24 May 2023 | Location: Sheffield, Nottingham

Helping your child find the right university for them can be really exciting, but also really stressful.

It’s their decision to make, but it’s still important for you to be there for them and help them to make the right choice.

Here’s some key points to think about when doing your research…


Accommodation options

What accommodation options are available? Would your child rather be on or off campus? What kind of budget do they have? These are all really important questions to ask, and the accommodation options are just as important as the university and the course itself.

Sit down with your child and decide on a few key aspects that they want from their accommodation. Such as en-suite or shared bathroom, a house share or purpose build student accommodation block, and do they need parking?

Location location location

Where could your child see themselves living for the next 3+ years? It’s a good idea to discuss location and decide how far they’d be willing to travel to get home. If they get homesick easily then it makes sense to look at universities that are closer to home.

Also, make sure you have a plan for how they will get home, so if they’ll be driving then they need to think about parking facilities, but if they’ll be getting the train then they need to make sure they’re able to hop on a train easily if they needed to get home at short notice.

Local surroundings

It’s always good to get a feel for the local area and to make sure there are good facilities nearby. You want to think practically, so where are the local shops and transport links, is there a student GP surgery on site or in the local area and what is the city like for safety?

Also ask yourselves the same questions about the university itself, so what facilities are on site, are there good study areas. What about the social aspect, is there a lot of opportunity for students to get involved and meet new people?

University support

Support is a big aspect of student life, so one thing to research when looking at universities is what support they can offer. Think about things like mental and physical health, academic support, finance, career and employability support, and so on.

If your child has any pre-existing mental or physical health concerns, then it’s always better to make sure a support plan can be put in place with the university, and to find out what would happen if certain scenarios were to occur, what actions would the university take, and would this be adequate support that suits your child’s needs.  

Finding the right course

It’s important to find a course that suits your child and where they want to go in the future. What are the entry requirements and is your child on track to reach them? Do the course modules sound fun and interesting to them? Are there any exams associated with the course and would they need to attend an interview before being offered a place? Will this course get them into their dream job?

These are all relevant questions to ask when researching, so that your child knows exactly what they’re looking to get out of a course and where it will lead them in the future. If the course doesn’t seem quite right, then make sure to get in contact with the university and ask some questions that will help them decide.

Campus size

Make sure to think about campus size when looking at universities. If your child gets overwhelmed easily, then it might not be a good fit for them to go to a large campus, or a university with multiple campuses.

Some universities are smaller, and they’d receive a much more tailored experience. But make sure this is something you’re all clear about beforehand.

Open days

Once you’ve got a list of universities that your child is interested in, make sure to go and visit them! You could absolutely love the look of a university from the information online, but once you get there you realise it’s not quite right. It’s always best to go and visit before deciding, don’t rush the decision!

Student ratings

Check student ratings online! Do a quick Google search and see what others are saying about the university. This might even help to bring up some questions to ask at an open day that you wouldn’t have thought to ask otherwise

You might also be able to speak to students when visiting on open days, so make sure to go with a list of questions. If you’re going to get honest answers from anyone, then it’s going to be other students.

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