Work experience: cancelled. Taster days: cancelled. University open days, you guessed it... cancelled.
Sinking into the sofa, many have felt like the whole of higher education is getting cancelled. Six months into lockdown, however, you start to realise that the world is actually at the tip of your fingers.
We are the generation of technology. The generation of endless screening. Even though work experience for many is cancelled, when a global pandemic forces us indoors, we’ve never felt more at home.
Universities up and down the country are welcoming prospective students… virtually. Talks on courses, student life and accommodation are being offered. The only place you have to move to is a laptop!
Still, choosing a place to live and study for three to four years is hard to do when seen through a screen. Hopefully you’ve narrowed your choices down by visiting the virtual open days and talking to the live university chats. Think of all the train fares you’ve saved!
When it’s safe to do so, and if you haven’t already, try to visit a prospective campus or city. Even though the online talks made it seem that the university is a perfect paradise of nightlife, location and high teaching quality (I hate to break it to you) things are different in real life! Even if you don’t trust your ‘gut feeling’ much, I give you full permission to simply go and ‘check the vibes’. Seriously, if it doesn’t feel right on your first visit, would you really want to live there?
Who knew choosing your university in a global pandemic would be that easy? Remember, if you have any specific questions, you can always email universities. You may have chosen an ideal university, but it’s important to keep that focus to get there!
So, the minuscule problem of getting through the tunnel (there will be a light at the end, I promise) of UCAS. How do you fill 4,000 characters of a personal statement with things you planned to do but never carried through? Another barrier put down by Covid which we can pass with our best friend - the Internet.
Even though work experience and summer workshops are postponed, there are so many different ways to show your passion for your course. Online courses are fantastic to show passion for exploring your subject further. FutureLearn has many courses, which you can select based on your interest, formally known as ‘MOOCs’ Massive Online Open Course. Extra reading online or recommended by a school teacher will let you understand what you want to study in more depth. You can use modules mentioned in the prospectus as a starting point.
Of course, there are so many different aspects to the UCAS process. Teacher references, employment history, A-Level grades, extra qualifications, and, the personal statement, of course (follow the tips above, be proactive and it shouldn’t be too much stress)! Some apply to higher education with a particular career, or even a dream job they’d like to achieve, others… not so much. And either is fine! As long as you enjoy whatever you’re applying for, and love the place you’ll be (there’s a pattern here) you’ll most likely end up in a position of employment you’ll love!
Luckily, school and teachers will be able to support you through the UCAS process face to face, regardless of the stage your at. As schools reopen their gates after half a year, it may look a little different. From small changes like wearing masks around corridors to a potentially postponed exam season, students will have to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
The process of UCAS can be daunting, but there are so many resources to help you through it, and, however much comfort it provides you, I’ll be blogging about my own experience of it too. So, you’re really not alone (in fact, there are around 190,000 applicants in the UK)!
ANISHA MINOCHA is a sixth form student from Manchester, hoping to study English Literature and Spanish at university. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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