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What to think about this month - May 2015

In this month's newsletter: revision, exams and moola...

We hope you're not too stressed out with the sudden onslaught of exams. They'll be over before you know it, if it weren't for them, your dream university will stay just that – a dream. 

But don't completely forget about the next steps. If you're in Year 13, the deadline for Student Finance applications is fast approaching.

And if you're in Year 12, it's worth researching universities and courses long before you start the UCAS process next academic year. Time spent planning will mean a better choice and no panic in a few months’ time. It can be like window shopping: all fantasy and no decisions necessary yet.

If you're in year 12

If you're in year 13

In the news

If you're in Year 12

Exam season is here, not that we need to tell you. If you missed any of our revision tips in last month’s newsletter, catch up here.

In between revising and crying, it’s worth thinking about what you're going to do during that time after you’ve finished your exams but before the start of the summer break.

Many schools and colleges pack out a programme of activities for their students, or maybe you’re planning a little well-earned chill time. Either way, it’s a good idea to schedule some uni visits among your post-exam recovery to check out what they’re really like, beyond the photoshopped blue skies in their prospectus or what your brother’s mate said.

Unis usually hold several official open days a year, but you don’t have to wait most are happy for you to come any time. If you let them know you’re coming, they may be able to help you make the most of your trip. Besides, it's only polite. You'll definitely need to book appointments if you want to chat to any of your potential lecturers – something that would be well worth doing if you can. A great way of finding out about the course and you'll mark yourself down as a serious candidate.

But don't let them only show you what they're most proud of. What will be important to you? How does what's on offer suit you? Could it be a place you'd call home? You're going to be spending three or more years of your life in this place, and you're going to be paying quite a bit of money to do so. If you're not happy with it after an hour, imagine how you'll feel after a year. You can use your visit to answer some of the other questions about university life you'll find some here.

Of course, you can’t visit all 140-odd universities during this time. In fact, getting to even 4 or 5 will be a pinch. How do you decide which ones are worth the train fare? Luckily, our Uni Chooser can help you narrow down your choices and help you produce a shortlist of unis that will be worth the shoe leather.

If you're in Year 13

The deadline for students in England to apply for student finance is 31st May.  So if you haven’t completed your application, do it very soon.

You can still apply after this deadline, but there’s a chance that you'll get to uni before the money does. You might find yourself starting uni with only a jar full of pennies and Euro cents left over from your holidays.

There are two flavours of loan you can apply for:

Tuition loan: This covers the cost of the course itself. It goes straight from the Student Loans Company to your university, so there's no temptation to squander it on a jet ski on something.

Maintenance loan: This goes towards everything you need to live, such as rent, bills, food, travel, textbooks, nights out, ice creams on a sunny day, that top you just love etc, etc. How much you get will depend on what money you or your family earns and where you're studying. If it's not enough, you or your parents are expected to make up the rest. 

The maintenance loan will be split into three chunks, and given to you over the course of each year. Each chunk can look like a lot of money to get all at once, but it disappears faster than curry at a stag night. That's why it's important to put together a budget. You can find more help on the financial side of university, here.

If you need an extra bit of help, you should also now be applying for grants. Grants are Government cash that help you out on top of your maintenance loan but you don't have to pay any of the money back! Sound too good to be true? Well it just might be... not everyone will qualify for a grant.

While you’re thinking about how much uni might cost, it’s also worth considering how much you might earn after you’ve got a degree. You can do that by taking a look at BestCourse4Me.

TOP TIP: There are often loads of other bits of funding (such as scholarships or bursaries) that you can apply for from your uni. They'll all have different criteria and deadlines, but check with your chosen unis what they've got and what you need to do to get it. A good place to start looking is The Scholarship Hub, which allows you to search unis for details or scholarships and bursaries. You can find more about them, here.

What's New?

UCAS to the rescue?

Perhaps all this talk of revision and exams and results and blah… blah… bleugh got you just a tad stressed? Maybe you’re starting to weigh up your options should Plan A not, erm, go to plan. Good idea. If things don't quite work out, knowing the steps to take will get you ahead. 

This year UCAS is relaunching its clearing service with a new feature. In the past, if you didn't get a place you wanted, it was all up to you to look for unis with spaces and see if they'd offer you a place through clearing. Now, if you sign up to clearing, the unis can chase you as well and send you messages about vacancies you might want to consider. It might take the hassle out of the process or it may end up as a spammers' charter. In any case, don’t let the flattery convince you to say yes to a uni that isn’t the right choice for you.

In the news

Revise your revision technique

We’re sure that, at this stage, you will be up to your eyeballs with revision… To avoid it all getting too much to cope with, schedule some well-earned down time. That's according to none other than the Association of School and College Leaders (headteachers. in other words). The deputy general secretary of ASCL said “It’s very difficult for young people to keep going during the exam period. It’s like running a race: you have to pace yourself so that you don’t run out of steam when it comes to examination time.” Sound advice.

Secure your place at uni

Our sincerest apologies for the punning headline. A recent study has revealed the safest places to study. Worth a look, possibly for your parents too, especially if you’re the first of your brothers and sisters to fly the nest. Safe unis are dotted all around the country, claims the report, but the safest of all is Royal Holloway in Egham. With 57 crimes per 1,000 residents, Egham pales in comparison to the average of 99 crimes per 1,000. Who knows, Royal Holloway might even be a perfect fit for you.

Spot the misteak

A recent survey carried out amongst business leaders has revealed the four things employers find most annoying when reading your CV. Any guesses for what came top with 87% of those asked saying they found it a real no-no? You got it, spelling and grammar mistakes. So ask a friend, teacher or parent to read your CV or UCAS statement to make sure you haven’t missed anything. It’s bound to happen. The three other most annoying CV-no-nos were incorrect information, missing contact details (eh, how are they meant to get in touch?) and it all being too long. You've been warned.

Last updated on: 18 May 2015

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