Should students be more careful when using social media?


What should I be doing this month?

What to think about this month - September 2015

In this month's newsletter: You've got your new pens, notepads and timetable. Just one more thing and you'll be all set. Our newsletter.

School or college may have only just restarted, but the uni train is starting to roll out the station. It's a good time to be thinking about what and where you want study if you're in year 12 or 13, and if you already know, then it's time to get your application started.

If you're in year 12

If you're in year 13

In the news

If you're in Year 12

With over a year to go before you apply, the whole uni decision may seem to be approaching slower than a slug on a Sunday. But before you know it, that gross silver slug slime could be all over you. What with all the coursework, revisions, exams, holidays, birthdays/bar mitzvahs/weddings, nights out, time spent on social media and so on, it's never too soon to get focused. Now is a great time to be thinking about two of the big questions: what do you want to study and where do you want to study it?

First things first, choose a course you’ll be happy doing. You’re going to spend a lot of time and money on this. It might as well be something you enjoy... otherwise what’s the point? If you enjoy your course, it'll make the decision of what career you might be interested in a heck of a lot easier when the time comes. 
Or, if you know the career you want, choose the course to help you get it. For some careers — being a doctor or architect, for instance — there’s a certain degree you have to study, but those jobs are the exception. Sometimes, the course that looks right isn’t even always the best one, let alone the only one. For example, by all means do media studies if it interests you , but don’t imagine it’s a guaranteed passport to a job in TV. You might do just as well with English, politics or even sciences. Also, if you fancy yourself as a CSI type, chemistry may be at least as good as forensic science. You can check out our friends at BestCourse4Me to see what takes you where.
Most graduate jobs don’t require any specific course, which takes us back to the importance or studying something you’ll be happy with. You’ll probably also get better grades if you enjoy your studies. Having said that, if you’re after money, sciency-type courses do tend to offer a quicker return on your money, but who wants to earn money if it’s doing something you hate?  
*Warning* Keep in mind that no two degrees are the same, even if they have the same name. Studying a history degree at Essex might be completely different from History at Exeter, just as Birmingham is a very different from Brighton

TOP TIP: The best way to see if a university is the right one for you is to visit some. Of course, you can't visit 140 but using the Uni Chooser can help you narrow it down to a list of five or six that would be worth a visit. Most unis do a few open days a year but if you can't make it, most will accommodate visits from possible future students year round. Many schools will allow students to take time off to go to university open days – if you haven't heard anything about it yet, it's worth asking.

If you're in Year 13

If you’re thinking of going to uni in September 2016 and you haven’t got a shortlist yet, you’d better get yourself measured up for a thinking cap pretty fast.

Officially, you’ve got until January 15th to complete your application for most courses, but the deadline for Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary courses is only a month away.

Even if you’re not planning on applying for those courses, unis will start looking at and accepting applications from now, and so leaving it any later than the middle of November is cutting it fine. By then, the unis' firm 'yes' and 'no’ piles will be starting to grow. Some offers will already have been made. Some courses may even be full already. Leaving your application till the last minute tells the uni you're not that serious.

If you know where you want to apply: It's time to start crafting the perfect personal statement.

The personal statement on a UCAS form is your chance to convince the admissions people that there’s a lot more to you than exams and a date of birth.

Many universities have given up doing interviews (some never even started) because, as student numbers increase and funding dwindles, they simply don’t have the time. That means the 47 lines in the personal statement are more important than ever in fluffing up your feathers and peacocking as only you know how. The uni’s website or the course page on UCAS will tell you what they’re looking for. Show them you’ve got it. 

Never be afraid of the 3 B’s: boasting, bragging and bigging up your wondrous attributes and talents. Imagine what your mum or dad a.k.a your biggest fans would write about you. Work on the basis that, if you don’t think you’re great, why would anyone else? Always back up your brag with facts, though: what you’ve done, what you achieved, what you learned.

For tips on writing the perfect personal statement, click here.

What's New?

Choo-choo-choose to pay less

If you're planning to study a long way away from home, train fares bite into your budget like a bulldog on a burger, even if you've got a 16-25 railcard. We’ve recently been tipped off about TrainSplit, a cunning fare finder that uses (perfectly legal) ways to get even cheaper fares than your railcard alone. That's a lot more choo for your train. If you know of any other student money hacks, do drop us a line and we’ll share (with a credit, natch).

In the news

No tuition fees? Gut oder nicht gut?

With A-level results in and university decisions officially made, hundreds of thousands of students will be heading off over the next few weeks. The same applies all over the world, but in Germany, after the Government reversed a decision to charge students, they no longer pay any tuition fees. But a recent study has suggested that there is a hidden cost. 
For starters, only 27% of students go to university in Germany as opposed to almost half in the UK and, in spite of the tuition fees, UK students only spend around 20% more than German students. But as the article reminds us, “The biggest difference seems to be not the outcome but the political decision about who pays. In Germany it's the taxpayer, in England the individual student gets the bill.”

Medicine appli-can’ts?

Medicine applicants aren’t getting the help they need when applying through UCAS to their chosen course. An astonishing nine out of every ten of medicine applications were rejected in 2014. An article in The Guardian said that students from ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’ are particularly at risk of being overlooked. 


One student said, “My school tried, but knew very little. I wasted time on applications to universities that I didn’t even match the criteria for. So many of my school friends were excellent candidates didn’t even reach the interview stage. They were just as good as some of the people I am studying alongside now.” 


If you’re thinking of medicine, don’t be afraid to ask in school and also take a look at how to give your application the edge.  

Four score and many days off

As ever, the bold Americans tried it first, and the outcome only seems to be positive. It’s the four-day school week. We’ll give you a second to wrap your exploding head around the concept, because, yes, it does sound like the best idea EVER. 

A trial study found that there was an overall improvement in pupil’s academic performance with significant improvement in student’s maths scores (or “math” as they’d say). But before you start petitioning for your school to follow suit, the new four-day week means longer hours in school to meet the minimum time requirements.

Green with envy

If you’re keen on going to an eco-friendly university, Edge Hill could be the one for you. The Ormskirk-based university has just won the Green Flag award for the fourth year in a row for the impeccable upkeep of its ‘green spaces’. If the thought of rolling green scenery and a university that “minimises the environmental impact of its activities” is something that appeals to you, have a look at some of the greenest unis in the UK.

Last updated on: 30 September 2015

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