When you apply to university there will be thousands of questions running through your head; you never know what decision to make for the better or how your life will turn out. But whichever path you choose will affect the rest of your life in one way or another, so think about it carefully. You only get one shot.

When I was applying, I thought of many different scenarios and answers to many different questions. The truth is, you can think about it until you’re blue in the face, but only you know what’s right for you. Here are some things that will undoubtedly be running through your minds:

Will I still see my friends – will we make the effort with each other now we don’t go to the same school?

A lot of people end up going to the same university as some of their friends; not being ready to let go and wanting to keep in touch, as it is clearly more difficult to do so when living in different cities. But do you really want the same friend group for your whole life? I know of people who have based their university decisions on the decisions of their friends, but honestly, if they still cared, they would still keep in touch. They’ll make new friends, and so will you. Isn’t that one of the points of going to university? Focusing on what you want is definitely more important than worrying about making friends, it’s something that will come naturally (trust me, I wasn’t sure I’d make friends either). University is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, and is definitely more important in the long run than keeping in touch with your old pals.

What course do I want to study? Do I choose something better for employment, or something I will actually enjoy?

This depends on your personal interests and ambitions. You may be lucky and enjoy the idea of a degree that will lead straight into a career; and you may not. However, nothing is worse than trying to make this decision with someone in your ear about what you should or shouldn’t do. The truth is, if you work at it and get the grades you need – and if you’re patient when searching for a job afterwards, something will come along. If not, at least you tried, right? Finding employment is hard no matter which course you choose (I am doing English literature myself, which has high unemployment rates), but if you’re doing a course that you hate just because you’ll get a job at the end of it, you’ve probably made the wrong decision; if you don’t like the course, you probably won’t like the job either.

How different will it be to school? Will I understand what I’m learning about?

The speed of learning at university is much faster than that of A-level standard learning. I think this applies to the majority of courses; a degree is a higher level of education, and is going to be harder. This is inevitable and should be expected. First year prepares you for the rest of your study at university, and it is a good idea to be prepared for this; the last thing you want is to work non-stop to pass your A-levels and then mess up your first year by drinking and partying. You won’t get those fees or those grades back.

What will the nightlife be like – does it miraculously improve because I’m a fresher?

The truth is, once you’ve been on one night out, you’ve been on them all. They’re exciting at first because you’re a fresher and you’re new to this, but it doesn’t last for long. Yeah, it’s fun and Student Union Bars generally put on a good night out, but when you’ve been to a different event every night of the week they’ll all become one of the same. They’re cheap, too – but not if you’re out every night! Yes, nightlife can be exciting, and you’ll have a good time with it, but don’t waste your whole student loan on it. And don’t risk your grades for it, either: if you don’t pass first year, your university career is over before it even started.

Do I move out, or shall I stay at home?

Again, this decision is entirely your own and it depends on what you want out of your university experience. Do you want the parties? Do you want long nights in the library? Are you ready to fend for yourself? Only you can answer these questions. I still live at home and I don’t regret it one bit – I don’t have to wash, do ironing or go to the supermarket!

Making the decision to apply to a certain university for a certain course is one of the most daunting tasks I have ever had to do. When you apply to university, your entire world changes. Sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.

The answers to these questions are, of course, different for every person. Consider them carefully and make sure you’ve made the right choice for you – who cares about what anyone else thinks? This is your shot, give it everything and hope for the best.

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