Choosing the Right University

For many students, selecting the right university can be an extremely daunting process. With new institutions popping up around the globe, where does one even begin to narrow down their options? Personally, I too was overwhelmed by this task, but it was eventually a mix of factors that reaffirmed my choice to study Pharmacy at King’s:

1. Laboratory facilities
It was imperative for my future institution to have state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, seeing as most of my programme revolves around lab work. I was drawn to the modern spectrometry devices available at King’s which mirror the industry standards used in the identification of complex molecules. It also greatly fascinated me that the anti-doping analyses for the 2012 London Olympics were carried out one floor below my chemistry labs!

One of the chemistry laboratories at King’s College.

2. Credentials of teaching staff
One thing that stood out to me when deciding between universities was the relevance of my lecturers’ research projects and clinical experience with the content of my modules. The prospect of being lectured by the same person who co-wrote a textbook in my reading list was mind-boggling to say the least! As I began to delve more into scientific studies in my final years, having pioneers of drug development guiding me at every step was more crucial than ever.

3. Services & support
Not having English as my native language coupled with me being an introvert led me to become rather apprehensive about fitting in at university. However, King’s made me feel entirely at ease with its numerous initiatives to reach out to international students, such as free weekly lunches at the Chaplaincy and Christmas social spaces for students not returning home for the holidays. My confidence in academic writing was also boosted by the services offered by the library and the English Language Centre.

4. History of the institution
It still astounds me to this day that Photograph 51, the crucial X-ray diffraction image that led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, was originally obtained at King’s. Knowing that my university contributed to one of the most fundamental breakthroughs in the scientific world continuously inspires me to delve deeper into this realm, and it makes me incredibly proud to even walk the same grounds that revolutionary scientists such as Rosalind Franklin and Peter Higgs had once traversed.

Rosalind Franklin, a biophysicist who was most famous for her work in X-ray spectroscopy.

5. Inter-professional learning
A perk of studying in an established university is the interconnectivity of the range of courses being taught there. This is especially relevant for healthcare courses, as students from different facets of the medical field are encouraged to share their specialist knowledge with their colleagues. Besides joint presentations, there are also hospital simulation sessions mimicking the multidisciplinary healthcare team in a ward. This is made possible not only by the wide coverage of healthcare courses offered at King’s, but also the many partnerships that the university has with London hospitals.

6. Societies
While your studies should be your top priority in university, it can be refreshing to veer away from that occasionally and partake in the many activities around campus. Being an avid music lover, the sheer number of music-related societies at King’s really sealed the deal for me. Since my first year, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in several musicals both on stage as well as behind the curtains in the composition department. I’ve also enjoyed volunteering in under-privileged schools across London, where I engage in one-to-one mentoring sessions with students.

Me with some of the cast members of the musical “Fame” held at King’s.

7. Location
Coming from a small town on the other end of the globe, it was a dream come true when I received an offer to study in London. I love the constant buzz of activity that pervades the city streets, as well as the fact that I’m right in the heart of it all! King’s is a stone’s throw away from the West End, and from my point above, you can imagine why this would appeal to me! The lush greenery in London parks provides a stark contrast to the towering skyscrapers in the city centre, and the River Thames which flows alongside two main King’s campuses is a sight to behold, particularly from the Waterfront Bar at the Strand campus.

8. Work opportunities
Although admission to most London attractions such as the British Museum and National Gallery are free, your living expenses certainly aren’t! However, King’s offers many opportunities for students to work on campus, be it serving coffee at the student-run café or representing the Students’ Union as a committee member. Of course, the student ambassador scheme, of which I have written at length in my previous blog entries, is also a flexible option for earning some extra cash on the side.

And that’s it! I hope that this has started to get you thinking about what you should look out for in a university, and I’ll be ecstatic if this has swayed you to come and join me at King’s! But whichever institution you choose, bear in mind that it’s not where you end up that defines your experience, but rather, how you make the best of what you have.

Boey Yik

I’m a third-year King’s pharmacy student who hails from a small town in Malaysia called Ipoh. I’ve been an international student ambassador for almost 3 years now and the best part of my role is being able to meet new students and counsellors from all corners of the world. A fun fact about me is that I’m a massive Mariah Carey fan, and I could probably sing on cue any of her songs in her repertoire!