Moving away to University is a BIG step and something I found rather difficult. So difficult in fact, that I postponed the whole ordeal for a year before attempting to study something I’d always sought a career in, journalism. However, while the prospect of actually moving to a new city, making new friends, getting my head around new topics of study and leaving my family for long periods of time was scary enough, so was the application process and understanding all the jargon that went with applying for finance, different Universities and putting together my personal statement.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Halifax via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Halifax.
I recently teamed up with Halifax to assist dispel and define some of the complicated jargon that goes alongside understanding mortgages, interest rates and finance related aspects – and it was so successful, I thought I’d apply it to everyday life too – or at least, in terms of applying to University. I’ve actually already written a kind of ‘glossary’ page for complicated related terms (see here) but I thought I’d add a few of my tried and tested tips as an addition below, just in case you’re in the process of applying – or are thinking of applying in the Autumn and are a little daunted by the prospect.
- Before you start looking at any Universities, first you have to decide what you want to study. It’s quite a basic rule of thumb, but one that often gets lost in the midst of looking at campuses up and down the country and sifting through all the various paperwork. Although the town and city are important, the course itself is often overlooked and this can be a major influencing factor when you actually arrive and decide you don’t like it. I didn’t pay enough attention to my ‘units’ or modules, which I’d actually be working towards sitting exams in – and in hindsight, if I’d have looked closely at the ‘Law’ module, my decision may have been swayed otherwise. Make sure you thoroughly research online in terms of ‘Student Satisfaction’ (this is a great way to deem whether students are pleased with how their course is run) and ‘Graduate Employment’ (or how many of their students actually get a job upon graduation). There are many factors to consider, but please prioritise this one – as it is often overshadowed, but it shouldn’t be!
- Personal Recommendations. If you know someone who is on a course that you’re thinking of studying (even if you happen to come across them on Twitter), I would whole heartedly recommend sending them a message and enquiring about their honest thoughts, as they will give you the insiders scoop on what it’s like, rather than any sugar coated prospectus. Of course, it’s still worth taking a look yourself – as different Uni’s are liked by some more than others, however I wish I enquired more about my course beforehand as although I’m glad I’m here – I wish I’d been more prepared for how intense it is!
- Your personal statement is the most important part of any application and took me a good two weeks to write, polish and perfect. Since you’re only able to write one single statement, which covers all of the Uni’s you apply for – you have to make sure it’s both specific and general enough to capture the attention of your favourites, but be relevant to all five options that you’re applying for. I started out by talking about what inspired my interest in the ‘busy, bustling and fast paced world of journalism’ before continuing on to talk about my work experience, favourite aspects of the field and finally, what I could offer them. I think it’s important to be both appealing and honest. If you use all the CV cliches, it doesn’t make for very interesting reading. Write something that you would enjoy reading, make it interesting – formal, but fun.
- You won’t hear back straight away but when you do, you will either be given a ‘conditional’ offer or be declined. A conditional offer means that the place is yours on the condition of a set number of grades, in specific subjects. You then choose your favourite choice – your ‘firm’ offer and one ‘insurance’. On results day, should you receive those grades, your firm will turn to ‘Unconditional’ and the place is yours or should your grades fall below, it will be at the discretion of the admissions offices. The majority of people I know who have a grade less than was expected, have all been accepted in – so it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get what you needed, however it was the jargon that confused me – I’d actually been accepted but I thought I’d been declined!
- Once you know, you can start applying for accommodation and prepare for your new student life!
University is a very exciting time – but for many it’s the most nerve wracking experience of their life (me included). I cried the entire way down to Bournemouth as silly as that sounds, but as soon as I arrived – and saw everyone else unloading their items into their new hall bedrooms, it was like a weight had been lifted. I wasn’t on my own and everyone else was in the same position as me! For the first month, I felt like I was living a bit of a double life and it was so odd calling two places home.
After the initial mad freshers period, I settled in a bit more – and didn’t go out as much – which is more so what I’m like normally. I’m really glad I made the push and actually went to University but I do completely empathise with those making the move too, as it’s hard! If you’d like to read my rather hilarious diaries of my first couple of weeks at Uni (whereby my hand nearly fell off due to poisoning myself with washing powder, burning all my food and sobbing to sad songs all alone) you can do so here.