When I was first beginning to think of University as a choice for further study, I had very little information as to how to go about it in the right way and what to actually do to apply. I find nowadays that schools are very pushy regarding getting students to apply to University's, but they tend to just sit back and let you get on with the applying alone, and never really seem to give much help with the process. Resulting in my friends and I feeling very confused.
As I have now almost completed my journey towards University (or College, if you're American), I feel I know a lot more about the process, and it may have just been my school that was like this, but I want to make sure that those who are at the age where they need to start thinking about further study, aren't confused or feeling forced into choosing University.
I have decided to start a series, on here and on my personal blog, where I run you through the steps of applying to University and UCAS, from the deciding what you want to study, to moving into your flat, but also want to help you decide if this really is the right decision for you. It may be what your school or college wants (mainly because they get money from the government for each student that gets a place), but is it really what you want? Later on in the year/next year, I hope to be blogging/vlogging my first experiences of University so you can get a first hand experience.
Making the Choice
First of all, you really need to look in detail at information about University and life there, as well as what kind of courses Universities offer. I will give you some good sites that give a good amount of information about what Uni is really like, and from there you can decide whether it is right for you. Everyone has different experiences and opinions of University life, so really take your time to read through all of these. It will also depend on the Uni you attend and what course you take.
Feel free to do your own Googling!
You also need to look at what you are studying currently and whether you like it enough to study it 24/7 (ish) for 3 or 4 years. If you are unsure, or don't like the subjects you are studying enough, then look at Colleges and what kind of BTEC courses they offer. If one of them tickles your fancy, then think about studying there for a year or two. And don't worry about the fact that people say that Uni's don't take students who have BTEC's instead of A Levels, this is mostly untrue. I did one year of AS Levels, left Sixth Form and studied a Performing Arts BTEC for a year and 3 Universities accepted me. My boyfriend did the same, and studied a BTEC Business course for another 2 years on top of that, he was accepted by all 5 of his choices and is going off to study at a really good university. If you show passion for what you want to do, Universities will accept you, regardless. They really aren't that snobby anymore, and they look more at UCAS points than the actual course you took, and if you have previously take AS or A Levels, this is a really good way to ensure you have a sturdy path towards University. College, I feel, is a lot more independent that Sixth Form, it definitely bridges the gap in the step towards a completely independent life at University.
Once you have decided the subject you want to do, you can then start looking at Universities. There are copious amounts of rankings for Universities under each subject, so you are best looking at them to find which Uni is best for the subject you want to do.
If you have an idea of which Uni you want to study at, then look at their rankings for your subject and decide from there. Try not to go to a Uni to close to home, as this gives you a lot more space from family and will allow you to be independent instead of having the constant temptation to go home whenever you feel like it. On the other hand, if you like the idea of having home a few hours drive/train ride away, then not going too far away is also a good idea. I am attending a Uni that is an hour and a half/2 hour drive away from home, but I also have a 20 minute Metro ride away from me, but that's just a personal choice for me.
Really look at the courses in detail: find reviews from students who have studied that course and their opinion. There are also websites that compare similar courses and different Uni's based on the opinions of the students and how their time there has been. Unistats compares Universities regarding the teaching quality, student satisfaction, rate of employment after the course, resources, etc. You can compare Universities side by side.
For UCAS, you can choose up to 5 Universities that you would like to study at. I suggest choosing as many Universities as you can. It means that you are less likely to have to take a gap year if you do not get into your few Uni choices (not that that is guaranteed to happen, but its always better to be on the safe side!)
Applying For UCAS
Once you have decided that you want to attend University for DEFINITE, you can then go through the faff that is applying for UCAS. Your school should help with the basics, but I will briefly go through them (well, as much as I can remember, its almost been 2 years since I applied!)
UCAS is the place where you will list all of your GCSE's and AS/A Levels you are currently studying. Your teachers can access this too. You will have to write a Personal Statement which will basically sell you as a student to the Universities you are applying to and show why you would be a perfect student on their course (there are hundreds of Personal Statement guides online, and your teachers and parents should help with this), create a list of all the Universities you want to study at and what course you want to take.
Once you have followed all the steps, you can then send off the form to the Uni's. Your referees will write a reference, which is also sent off to your Uni's.
That concludes my first Uni Guide post, I feel like I've blabbed on enough! I will be posting these every Friday o my personal blog and every Saturday on here. I hope these will be helpful for those of you considering to go to Uni. Feel free to ask my any questions :)
Iona :) x
Published by Iona Moss