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Ten things to do before you apply to university

So, you're thinking about going to university? Here are 10 things to think about before you even apply:

1. Is university for you?

Before you start looking at universities, are you sure university is for you?

Don’t feel like you have to go if you can’t see how it will benefit you in the long run.

And don't just go because it looks like fun - or by the time you finish you could be three years behind on your dream career, in a lot of debt with a really bad hangover.

If you’re feeling unsure take some time out - get some work experience, do some volunteering, go travelling or look in to apprenticeships.

2. Research jobs you like the sound of

Research the subject areas you're interested in - look at some of the jobs you like the sound of and see what sort of degree they're asking for, if any.

Prospects.ac.uk is a good place to find out about job roles and career areas. Talk to your tutors and look online to see what universities are good for those subjects.

You might want to study forensics because you like watching CSI, but do you really know what it's like to study a forensics degree for three years?

3. Compare courses

Look on the UCAS website at what courses are available for in the subject area you like, and start compiling a list. Be careful to check all the different course titles your ideal course might have - some could be hidden away.

Start comparing the course content. Look at what modules are available - this can give you a good idea of what you will actually learn on the course and how courses differ.

If you’re studying English Literature, you need to know whether you're going to be reading about The Portrait of Dorian Gray or Fifty Shades of Grey.

4. Compare universities and locations

Find out everything you can about the universities you’re considering - compare:

  • rankings
  • professional accreditations
  • student support
  • academic staff
  • industry links
  • work placement opportunities
  • facilities
  • graduate employment stats and career destinations

Don't discount places you've never visited or don’t know much about. You could be turning down the chance of a lifetime just because all you know about a place is that their football team are rubbish.

5. Look at the university's online presence

Their official and students' union Facebook pages, Twitter account, website and videos can give you a good idea what the university is like.

If you can, find student profiles. What are they saying about the university?

6. Go to open days

Visit your shortlist for open days (select a few for comparison).

Talk to academic staff and students, look at the facilities, accommodation, students' union and ask about the best places to go in the area. Take a walk round the area for yourself, go to places you’ve been recommended to visit, be open-minded, see how the students live.

At the end of the open day ask yourself how welcomed you felt.

Find out more

Find out when the University of Bradford's next open day is.

7. Go to UCAS fairs

Go to UCAS fairs.

This is a good opportunity to compare a number of universities and get a first impression of what they could be like to study at, as well as collect a lot of free pens.

8. Check independent websites

Have a look at independent websites like The Student Room, and see what others are saying about the universities you’re interested in.

Ask questions and see what former or current students can tell you. Listen to people who’ve been there.

9. Know the facts about tuition fees

Make sure you know the facts about student finance. Tuition fee loans are available for all students who haven’t studied before and you don’t pay anything back until you're earning at least £21,000.

Also research the cost of living for your shortlisted locations.

Find out more

Check out the University of Bradford's Fees and Financial Support website.

10. Learn to cook

Students cooking in the Green.

Learn to cook. You can eat beans for three years if you want, but you will have no friends!