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What to think about this month - February 2015

In this month's newsletter we discuss UCAS, where to live and just a dash of romance...


For some, February is the month of love. For others, it's the month of gagging at all the loved-up couples. Either way, Push is your faithful partner you can love all year round.

If you're in year 12

If you're in year 13

In the news

If you're in Year 12

If you’re in Year 12, you may have already figured out what course you want to study, or what university you want to go to. (Don’t worry if you haven’t, check the Push website for more advice than you can shake a personal statement at.) It’s easy to forget about some of the basic logistical questions, like where you’re going to be living.

There are three basic housing options at universities:

Living in – Living in refers to housing provided by the university. This usually comes in the form of a room in a shared house or purpose built block of flats. For most students, this will be their choice in their first year of study. While people’s experiences of student accommodation varies hugely, for the most part it involves sharing a kitchen and possibly a bathroom with a number of other people, while paying one lump sum each term to the uni to cover rent, bills etc. Be warned: given that the bill hits your bank account all at once, this lump sum can be pretty lumpy indeed. So don’t be shocked.

Living out – Some students may prefer to live out. This means renting a property just like any other ‘non-student’ would. This could be a shared house with a group of friends or a flat on your own. It's worth checking Push's uni profiles and the uni's housing office for advice on living out in the local area, especially if it’s your first time getting your own place.

Private halls – These are often similar to living in: lots of students in single rooms, sharing kitchens and bathrooms, noise, parties and much the same fun as unis' own halls. The main difference is who you pay your rent to.

A word to the wise: Don’t take anyone’s word for it on the quality of accommodation. Just as the types vary, so does the standard. Go see the room before you make your choice, whether it's run by a uni, company or a private landlord. To find out more about accommodation, click here.

If you're in Year 13

This month you may well be getting offers from universities. It can be exciting: a whole carousel of lost sleep, panic sweats, and frantically hitting refresh on the UCAS website for hours on end. But it doesn’t need to be stressful.

If you haven’t heard back yet, calm. Unis should usually let you know by March 31st, though they may take a little bit longer in some cases. Even when you've heard from them all, you don’t have to tell UCAS what you want to do until May 8th, so don’t rush. Take your time to check you're happy with your choices. If you haven't already, go and visit the unis. But in the end, like all deadlines, it’s best not to leave it till the last minute to decide. So, as soon as you're happy that you know what to do, let UCAS know.

An Extra option. If you don’t get any offers from universities or you have second thoughts about the subjects or unis you’ve applied for, you don’t necessarily have to wait another year to go again. UCAS Extra lets you apply to courses that still have spaces left. The choice is limited, so only pick a course if it's something you really want to do. It might make more sense to re-sit some exams and try again next year, rather than study a course you don’t want.

Making the call. Once all your offers are in, UCAS will send you a summary and ask you to accept two offers (one firm and one insurance) and reject the rest. Don’t worry, you won't hurt their feelings. A firm acceptance should be for your favourite uni, the place you’ll be happy to call home if your grades meet their offer on results day. Your insurance choice should be a course and university that you’d still be happy with. If not, what's the point? The important thing is that the insurance choice must have lower grade requirements than the firm choice, because it only comes into play if you don't make the higher grades.

Are grades everything? Just because a degree has high grade requirements, that doesn’t mean it is the perfect course for you. If there is a course that you want, at a uni that you’ll love, then put it as your firm option. Just remember, there is no point having a course with higher requirements as your insurance choice, it should be a back-up in case you don’t get what you need for your first choice. To help sort through universities based on entry requirements, have a play with our uni chooser.

Compare unis around the world. Your way.

International league tables tell you very little about what different unis would be like for students to study there. They usually just look at how good their research is and for first-time students that's very much a side issue. So, for the past couple of years, Push has been working with a number of partners from all over the globe on a major international project called U-Multirank that allows you to compare the world's unis according to what matters to you. Because everyone else's idea of best may not be yours.

You can visit the website here and – as of this month – you can stay up to speed with a whole world of unis by clicking 'Stay in touch' to get the emails that put the "new" into "newsletter".

Fancy a taster?

If you're after an insight into real university life, take a look at the Sutton Trust Summer School. The scheme offers students a taste of life at a leading university - warts and all. Yes, that's right, you'll get a realistic experience of what life is like as a first year uni student, and that means study life and social life. Sign up now before you miss the chance, applications close at 12 on Monday 9th March.

In the news

Getting a degree, looking slightly more fees-ible

How have £9,000 tuition fees affected the number of university applicants since they were introduced in 2012? Unsurprisingly, at first, the number of UCAS applicants fell by 40,000 students for the first time since the 90s. However, with the passing of UCAS's first deadline for this year (on January 15th – as I'm sure you knew), they have now published this year's applicant numbers and they're higher than ever. A record-breaking 700,000 students have applied to degree courses for 2015/16. With competition higher than ever, it's more important than ever to stay on top of your application with Push.

Oh, isn't that lecturer a dish

Penn State and California University are the first (we hope of many) to implement a new programme in which they monitor how often a student spends looking at their smartphone during lessons. For every 20 minutes that you keep your peepers off Facebook, Instagram or whatever, you earn one point. Big whoop? Start to collect these points and they can be spent on discounts in local eateries. What a delectable sounding deal.

A regionably big decision

A recent study has revealed that nearly half of students in the UK will both study and then go on to gain employment in their home region. The second largest group will move away for study, but return home for their first job. These two groups are most concentrated in the East, South East and West Midland regions. London is the region with the largest number of ‘regional incomers’ – that means people who study away from home and then move to a different region for work. All these regions, all these degrees and jobs, it’s enough to make you want to crawl into a hole in the ground. Which group will you fall in to?

Last updated on: 19 February 2015

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