2017 Entry… Already?

University ProspectusesWith universities still considering thousands of applications for 2016 entry, who is – or should be – turning to next year’s entry?

Firstly, universities! Student recruitment teams or – dare I use the term – marketing departments have been planning for 2017 entry since the summer of last year. Prospectuses (it’s not, and never was, prospectusi) have been written, designed and printed, and recruitment campaigns have been researched, planned and are about to be delivered.

Secondly, students. Or rather it should be. Many in their first year of AS/A level or IB study are still coming to grips with the higher academic level and greater intensity of learning, and therefore put all other things to one side in order to concentrate on achieving the performance necessary to score decent grades.

However the savvy 16/17-year-olds out there have already begun researching their university and course options, and rightly so, for the next few months will fly by. Before many students know it, summer will have been and gone, applications will open up and deadlines will be approaching. Fast!

In that case, what should a non-savvy student be doing now in order to make her/himself as savvy as the savvy students? Firstly… thinking!

Students should be taking a step back from the never-ending cycle of lessons, homework and assignments, and use some quality time to consider their next academic selection. Choosing the course is far and away the most important decision to make when heading to university, and careful consideration takes time.

For some, it’s an easy decision – ‘I’ve always wanted to be a doctor’ or ‘Mechanical engineering has been my choice for 5 years now’ – but for the majority, it’s a haystack of thousands of degree programmes without a shiny needle poking out the side.

And why is the course the most important decision? Because that’s what a student will be spending the vast majority of time at university doing, whether it’s attending lectures, tutorials, research in the library or completing assignments. If the course choice is wrong, then the 3+ years at university is, more than likely, going to be a miserable and potentially lonely experience.

This is not to diminish the importance of selecting the right universities to include in an application, and choosing carefully the cities where at least 3 years will be spent (in one of them) living and socialising, as well as studying, but the course should be the primary concern.

The internet is, of course, the main research tool these days, and universities have invested heavily in their online prospectuses, virtual open days, clickable campus tours and ‘taking heads’ videos of delighted students happily discussing why their course at that university is simply the best thing that’s ever happened to them. Ever!

Thankfully however, in this age dominated by technology, there is still a place for good old face-to-face human interaction. Universities are already advertising their forthcoming open days for 2017 entry – indeed some occur this month – and for UK students the series of UCAS exhibitions is about to begin.

Tomorrow and Thursday, hundreds of university representatives will speak with thousands of students at the Manchester Central exhibition venue, and over the course of the next 9 months, a further 50 exhibitions will be held to enable students to pick up prospectuses and ask university representatives about courses, academic options, entry requirements, and of course student life.

Now is definitely the time to be considering 2017 entry.

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