And we’re back again, with my (probably not at all) eagerly anticipated ‘Applying for University’ series.
At this point, you’ve been back at school for about a month now, and all your teachers are up your arse about getting your UCAS started. And trust me, there will be more posts about that process very soon. I will not leave you just as the hard bit starts, I promise!
My advice for this point in time, would be to create your UCAS logins. That’s it. Go onto the UCAS site, take a look around at all the articles (they’ll be a lot more helpful than mine, I guarantee you), and get your logins sorted. You don’t have to start the application process; you don’t even have to think about it yet. But definitely make use of the resources available to you. Every single piece of information you can get from sources like UCAS (you know, the legit ones) are invaluable, and can help you to the Nth degree. So that’s my first piece of advice.
But the actual purpose of this particular post was to give you some advice about open days. In my last Uni Series post, I told you to start researching potential unis that you might be interested in, using things like league tables and just taking a look at different University’s websites. From these sites you’ve probably seen a lot of adverts for open days.
Please go to open days.
Obviously, it’s not always possible. And if you’re looking to move to the other side of the country, then it might not be the most convenient option to just go gallivanting off (great word) for the week. So, try to go to as many open days as possible. And, as many are held on Saturdays (and a lot of people looking to attend University probably work on weekends) try and work around your own schedule. Some unis offer ‘Guided Tours’, which aren’t open days necessarily, but are times during the week that you can visit and have a look around on your own, whenever you’re free.
Try to go to open days that you feel you really want to get a feel of. Some unis have Virtual Tours on their websites, or live webinars you can watch, as well as YouTube videos about the uni, so if there is really no way to get there, you can still get a sense of the place through these.
It’s really just about your own personal preference, whether you want to go and be surrounded by hundreds of other people in the same boat, or if you’re more nervous in these situations, then trying to find a way to take a look of a school that fits best for you.
However, the only reason I recommend going to Open Days above all else, is that they are simply the best way to see how life works around that particular place. And, when you’re at these open days, here are some of the main factors that you should be looking out for:
- The atmosphere/location of the Uni. Is it city-based? Or a bit more quiet? Does that suit your lifestyle/personality?
- What are the students like (and not just the student ambassadors that show you around, because they’re being paid to be there, but try striking up conversation with any random student you see, they’ll give you a real answer).
- What are the staff like? Do you think you’d get on?
- Do the facilities available look of a high standard for your chosen course? (Especially if you’re doing a science, media or sports-based degree)
- Does the course look interesting, and suitable for you?
- What is the accommodation like? Does the uni offer different types of accommodation, that would suit you more than halls, for example student houses for first years, or single-occupancy studio flats?
- What is the current level of student satisfaction? (Can also be found online here)
- Transportation allowances: are you allowed to take your car? Is there a free student bus service? Is everything close together or will you need to find a way around?)
- Are there nearby places that you could find a part-time job, if you are planning on looking for one?
- If you have specific dietary/lifestyle/disability/religious requirements, are your needs met by the university if requested?
Alternatively, possibly an even better way to check out a school, would be to stay there for a day or two, with someone who actually goes there. Last year, when I was looking at Universities, I considered going to Brighton. A few weeks earlier, one of my cousins had started at that Uni to study Aeronautical Engineering. I mean, it was absolutely not what I wanted to study, so he couldn’t really help me there, but I got to go to his shared house, meet some of his friends, check out the area, and see what student life is like on a quiet night (because we all know what it’s like on a messy one). Then the next day I went on a guided tour, got to see the facilities, and meet staff and students.
Unfortunately, (obviously), I didn’t end up having the best time at the open day, and Brighton didn’t end up being one of my final choices. However, that experience was unbeatable, and really gave me the best chance to look around, in a way that wasn’t just student ambassadors shoving me around and staff giving me weird smiles to try and get me to attend. I got to see what life there is like through an actual student’s perspective. Which was really cool.
Obviously, this whole thing is bloody scary. It’s absolutely freaking terrifying, and I understand. But taking it one step at a time is the best thing to do at this point. Try not to overthink it, because there’s probably a lot going on at school and stuff at the minute, and I promise it will all be fine!
Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it…
Thanks for reading, and look forward to the next post in this series (hopefully) next week!