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
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
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?
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.
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
If you're in Year 13
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
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
For tips on writing the perfect personal statement, click here.
Choo-choo-choose to pay less
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).
No tuition fees? Gut oder nicht gut?
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.
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 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.
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
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