this was the toughest. Most universities focus only on one between the two: research or teaching. Research universities tend to be better perceived because of the prestige that comes along with that title. They involve themselves in projects, activities, international conferences, and by association their students as well. But this way you will spend less time in lectures, seminars, classes and maybe that’s your best way of learning new information. If you don’t find yourself attracted by group projects, internships or different employment schemes opt for a teaching university. All in all, both types are hard to make a schedule around, but as long as you enjoy it, you’ll be graduating in no time!

  • Make sure that those 5 universities fit you!

I knew from the moment I started reading the prospectus that University of Essex was for me. The message they sent out to applicants: “rebels with a cause”, “challenge the status quo” and the international community they grow each year is what motivated me to have the best personal statement and best academic results possible. Although 50 years may not seem like much, it was enough for this university to make a name for itself which I am sure students, alumni and anyone who has ever had the opportunity to get to know this campus and our family along with it, will never forget. If you choose University of Essex you will be far from disappointed in your degree and experience here.