To continue my little life series, I thought I’d make a post about how to start off the ‘University Journey’. Sounds nice and easy, doesn’t it? Well, we’ll see.
You might be under the impression that your University life begins on the day you move into your student flat, or the day your place gets accepted. But in reality, the journey begins long before that. For most, it’s the start of their last compulsory academic year. For others, it could even have started years before that, when they started dreaming of the day they could move to Uni, and start their life independent and as an adult.
I’m speaking generally, of course. For a few people, they never even considered going to higher education, and then in the space of a few weeks they could be packing their bags. Everyone’s journey is completely different, but you should always be prepared, and make sure you enjoy the ride. (I’m sticking with this journey metaphor, I quite like it. Apologies.).
So, I’m going to stick with the group of those just mentioned that I can relate most to. The group that most of you will probably be in…
So you’re in your last leg of school or college. Whether that be A2 or a BTEC, you’re almost there. So when should you start thinking about uni? How do you start the process?
The answer is, really, that you’re already behind. But don’t worry! You’ve got plenty of time yet. You’ve had your amazing summer, and now it’s time to actually *gulp* think about the future.
To get to the actual point of this post, your first step is to Do Your Research! But where to start?
Here are some things to consider when starting your research about which University to go to:
- What do you want to study?
- What do you enjoy?
- What career would you like to have?
- Where would you ideally want to live?
- Do you want to stay at/near home? Or are you looking for a getaway?
Questions like these, while sometimes obvious, need to be asked, and ideally you should have some kind of idea in your head of where you might go and what you might do at uni before you start researching.
But, if you’re still clueless, have a think, write some ideas down, and start Googling.
For your chosen course, whether that be Art, English, Biology, etc, look up the league tables for that area of study, and have a think about whether the quality of the education in that subject is something that might sway you. If other things are more important to you, like a good social scene, or a good school for student satisfaction, or the best/biggest halls, try researching those things as well. Just try and keep in mind what is really important to you as a person when thinking about your next big step. Look at course modules (some universities may not study the specific area of the subject you want to, for example if you’re into media, specifically print media, and a Uni doesn’t have print as one of their modules, this may not be the best choice for you).
The next step, after doing some research, is to write down the best places that you’ve come across in your searches. Find out when their open-days are, and try your best to attend them. I know that this is impossible for some, like if you were looking at somewhere the other side of the country, but these experiences can be really invaluable.
I went to three open days when I was looking, at Bournemouth University, the University of Portsmouth, and the University of Brighton. The open days are usually well planned by those at the uni, and give you a good chance to look around both the actual uni campus, and the local area. This can give you a great insight as to how you might feel there, as well as getting a look into the student flats, and getting to speak to current students.
I believe most open days take place within September and October, however there is a chance – if you miss one – that you can contact the University itself and ask to be shown around yourself, by a member of staff, or a member of their Student Union. Any quality time you can get with the places you are looking is vital, because anyone will tell you that it is not a great idea to sign up for studying at a place that you have no idea about.
Finally, when you’re looking, make sure to refine the types of courses you are interested in, as many schools will offer a variety of courses within the same field. Take a look at the modules they offer, and how the courses work and think about which would be best suited for you.
And that’s it! That’s all my advice for the first step of applying to uni. If you want more info, make sure you look on the UCAS website for tips, ask at your school or college, or drop me a comment, it would really mean a lot and I’m happy to help!
Happy searching, til next week…