My Guide to University: The Initial Steps

Sunday, 17 January 2016

I'm sure you're probably aware by now that yes, I did drop out of university. There are many reasons I did and if you want to read more about this then read my post here. With university tuition fees at a sky-high rate of £9000 a year (and talks of increasing in the near future) it's important that we make a well-informed decision about going to university. I thought I would share some handy tips I've learnt from going through the process of going to university.

1. Extensively research your course. 

I know it sounds obvious but do extensive research. Look at the module options - are they something you know you would enjoy? Is there a vast choice for you to study? If you would like to, does the course allow you to do a placement year in the industry? Or a study abroad semester/year? How many contact hours of seminars and lectures do you have?

You need to be ensuring you're choosing the right degree for you. Don't just choose a subject because you 'think' it's a good degree. Pick something that's a passion, not necessarily something that you think you might be good at - you'll have to study for 3 or 4+ years -so choose wisely!

There is so much pressure from society to go to a 'good' university and get a 'good' degree - and it's all rubbish. Make sure you choose a course you could see yourself enjoying - that's the most important thing! Oh and league tables - they're a bunch of rubbish too. 

2. Don't just visit the uni - walk around the area!

You have to bare in mind that although you may be primarily choosing a university for a specific course, it's wise to explore the local area and get a feel for the place you will be living in. Ensure the local area has all the amenities that you need.

What are the local food shops? Are there good transport links? Could you see yourself living there throughout your degree?

As important choosing your university and course it is, don't neglect looking around the local area - it could make a huge impact on your decision!

3. Check you'll have enough Student Finance in advance!

It's important to checking your student finance allowance well in advance to going to university. With university fees at a painful £9,000 a year, you want to make sure you're making the right decision.

On the DirectGov website there is a calculator for you to gain an estimate of how much funding your entitled to. It's important to gain an estimate, this way you can get an understanding if you need to be/how much money you need to be saving before going to uni. I would strongly advise this. 

Every little helps when you're a student, and if you currently have a part time job - think about saving a little each month, as the costs will all add up.

4. Check what Scholarships or Bursaries you could be eligible for.

Most universities have scholarship/bursaries on offer to their prospective students - these can be from sporting excellence, academic excellence or even being from the local area.

The government make it virtually impossible to go to university these days, with soaring costs which are set to increase in the future. Make sure you check what universities could have on offer for you - this could be a huge help towards your university life.

5. Accommodation. Accommodation. Accommodation. 

This is a scary factor when thinking about university - with lots of different types on offer. You need to ensure you've worked out the costs, and how you're going to pay it.

Think about do you really need to have your own bathroom? Or do you mind sharing with 6+ people, or would you prefer a smaller setting?

Write up a pros and cons list. This should give you a clearer idea of what you can afford, and what you would really like. Sometimes it's all about compromise - you might hate living with 9 people, but what you will love even more is the comfort of your own en-suite!

6. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.

Speaking from experience, there is a lot of hype about university being the best 3 years of your life. The constant partying. The great lifelong friends you'll meet. The potential to meet 'the love of your life'.

Yeah sure, university is a great experience and you gain so much independence. You learn some pretty great life skills too.

But don't pressure yourself - yes, there will be crap days where you won't leave your room all day and eat Nutella straight from the jar and sleep 14+ hours. And that's okay.

I'm thinking about making this a mini-series for the lead up of people heading to university. So like tips on what you need to take to uni, if you move out. General cooking tips or settling in - anything that you want really. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment below!

For now - lots of love Soph x

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