How to Choose the Right Universities to Apply To

There are hundreds of universities in the UK and many more across the world. If you've decided that you want to earn a degree qualification, there's certainly no shortage of options to choose from when it comes to deciding where you'd like to study. But with so many options, narrowing it down to just five or less to apply to can be confusing and if you like the look of several universities, it can seem downright impossible. Here are some top tips to keep in mind that may help you narrow down your choices when applying to universities.

Consider What You Want to Study:

First of all, consider what you want to study as this will be a huge factor in determining the most suitable universities for you. Most universities tend to focus more heavily on some departments more than others, even if they offer a wide range of courses. Learn as much as you can about different universities and the departments that they tend to invest in the most. Sites like UCAS offer percentages of students that go on to pursue successful careers in their chosen subject after graduating; this can help you determine which university is best for your chosen path.

Speak to Current and Former Students:

Speaking to current and former students at the universities that you have an interest in will help you get a better idea of whether or not it is the right choice for you. There are various ways to do this, including student forums like The Student Room, where you can find students from all over the UK discussing a wide variety of topics. Social media is also a good place to start as many students are in social groups that you can join to ask questions. Don't just ask about courses and teaching; find out about the campus culture and any extracurricular activities that you might be interested in, too.

Use Comparison Sites:

Comparison sites like University Compare are a great place to start when it comes to finding out more about universities that you might like to study at. University Compare allows you to search for various universities and find out more about them; for example, you can see the Southampton University ranking along with all you need to know about this university before deciding whether or not it would be a good fit for your study plans.

Visit Open Days:

Probably one of the best ways to find out more about a university and decide whether or not it's right for you is to visit an open day. These are usually held a few times throughout the academic year and allow you to get a full tour of the campus, classrooms, and facilities, and you might even be able to sit in on a lecture for your chosen subject. You'll also be able to speak to current students, see student accommodation options, and check out the student union and societies to help you get a better feel for the place and decide if you fit in.

Speak With a Careers Advisor:

While the university that you attend does not hold as much weight as your degree when it comes to helping you reach your career goals, some are better than others when it comes to preparing you for the world of work. If you have a particular career goal in mind for the future, some universities are going to be a better option for helping you achieve it. Career advisors tend to be well-versed in which universities are better choices for certain career paths, so speaking to one can help you decide on the right option for you. You can find independent careers advisors to speak to, or there may be one at your college. Careers advisors from your chosen university are knowledgeable about the different courses on offer and will be able to help you make the right choice of course.

Consider Other Factors:

Finally, think about other factors in your life that might have an effect on the university that you choose. First of all, consider how much funding you are going to receive from student finance and compare this to the cost of living for students at the universities you are considering. If there's a shortfall, will you be able to get financial help from your parents or other family members? Or will you need to get a part-time job? If you're considering working as a student, consider opportunities for work in the university city. Does the uni have job options for students? Are there pubs, bars, restaurants or supermarkets nearby that could offer you part-time work while you study?

Every university is different and there are hundreds to choose from. Keep these tips in mind when putting together your application to help you find the best place to study.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.