5 Tips to Help Students Make Higher Ed Decisions
Choosing the right higher education institution is one of the most important decisions a student will have to make in their lifetime.
Whether they are exploring their post-16 options, choosing a major for their higher ed journey, or learning to start their career afterwards, these decisions are hard. But now they are more difficult than ever. There are more options at post-16 with the introduction of T-Levels and the increase in apprenticeship opportunities. In addition to Higher Education providers and degree courses in a rapidly changing labor market.
Plus – there is an abundance of information. The Internet has made an enormous amount of information available in a few clicks. This overwhelming quantity of content has the effect of making decisions harder, rather than easier.
Helping a student with their decision making is not easy. But based on our knowledge within career guidance, we’ve established our five top tips to help students make higher ed decisions:
1. Promote self-awareness
The absolute first step in helping a student make well-informed decisions about their future is to help them reflect on the following three things:
- Interests – what do they enjoy doing at school and outside of school?
- Aptitudes – what are they good at? Are they better with practical tasks or more theory-based tasks? Are there any particular subjects they excel in?
- Personality – what kind of environments or tasks best suit their personality?
If they don’t understand who they are, what they are good at, and what they enjoy doing, then it is very difficult to make effective decisions.
2. Explore opportunity-awareness
Research is vital at this stage of the career planning process. However, finding good quality, impartial information is very hard.
Universities are marketing to young people constantly, and parents and advisors sometimes have motivations or metrics that mean they guide a young person towards a particular profession, type of university, or course.
A lack of quality information and impartial guidance can have a hugely detrimental effect on good decision making.
Some of my favorite information resources to signpost students to are:
Taking advantage of the information that is out there will help students make a decision that isn’t influenced by others.
3. Embrace peer-to-peer decision making
It’s important that students seek out a range of activities and experiences before finalizing their choices.
UCAS Fairs, University Open Days, work experience, and insight events are all great ways to help with the decision-making process.
Seeking out advice from a range of different people is also important. Students tend to turn to their parents, teachers, career advisers, and their peers for advice.
Peer-to-peer is particularly effective because their peers are either going through, or have recently gone through, exactly the same process of making life-changing decisions about their future.
One of the most frequently asked questions from students is to be put in contact with a student from their preferred university. Peer-to-peer is something that students want to embrace and it can be a very powerful tool in decision making.
In fact, a recent report by Intead revealed that for many students, peer-to-peer insight is more influential than even family and friends.
4. Provide personalized advice and guidance
Advice and guidance should not be generic – it must be personalized. It should be based on a student’s own unique personality, interests, and aptitudes.
This is why step one is so important! Students often ask, “what job should I do” or “what university should I go to” but these questions can only be answered by the students themselves. Students need to feel empowered to learn more about their own unique skills and interests and from there, advisors, family, and peers can then help them explore opportunities that align with these traits.
This is not an easy process but the earlier a student can be encouraged to start thinking about their higher education future, the better.
It is equally important for students to understand that decisions often change and what you thought you wanted to pursue might change from year to year; which is all a perfectly natural part of the process.
There are, of course, specific courses and professions that require a very particular set of qualifications, yet the majority of courses and professions are more interested in the transferable skills you have gained from a course or job.
In fact, over 70% of graduate employers in the UK are open to applicants from any degree discipline. This is because they value the transferable skills gained from any degree subject.
5. Tech-enabled decisions
Let’s face it, students love technology (maybe too much at times!).
Technology is contributing to the problem of overwhelming students with too much information, but it can also be such a powerful tool in making good decisions and therefore, it needs to be embraced.
Throughout the decision-making process, technology is invaluable. However, there are some excellent psychometric tools to help students reflect on their personality, aptitudes, and interests. Plus, you can find lots of excellent career and university exploration tools online to help with the opportunity awareness stage.
H2: How Unibuddy helps students make informed higher ed decisions
Peer-to-peer chat is an extremely useful practice within higher ed decision making and Unibuddy has the perfect tool. Unibuddy Chat allows prospective students to connect with current students at the university of their choice.
While the current students won’t inevitably be able to make their higher ed decisions for them, students can help gather personalized information to help them confirm and refine their higher ed options during the decision making process. The opportunity to ask questions, gain insight, and create a relationship with a current student is priceless, and Unibuddy makes all this possible.
Want to learn more? Book a demo and see Unibuddy Chat in action!