Choosing a career path is a daunting prospect, and selecting the best course of study is an even more important decision. Particularly considering the potential costs involved. The following general guide might help.

Before you start, ask yourself -

What do you want to do with your life?
Are there any role models you identify with?
Do you lean towards being a more creative or technical individual?
Are there many courses available to you?
Are they local or are you prepared to move away and study?
Are you likely to achieve the minimum entry criteria?
Are you prepared to work very hard and make the most of any opportunities?
student girl thinking
When looking at the many courses and institutions delivering them, consider -

Does the institution have a good / successful reputation?
Will the option for extra social & study activities be available?
Do you know someone who has been there?
What is the campus like – Will you feel comfortable?
Check the course ratings using the UNISTATS web site. You will find every undergraduate course listed and you can compare the feedback from previous students. http://unistats.direct.gov.uk

Having selected a short list of options,

Read the college / university prospectus very carefully. Look beyond the glossy pictures of happy students.
Not all courses with the same title cover the same areas of study. Some are more technical than others but the edges are very blurred. A BSc should involve more engineering, technical theory and basic principles than a BA. This is not always the case. Ask to see a breakdown of the individual study modules and the type of work assignments and group projects undertaken.
Many students are at best vague about their aspirations and develop their plans while studying. Some courses offer a basic study package followed by a choice of specialised study options later in the course. Check out these options and the flexibility to move between them.
Some courses are less flexible however excel by specialising in specific areas of study depending upon the type of equipment they have and what links they have developed with industry. Does the course look like it really covers your area of interest and lead to your chosen profession?
Make sure you attend open days and go prepared to ask questions of the course team. They need you as well as you needing them.
Use the statistics from the UNISTATS web site to challenge the good and poor aspects of the course [Remember the numbers are just a guide for comparison to other courses and should not be seen as exact representation].
Ask to see work produced by past students.
Ask how much lecture time and group tutorials you will receive each week.
Ask to see the facilities and check when and how much time you will be allowed to use them each week.
Will you have the opportunity to work with and learn from students from other courses on shared project work?
On successfully completing a course, will your qualifications be recognised by employers?
Ask how many graduates from the course now work in the industry of their choice [Remember this is as much down to the student as the course].
How does the course link with local and national industry?
Are industry related visits provided and is industry involved with setting research projects?
Has the course been accredited by Industry?
Industry accreditation indicates that the institution has had the confidence to allow industry to inspect the content and mode of delivery and ensure its relevance to modern industry requirements.

NO qualification is a guarantee of work.
It’s down to you, the student, to make it happen.

Good luck,
It is your future.