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Picking a course at university or college

Picking the right course is probably one of the hardest choices to make. With so much choice, it's easy for your child to feel a bit overwhelmed.

Where to start

There are some questions they can ask to start narrowing down the possibilities:

  • What do I like doing?
  • What am I best at?
  • What do I want to do after I finish my studies?
  • What would I like to improve at?
  • How long do I want to be at university for?
  • What type of course?

There are three types of qualification that undergraduates can apply to do at university:

  • Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas
  • Foundation Degree
  • Bachelors degrees

Generally speaking, HND and Foundation courses are often more vocational than degree courses and have lower entry requirements. Some can be linked to degree courses and offer the chance of progressing on to do a degree level course.

Other things to think about

Once they've narrowed down the subject area and course type, they need to start researching the details of the courses on offer.

Two courses with very similar names could have very different content. Most universities also offer joint or combined degrees where you can study more than one subject.

They may also want to consider other factors

  • Who teaches the course? Some media personalities and authors can be staff members within the faculty.
  • Extending a course to four or five years to obtain a Postgraduate qualification.
  • Spending a year or part of a year in studying in Europe as part of the Erasmus Programme.
  • Taking a year out of your course to do a work placement either in the UK or abroad.

Although picking the right course at the outset is important, most universities and colleges will consider allowing them to change courses, normally in the first four to six weeks.

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