This post isn't really for everyone but it's been sitting in my drafts for a while and I thought i'd post it in the hope that it might help someone. Getting into university isn't easy but not only do you have exams to go through, you also have decide on the course and university that you want to go to. I didn't have a lot of support or advice along the way and I felt a bit lost about what I was doing which meant I left things a bit later than I would have liked. I thought i'd share a few things I learnt along the way to help anyone currently making their choices.
Open days are really important. You can't go to too many open days. There are lots throughout the year and they're so useful in finding out more about different courses but more importantly what each university is about. Book them as early as you can even if you're not 100% sure what course you're wanting to do. A lot of the time there will be people there that can advise you on the course that would be most suitable. Obviously if you're looking at unis that are quite far away it's not always easy to travel to open days so order prospectuses and have a look on the website for a good idea. For me, I chose my first choice based on the open day; one university had lots of people who wanted to talk to you and made you feel valued as a student and the others didn't give you many opportunities to talk to staff and you felt like a name on a piece of paper instead.
Write your personal statement as soon as you can. Writing my personal statement was such a chore and it seemed to drag on forever as I could never motivate myself to do it! There are lots of good websites that can help you and hopefully your college or sixth form will offer you a bit of support too. My sixth form made a big deal about the importance of your personal statement but looking back I don't think it has much of an impact on getting an offer from a uni so make sure you work hard at getting good grades more than anything.
Make a new email address. This should be purely for uni related things and will make it a lot easier to check UCAS, respond to unis and get all the info you need without it getting lost amongst 'New in at Topshop' and all your other emails!
Be yourself. Don't choose the unis your friends are picking and equally don't do the same course they're doing unless it's something or somewhere you've had your heart set on. Uni is about becoming independent and growing up and you don't want to get a few months into your course and realise you should have picked something different. When you get there you'll be nervous that you're on your own but you'll make new friends and you'll be glad you didn't go with your friends from college or sixth form. A few of my friends went through clearing and ended up going to the same uni as me and although I expected to see them lots its not really been like that. If you're worried that you won't make new friends because you're going to the same uni as people you know through no fault of your own then as long as you're not sharing a flat you'll still meet lots of new people :)
If you've already made your choices then you might find my University Advice post from last year helpful too. I hope this was useful and if you have any questions or your own advice to share feel free to write it below :)