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Choosing a Course and University

Trying to decide what and where you want to study? Here are a few things you can do to get started with your search. Plus, there's our really helpful How to get into University Guide — it'll make your decisions much easier to handle.

UCAS Course Search

Use the UCAS course search feature to get some ideas — you can enter keywords (e.g. ‘animals’) and see what comes up.

University Websites

Look at university websites to find information like course descriptions and accommodation options. A university’s social media presence can also give you a feel for the type of community and events they have.

University League Tables

Consider university league tables like those published by The Complete University Guide and The Guardian. These are great for getting a general feel of how good a university is.  You can also sort by different criteria like student satisfaction and how much money is spent on the facilities.

Open Days

Go along to open days or attend virtual open days to get an impression of what life is like at each university you’re considering. You can find a list of open days across the UK here.

Everyone has a different journey

Here are some real experiences from CGP friends and family to get you thinking. Thanks very much to those who've taken the time to write these for us!

English with Creative Writing

University of Birmingham >

"Find a course that excites you"


Durham University >

"Pick somewhere you'll be happy"

English Literature

Huddersfield University >

"I had to go through Clearing"


Durham University >

"Apply to places that fit your priorities"

Electrical Engineering

Engineering Apprentice >

"I decided university wouldn't suit me"

English Language and Literature

University of Oxford >

"I really enjoyed my interview experience"

Gap Year and Archaeology

University of Sheffield >

"My gap year was the best thing"


St George’s University of London >

"You only need one offer"

Personal Statement

Submitting your Application

If you’re applying to study full-time at a UK university, you’ll use UCAS to submit your application — the great thing about this is that you only need to complete one application rather than sending a separate one to each of your chosen universities.

Writing your Personal Statement

As part of the application process, you’ll have to write a personal statement — this is your chance to explain why you’re interested in studying the subject you’re applying for and to show admissions officers why they should choose you.  There are lots of ways you can show that you’re a desirable student, including:

  • Writing about any relevant hobbies and the skills you’ve developed
  • Discussing work experience or volunteering and what you’ve learnt from it
  • Talking about any extra courses or qualifications you’ve done — for example, you could complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), go on a summer school or try a free online course like a MOOC or a FutureLearn course
  • Mentioning wider reading or listening and how it’s furthered your interest

Financial Support

Tuition Fees

You’ll need to pay tuition fees and living costs while you’re at university.  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help fund your time there:

  • Tuition Fee Loans
  • Maintenance Loans
  • Grants, scholarships and bursaries
  • Part-time work (although we’d avoid running a sloth walking service)
Student Loans

Student loan repayments work like a tax — the amount you repay each month is based on how much you earn, not how much you borrowed.  You can find more info by visiting the Student Finance website for your area: England | Wales | Northern Ireland | Scotland.

The best guide to applying to uni — with no lectures!

It's packed with over 80 pages of no-nonsense info and advice to help you through every step of the journey.

From picking the perfect course, finding out about financial support, to writing an outstanding personal statement that'll help you stand out from the crowd. We'll give you the best chance of dazzling the uni's you're applying to!

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