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Shortlisting Universities


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A general - not dance related - request.


Musical DD has set her heart on a place at a conservatoire.   So far so good.  Whittling choice down from 8  down to 5 is do-able.


Should she not get offers, or have reservations, Plan B is to study something Geology related, as that's her favourite A level.  She doesn't want to do academic music.


My question is. how do you decide where to apply?  Both my older children were doing very vocational courses so it was not too hard to get round the open days, or read the prospectuses.  


We've agreed we'll get an application together  in principal during the Easter and Summer holidays (personal statement, research, check information required), but not submit it until Christmas, as the conservatoires will have made their offers by then and her music teachers have all advised not to get distracted by haring around the country attending open days for Geology stuff.  If necessary we'll do a blitz at Christmas so she can make her final decision of where to apply then.


Any advice on where to start is vey much appreciated!

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Our two older DDs were both given advice during their time in 6th form on how to approach choosing an appropriate university. From what I can remember, the choices were strongly related to their predicted grades at A'Level. It was suggested that they choose one university which required grades lower than what they were predicted, one which required grades more or less the same and one which required grades higher. This seemed to me to cover all eventualities!


The content of the courses, details of placements, were also studied in detail as they can vary hugely from one university to another.


They were also encouraged to research thoroughly previous graduate destinations, students' satisfaction ratings, etc which can be found on numerous websites. One of our DDs was advised not to visit student forums as her teachers thought that the advice on there may not always be coming from current students, but our other DD found the students forums invaluable and enabled her to make contact with others who were also attending interviews for the same courses as she was.


As we live overseas, both of them visited around three universities (not always on their open days) as we felt it was very important to find out where they may be studying for three years. Both of our DDs had to attend interviews for their chosen courses, so had the opportunity to explore both the universities and the surrounding areas for a short time.


Your musical DD probably already has a good idea of where she would feel most comfortable studying - some students love being in a city, or near to a beach, or just close enough to home to enable regular visits.


Our DDs were both offered places at universities and both chose to study in places completely different to where we live and many, many miles away! I do think it is a useful life experience to have the chance to spend three years somewhere very different to where you have grown up. Our DDs know that they won't be visiting home every month - they return at Christmas, Easter and for the summer holidays - but I'm sure they acquire much needed independence from us and I'm most envious of all the opportunities they have available to them. If only they could find more time away from studying to explore the country a little more!


I do wish your musical DD success in finding a place at a conservatoire.

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Meadowblythe, I've added a "university" tag to your thread, so if you click on that you will find other related threads (many relating to dance at uni, of course, but they may contain useful more general information too).


As I said in one of them the other day, location is important - possibly even more important than course content.  You need to find somewhere you'll be happy spending three years of your life in, because uni can be difficult enough without the added stress of feeling you're somewhere too big/small/rural/urban/nearby/faraway for your liking.  When I "auditioned" my university choices, I originally had Salford at the top because of the course content, but found it too urban for my taste and couldn't see myself living there happily.  Turned out I was happier somewhere a little smaller and a bit more spacious.


(Salford has changed vastly since then, of course :) )

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Thank you Alison


DD is in a slightly unusual position as she is at vocational music school 6 hours away from us.  She loves it there (small town) and it really is as near "home" as here, especially as their sixth form boarding is well set up.  So when she thinks about how far she wants to be from "home" she has to plot from two places!    However, we can take this as a starting point and think about locales with a similar feel.  She is used to being in cities at night through various youth orchestras; so can make a considered judgement.


Now just to factor in the boyfriend - I am insistent that he can't be part of the equation, she is theoretically in agreement but I'm not so sure she means it ...

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It's very hard to know where to start if you have a huge choice of universities. I'm not saying that it's the right or wrong approach but many prospective students and their parents use league tables, both for the university and for the individual subject, as a starting point. I do think that there is a big difference between the experience of studying at, respectively, the London universities, universities based in large cities (eg Manchester), universities based in small historic cities (eg Durham) and campus based universities (eg Warwick). In the era of online fora and social media stereotypes about the type of students who attend the different universities have developed and this does tend to attract like-minded students so the stereotypes do have more than a grain of truth.


Some courses incorporate industry placements, which appear attractive in terms of enhancing employability, but I would check exactly what the university offers in terms of securing placements ie does it have connections or schemes with employers in the numbers required by the cohort of students (it's not much help if there are 200 students in the year but there are only 40 employers on the university's books) or are you expected to organise your own placement.


Whilst cost is a factor there's no substitute for visiting a university. Some prospective students are energised and excited by the hustle and bustle of a big city whilst others find it intimidating. Be aware that the much advertised advantages of campus universities fade away after the first year when you are no longer living on campus and may be living some distance away from the faculty, particularly if the campus is based 'out of town'; with the huge increase in student numbers there are few opportunities to live in university accommodation beyond the first year.

Edited by aileen
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Factors we considered when my son was off to university - we did look at the league tables for the subject he wished to study and at the entry grade requirements for the universities. Similar to Hull, advice from the school had been to ensure that you included a university where the entry requirement was lower than predicted grades and mostly choose those where grades were in line with what you hoped to achieve - perhaps one aspirational but not to put everything out of reach. For DSs course entry requirements ranged from A*A*A* to CCD and he knew that he was not on target for A* so that ruled out quite a few. Next factor was course content as courses with the same name can include quite different content and some include a year abroad (at a university) or a placement year. Final factor was location - one for the actual university - compact campus in a town/city or on the outskirts, campus spread throughout the town/city (all have a very different atmosphere and affect social life and accommodation) but also for where in the country. For us it was not so much about distance from home but ease of getting there.  Travelling by car - how many hours to drive to drop them and all their stuff off but also for if they can get home by train/coach etc for Christmas/easter and such times when they do not have loads of luggage.  Its amazing how many places are within say a 3 hour train journey that would take closer to 5 hours by car and the opposite, how many places are less than 2 hours by car but with train routes takes 3-4 hours.

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