Most people have some assumptions when it comes to uni, whether they have friends or family who have been before or not. And a lot of those will inevitably revolve around drinking.
Bargain basement uni bars, student clubbing nights with shots for £1, boozy society initiations, house/halls parties galore. It might seem like that’s all there is to the whole degree-earning business.
Turns out, a whopping 79% of students are under the impression that ‘getting drunk is part of university culture’. Seems pretty inescapable.
And although that’s not really true, and it’s perfectly doable to get through your uni years teetotal if that’s what floats your boat, the tide really does seem to be changing on the booze culture.
If you’re thinking of going to uni in September 2020 and you haven’t thought about which unis you're going to apply to yet, you’d better level up and get a move on.
You’ve got until mid-January to complete your application for most courses, but Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary courses have deadlines that are less than a month away (October 15th).
Even if you’re not planning on applying for those courses, all unis have already started accepting applications. Leaving it until the January deadline is like joining a long queue for a small cake.
We know that making real-life decisions and the whole UCAS commotion is basically a year away, but before you know it these choices will be getting all up in your face and demanding attention.
Then there's all the exams, revision, coursework, birthdays/bar mitzvahs/weddings and the highly repostable memes... so it's never too soon to get focused.
Besides, what's sixth form all about anyway? If you can work out where it's heading, it gives the next two years more purpose, more focus — maybe even more fun and success.
What we're saying is that, however early it seems, now's a great time to be thinking about two of the big questions; what do you want to do and where do you want to do it?
Spending a semester abroad to study is an incredible opportunity that can change your life. It’s important to be aware of certain mistakes people make so that you can avoid them and make sure that your time abroad is as rewarding and exciting as it can be.
You’ve done it. You made it through two years of intensive studies, coursework, endless revision, and one hell of an exam period. Go you!
This week, it’s finally time to reap the rewards.
If everything goes to plan, you’ll wind up with the grades you were hoping for and everything will be hunky dory. Party time. On with the plan, whether that be heading to uni, taking an apprenticeship, heading out on a gap year or going into work.
So the weather might not still be living up to the full promise of Summer, but the freedom must still be tasting sweet.
We’re not suggesting you bog yourself down worrying about the waning August days and the darkening evenings, but it’s a good idea to start getting serious about what year 13 holds for you.
It might still seem far off, but if you’re planning on going to uni in 2020, things are going to start moving at light speed. We’re talking open days and summer schools, personal statements, UCAS applications, student finance, interviews, offers, accommodation…
So, you want to go to uni next year? Great, exams are out of the way and there’s nothing more you can do on that front.
And sure, you should be out enjoying your last summer of pure, unadulterated freedom. But now you’ve got a prime opportunity to give yourself a head-start by prepping for the year ahead.
Maybe think about thinking about creating a budget. It doesn’t matter if you have no idea what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you’d rather have your teeth pulled than check your bank statement. The important thing is to know where you stand so that you can plan ahead.
And that means no nasty surprises, you savvy, forward-thinker, you.
Wherever you are, school’s pretty much out for Summer now. You might have another week or so, but no one really does anything with that time anyway. You’re on the home stretch.
So, how are you going to max out your time off?
First thing’s first: relax. Yeah, you heard us. You won’t get many more opportunities in life to bliss out quite like this. Sure, there are some big decisions looming, and maybe some important exams in the not so distant future, but that’s tomorrow’s problem. Today’s for chilling.
Tomorrow though… it might be a good time to start looking for some part-time work to keep yourself busy.
You’ve got the next six weeks of freedom ahead of you – use it wisely! Whether you’re thinking of going away to uni, taking an apprenticeship or just getting your own place sometime soon, learning to cook is an incredible life skill.
Trust us, the instant noodles get old real quick. (And we’re not talking expiry dates. Monosodium Glutamate will outlast us all.)
So now that you’ve got the time, why not learn something new? This summer is a great opportunity to help out in the kitchen, learn some recipes and techniques, and test drive a few dishes.
The sun’s (sort of) shining, but September is going to roll around quicker than you think. So if you’re moving away from home, start to consider who you might want to live with in the next academic year.
Going to uni for the first time?
If you’re moving into halls as a fresher, no need to worry about picking a roommate. That’s all done for you.
Granted, they may not be your dream roomie – most unis try to at least do some sort of compatibility matching when they lump people in together, but it’s rudimentary at best and no one expects everyone in a flat or hall to be besties.
I was always passionate about scuba diving and even considered joining the Royal Navy (my dad and granddad used to do a lot of UK scallop diving in Dorset), but this idea was talked down quickly in my school not by words, but through a lack of them: if I mentioned them, no one really knew how to respond to it so just politely smiled and nodded. It was the same when I had the idea of applying to drama school. I ended up choosing from a choice that wasn't mine: filling out my UCAS form and narrowing the choices down to Nottingham University and Queen Mary University of London. I at least chose London because of the wider pull of the city.
More on that in part 3. Coming up next month..
