Studying and making friends aside, university is a way of moving on your own terms and finding independence. It's a chance to experience life potentially in an entirely different part of the country.
Plenty of students based in the South decide to take their education to the North or the Midlands, and likewise, students who live in cities choose to take their studies somewhere quieter and more rural.
Not everyone does though, and almost as many students choose to stay local; picking the comfort of a family network over the liberty of an entirely new location.
The direction you take is, of course, entirely up to you. But just how close you want to be to your family and friends and just how much independence you want to have, is going to have a massive effect on your eventual choice.
So, should you stay or should you go?
- Leaving home offers you a clean slate, but it can be expensive and difficult. It’ll be a lot harder for your parents to support you, and you might have to find a part-time job to supplement your income.
- Living that far away from home will demand self-sufficiency. You'll have to buy food and budget for yourself. If you're not used to managing money, that can be a real challenge.
- You might also have to sever ties with your old friends. You won't be seeing them as often and it can be hard to maintain a relationship over long distances.
That’s challenging, but, for a lot of people, it’s worth it.
- It's a great way to develop life-skills, making yourself meaningfully autonomous.
- Employers love it, too. Research into graduate employment suggests that students who put themselves out there and move away from home have stronger job prospects than those who don't.
- More than any of that, you might not be able to stay at home. Some subjects are only offered at certain universities. The demands of your course and the potential restrictions of the local university might well force you further afield.
Of course, there's a middle ground. Some students choose a university 30 miles or less from home. That way, they can choose to live on campus for the first year, getting a taste of what it's like to live on their own without having to leave a support network behind. After first year, then, they're free to go back home and commute to the university from there.
Countryside or city?
If you do decide you want to move out, you’ve got another decision to make; picking between a city and somewhere quieter.
- Live in a city and you're going to have options. Somewhere like Newcastle will invariably have more clubs, restaurants, nightclubs and shops then somewhere like Chichester. Pick a city-based uni and you'll get access to the kind of booming nightlife small town students can only dream of.
- A city might also have more than one university – Leeds has three – that means more people, interesting people, doing more things.
- Accommodation in a city might be more expensive than in a town, or you might have to base yourself further away from campus, making those 9am lectures harder to get to.
- Cities tend to be nosier and you might find it harder to get work done in an environment so crammed with distractions. If you’re worried about focusing on your studies, a city might not be for you.
Choose a university somewhere smaller and you’re in for a very different experience.
- Your campus is likely to be located a little way out from the town or city centre. That's nice, it means you get to study in a quiet academic bubble, somewhere with a real sense of studious community, and it means your school life is distinct from the buzz of wider society.
- A rural campus might be quieter, not to mention picturesque; much better suited to cranking out literary analysis.
- The crime rates in a small town aren’t likely to be as high as in a bustling metropolis. You're probably going to be a little safer.
- you'll be limited. Campus universities and small towns won't have the variety of a major city. That might make it harder to find the deals that make student life liveable.
Like most things, it’s all up to you. Only you can choose between staying at home and flying the nest. For a little more help; here a few things you can check out;
- University profiles – get a sense of the feel of each university and its relationship with the local town.
- Open days – find out everything you need to make the most of your visit.
- Crime in student cities and towns – find out how safe your student city is.
Next page: Type and Size of University