Visit, visit and visit. Go to the open days and ask plenty of questions; it may be hassle if your university is far from home, but the train ticket to visit is cheaper than dropping out after one term. Chat to some students for some honest first-hand experience of studying there.
Pick something you love. You will find that you work harder if you are passionate about your degree.
Learn your ABC - Accommodation, Buses and Countryside. It is important to venture outside the campus, look at the costs of buses, off-campus accommodation and the shops. If you are an outgoing person look to see what the area has to offer, concerts, sports events or would you prefer somewhere a little quieter?
Check out the support networks. Everyone wants to have an amazing time at university, but when the going gets tough it is important to have a strong support network around you. Find out what support services are on offer within the university.
When in doubt make a spreadsheet. Make a table of all the universities you have in mind and compare each across a range of different requirements that are important to you, from computer facilities to tuition fees. The university you choose should be the right one for you, not the right one for others.
Find out what careers your chosen subject can lead to and think hard about whether you can see yourself doing these options in the future?
If you are going far away pick a university that is easily accessible. It sounds obvious but a train journey involving several changes gets less and less appealing as the course goes on, not to mention the cost.
Your student loan won't go as far as you think. It should cover the bulk, if not all of your accommodation costs however it probably won't stretch to everyday essentials such as food, laundry and toiletries. Nor will is stretch to 'luxuries' such as nights out, going to the cinema or eating out. In the summer preceding the start of your first term at university it is advisable to get a summer job and start saving some money. You will find your savings invaluable extra support when it comes to day to day living at university. PS keep enough aside to purchase your NUS Extra discount card.
Trust your gut instincts. If you find fault or have a nagging feeling or there are things you are not comfortable with when you visit a university the possibly it is not the one for you. If on the other hand you liked the sound of the course and you liked the feel of the university and the local area then this is the place for you.