90% of apprentices in England stayed on in employment after completing their qualification; 71% with the same employer (so says the Government). That's great news, but if you're considering degree-level apprenticeships at a college or a university (yes really), you'll need to know the realities of them. In short, they are just like level 3 (advanced) apprenticeships: quality of skills on offer, healthy balance between course/work, wage paid and no guarantee of a full-time job at the end of the course.
There's 3 other factors that are huge, which the company funding the apprenticeship will rarely mention, particularly for apprenticeships at degree level: the brutal level of competition, the ease of access from you geographically, and most importantly of all: your genuine level of passion for what they offer (a mix of your curiosity, attitude, what you want from life, and your motivation).
If you're heading to uni, in just about three months’ time you'll be packing up your life to continue it somewhere else for the next three plus years. The weeks between getting your results and starting term scoot by and unis start allocating their housing the moment the grades are out.
There are four basic housing choices for students – living at home, living in, living out or private halls.
With this year's coursework and exams pretty much behind you, you'll be pleased to know that uni isn't all about books, lectures and exams.
We all know students get up to other stuff, right? And this other stuff is important when it comes to getting the most out of the whole university experience.
Different people have different ideas of fun, though - so when you're picking a uni take a look at what the local area offers.
The first thing I was told in my sixth form wasn't "do you want to go to university?" it was "ok everyone, here's the date when we'll be prepping your UCAS forms." At the time, this all felt completely normal, because you don't question what you don't know. And for most of the less-brave of us, from figures of authority. No one on the Taylor side of my family had ever undertaken an education course past the age of 18, which didn't help when being told "here's the university application form. Let's fill it out".
Sometimes it might feel (rightly so, often) that our favourite tech is holding us back when it comes to coursework productivity or exam periods.
Go on, try to tell us you’ve never thought “I could work on Algebra, or I could check Insta stories…” or “I should really do this Physics past paper as exam prep, but after just one more episode of Game of Thrones…”
Never heard of the Access to HE Diploma? It’s a Level 4 HND qualification specifically designed to help students who don’t have traditional qualifications like A Levels or Scottish Highers to get into university or other higher education.
Yep, another one. We know, it’s rubbish, but…
Deadline alert. If you’re planning to go to uni this Autumn, aren’t a secret millionaire, and you want to be able to pay your fee/have money to live on:
Remember to apply for your student loan by the end of May. This is the cut off for guaranteed loans by the time your course starts in the Autumn, so jump on it.
You don’t need a confirmed place at university or college to apply, just use your preferred choice and update it online if it changes.
If you miss the deadline you might find yourself starting uni with only the change from down the back of the sofa so here's your reminder now.
Are you heading down the uni highway?
This month you can officially start applying to uni for 2020 entry. UCAS opens its website for people to register on 21st May.
Don’t worry, the deadline is still a while away, but the dogs are now off the leash.
Hopefully, if uni’s for you, then your ideas on what you might want to study have been gradually solidifying. If you’re not quite there yet, have a look at our Which Course? section for some help on working out what’s right for you.
If you’ve heard from all your unis, have made your decision and told them about it, then you’re done with application process for now.
Congrats. Breathe a tiny sigh of relief.
But don't take your foot off the pedal just yet. Now you need to get your grades or meet any other ‘ifs’ and ‘buts' your chosen unis may have asked for. You may not be in Year 12, but take a look at the revision tips above.
Choosing your uni is one thing, but getting in is a whole other ballgame. And until universities develop a Harry-Potter-style Sorting Hat, they’re stuck with a combo of personal statements and grades to tell them who deserves a place at the Gryffindor table.
So this summer, whether it’s A Levels, Highers or mocks, you’re likely to have exams. And what do exams mean? Sigh. Revision.
This year though, don’t just work hard — work smart. Figure out what’s best for you personally: that depends on what style of learner you are. Are you a seer, a hearer or a doer?
If you’re in year 12 or 13 right now, chances are you’ve got a lot of exciting things heading your way. Uni, work, apprenticeship, college, travelling, your opportunities open to you once you’ve finished your A-Levels or Highers are pretty endless.
With all that great stuff ahead of you, now’s the perfect time to put a little investment into your future.
We don’t mean you need to clue yourself up on the stock market, or spend all your loose change on the latest cryptocurrency. Unless that’s your thing. Nope, we mean you should think about learning to drive.
Thought you were done with open days by this point? Think again.
By now, you've probably heard from most – if not all – the unis you applied to. If not, don’t worry. They're supposed to let you know by 31 March, but if you just can’t wait until then, it won't hurt to give them a call.
Now, while we’re sure that you made an effort to see all 5 of your choices before applying, we also understand that sometimes life gets in the way and you might not have had time for them all (err... or any of them).
So, you're settled into the swing of sixth form. In the future is Christmas and your next proper break. Sadly, that’s not all it holds: the future’s creeping up on you like a scary clown. The difference is your future's not a goofy fourteen-year-old in a mask.
The deadline for applications to Oxbridge, medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses is today, so get a move on if you still want to apply. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a gap year and apply next year — which might not be so bad anyhow. To double check other upcoming deadlines or application requirements go to the UCAS website.
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