Getting Into University

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.

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Visit the accommodation. If you're moving away i'd really recommend having a look at all the accommodation options available at the same time as you're at open days as I know for me finding somewhere nice to live was more important than the actual course! It's best to look online as some universities are paid to recommend certain accommodations meaning that they won't tell you about others that are available. I know my uni's recommended accommodation looks a lot nicer on the website than it is in real life and it's not clear that's it's 5 miles away from campus in the middle of nowhere! I'm so glad I visited as I chose a better accommodation that is much closer and cleaner and i've made lots of friends while living there! (I can't promise that your first year accommodation will be as nice as the photos above but we can all dream!)

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!

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Order lots of prospectuses. These are the key to finding all the courses available and I know I found it easier to read them on paper rather than scrolling through university websites which aren't always easy to use. When you enter your details for a prospectus you'll probably be sent emails and letters about open days or course specific details which are really useful too. You might be given the opportunity to visit a UCAS fair so you could pick some up from there although I know everyone in my year just went for the free stuff!

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 :)
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Weigh up your options. Think about all the positives and negatives of each uni (distance from home, points needed, quality of accommodation, how much you like the area etc). One of the hardest choices I had to make were my firm and insurance ones. I chose a uni that I could commute to as my insurance so I wouldn't have to worry about last minute accommodation but picking my firm choice was really difficult. I had to choose between a uni 250 miles (nearly 5 hours) away and one 14 miles (30 minutes) away. They both had their positives and negatives but for me it was about whether i'd be prepared to travel so far away and how expensive it would be on trains etc to get home. Both unis had the same amount of points but one asked for specific grades for each subject including an A in business which I was doubtful that i'd get. I didn't want to risk not getting in there and then going to my insurance which wasn't really as good. In the end I chose the uni that was closer to home and i'm so glad I did! I got a B in business so the chances are that I wouldn't have got in which would have been a nightmare!
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Sort out student finance as soon as possible. Once you've chosen your firm and insurance choices it's really important that you sort out student finance. Yes it is long, boring and complicated but once it's done you know you'll have the money in time for the start of the year even though it seems a long time away. You'll need lots of important documents relating to your parents pay as well as details of your brothers or sisters so it's a good idea to get a parent to go through it with you as getting it done correctly the first time around will save you a lot of trouble. My mum actually printed off the full form and filled it in by hand and then we went through it online to make sure we didn't miss anything.

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 :)

7 comments

  1. very good post - i didnt find the open days useful - mainly because im lazy ha! but all good points and the extra email add - very good ide ax

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  2. great post Caz, I've firmed my place at Birmz and am starting on my finance and accomodation next week, and my school are stressing me out by only predicting me a C in the subject I need...great motivation, eh?! xx

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  3. Wow what university has that accommodation in their freshers halls?! I missed out on that! i couldn't agree more with what you said. It's so important to go around not only the university you think you really want to go to but a couple of others. When I went to Newcastle Uni on an open day I just knew that was where I was meant to be, luckily they were the first university that gave me an offer.

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  4. thanks for posting this! I did not even think of some of these!

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  5. This post would have helped me so much this time last year when I was applying to uni, such a good idea xxx

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  6. Thank you for you sweet comments on my blog lovely :) I love your blog xxx

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  7. I wish i came across this post when I was applying! What course will you be doing? Addicted to your blog!!

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    :)))

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