How do I know which university is right for me?

Deciding on a university can be hard when you don't know what to look for (Bursaries-SouthAfrica)

Choosing a university can be quite difficult if you have no idea what you should look out for. Take a look at the pointers below to help you make the right decision.

Choosing a university can be quite difficult if you have no idea what you should look out for. Take a look at the pointers below to help you make the right decision.

What does the course content consist of?

Every university is different - while the courses might have the same names, the content will differ. To find a good job in your desired field, you might have to attend a university that specialises in dentistry, for example. Take accreditations into consideration when making a choice as most companies want to see this.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you gone through the course content in detail?

  • What else can you do to find out more about the course to figure out whether or not it’s a match?

    How are students assessed?

    For the industry you’d like to work in, what works best in terms of proving yourself for the job? Would you need to do lots of practicals to get noticed or is it more of a theory based field you’re looking to go into? Also, what type of assessment works best for you?

    A few questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of assessment best suits you? Group assignments, practicals, exams or presentations? Most universities could include all of these in different percentages.

  • Before deciding on a university that you may attend for three years or more, visit their website and look at the percentage of each assessment type.

    Marks are a big factor

    Every university has their own key requirements – as part of your application you may have to write a test, attend an interview or ensure that your marks are above average. Do yourself a favour and look at the admission requirements well in advance to ensure that when the time comes to submit your application, you’re not caught off-guard.

    A few questions to ask yourself:

  • The subjects that you currently have – are they good enough to get you a spot in the course you want to study? What do your marks look like – are they good, poor, or average? You have to ensure that every assignment, every test and every piece of studying you do at school is good enough to get you into your first choice university.

  • If you fail to meet the requirements of your first choice, do you have a back-up plan with lower submission requirements?

    Where is the university based?

    If you don’t have a car or a reliable means of transport, you might want to consider going to a university that is closer to home or that is conveniently situated close to public transport.

    A few questions to ask yourself:

  • If you had to stay late to complete a group assignment, which is a very likely situation, how will you get home? Is the university in a based in a safe area? Is the transport reliable? Or should you rather consider staying at the campus?

  • Have you been to the various open days? What is the environment like? Do you see yourself there every day for three or more years?

    Reputation matters

    The reputation of a university matters – especially once you enter the job market. A “good” university will have top pass rates and be well-recognised in the job place. Take a look at the courses, assessment methods, accreditation, and application requirements to understand whether or not the university is worth considering.

    A few questions to ask yourself:

  • While the main universities will always be on top of everyone’s list, it’s worth considering attending a university that specialises in the career field that you’d like to pursue. Have a look around and see what’s best for you.

  • Speak to students who have studied at the universities you’re thinking of attending – did they enjoy it? What were the assessments like? Are the lecturers helpful? What is the pass and failure rate? These are all important questions that will help you to make an informed decision.


  • Paying for university studies: Student loan 101
  • Answers to matriculants' questions

  • Top tips to apply for a bursary

  • Help! I don't know what to study