Choosing the right course?

There are so many great courses on offer, it can be hard to know where to start! Here are some things that young people should think about before they make their 5 choices on the UCAS application.

Which subject to study?

If they aren’t sure, a good start is the free Stamford Test on the UCAS website. This suggests the courses your child might be interested in studying and also where they can study them.

Have a look through prospectuses, which are brochures of courses available directly from each college or university. You can usually access the same information on their websites.

If the young person has a particular job in mind, it’s a good idea get advice before applying. Guidance teachers and careers advisors are a brilliant free source of help and advice. is a great site for student job advice. If they have any questions, contact the college or university directly and ask!

Prospects Careers Info
Order up to 10 free prospectuses

What level - College or Uni?

Do they want to start at college first doing an HNC (1 year) or HND (2 years)? That way they can earn qualifications, build up confidence before Uni, and even start university with "advanced standing" (i.e. go straight into year 2 or even year 3). See 'College to Uni' or our booklet 'Stepping Higher'.

If they’re ready for University straight away, you can find out the grades they’ll need on the UCAS course search or in prospectuses.

UCAS Course search
Stepping higher – College to Uni

Which Course is Best?

Check what the course involves in prospectuses - even if two courses have the same title they will be taught differently. For example, an English course could focus on grammar or literature. Which would they prefer?

Go along to open days where they can get a tour, meet the department, talk to current students, ask questions and get a feel for the course. See or the institutions' websites.

Finally, league tables can be a handy guide but don’t worry too much if the course they want to do isn’t right at the top - the most important thing is that everyone finds the course and institution that is right for them. - Book Open Days
UCAS Course Choosing Advice
The Complete University Guide
Good University Guide