In many of our previous articles, we’ve stressed the importance of university research as a first step in the application process.
But sometimes telling students to ‘do their research’ can be a bit of a throwaway line and doesn’t always acknowledge the obstacles that they face when starting the process of choosing a university.
For many students, and by association their teachers and guidance counselors, university research is really hard. There are a number of reasons for this:
- The university marketplace is becoming more globalised, meaning there are more options to choose from, but it’s also hard to know where to start.
- The Internet, whilst being a super-fast and convenient resource, in some ways, makes university research feel like a manual and complex process.
- Whether it’s focusing on university rankings, or choosing universities based on external pressures from parents and families, students may start their research with a few pre-existing biases and misconceptions.
In 2021, choosing a university has become even harder. Though hopefully the world will look very different by the time these students graduate, travel restrictions due to COVID-19 means that they are unable to visit universities to get a feel for the campus and its atmosphere.
When faced with the problems we listed above, students can feel overwhelmed or disheartened, and may approach university research with very little structure and purpose. This can mean that they don’t always approach the university application process with the necessary clarity about why they want to study at a particular institution.
Guidance counselors and school careers advisers often tell us that they don’t always know where to start when helping students begin their university research, especially if they already have existing preconceptions, or aren’t very engaged in the process.
That’s why we’ve put together a simple, three-step plan to help your students structure their university research and ask the questions that will lead to more informed decisions. These three steps comprise leading questions, designed to help get students thinking about their personal preferences and to help structure their research as they start shortlisting universities.