"The standard of the delivery (online) was excellent...pass on my regards and thanks to @AronTennant @mojtaylor. It was definitely useful and I think it will have hit on a number of different levels from being informative of what opportunities they have around them to a more personal level of who they are and can be. It was a pleasure to be part of." - Mike, Bedlington School
Are you thinking of doing a degree? Well the summer is a great time begin researching courses and universities.
Push has been flexing our broadband muscles (it's either that or real running) with a host of interactive online sessions for students, over summer term - to 1,000s of young people across the UK. If you missed out, then chill (we mean it, it's baking out there). We've selected some of the most interesting (and useful) questions we've been asked by year 11-13s, on applying for a degree...
What should you do if applying for a sports scholarship ?
Best place to start for current UK scholarships (it is updated all the time) is www.thescholarshiphub.org.uk. I would also ensure you keep your options open, as scholarships in music, sport or academic achievement (those are the main three on offer out there) are extremely competitive. If it is in sport, keep your grades going and get the best marks you can in your BTech or A levels, as they will look at those - as they'll be focused on the wider things good grades tell them: do you have good soft skill development (a love of learning, team work, resilience, creativity, self-reliance, critical thinking, etc). And finally...keep top of your game in your chosen sport! Also, ensure you are recording as many of your performances as possible, so you can upload or send them edited highlights of you in action...like a visual UCAS form
What happens if you get rejected from all the Uni's you apply too?
The trick is to be sensible about choosing 5 courses that you are likely to meet the entry requirements for - not just academically but also evidencing appropriate previous experience through school studies or activities outside school and demonstrating an enthusiasm for the course through the personal statement. If you choose well - please ask for help if you want some help with your choices - you should receive a number of offers. It's not uncommon for students to get offers from all 5. However, if you were in a position of receiving no offers there's a second chance from the February after application to use a system called UCAS Extra - this would allow you to make applications to additional courses (only if the university still has places available on the course). We have had a few students use this system successfully in the past. We will support you with that if necessary.
Can I apply to the same course but at a different university?
Absolutely! You can apply to 5 courses with the same title at different universities, 5 courses with slightly different titles (5 choices that are very different courses would make writing a personal statement very difficult!) at 5 different universities and/or more than one course at the same university. You can also send specialist personal statements to a specific university, if your course is really different from the others.
So should you apply to courses that are completely different and require different skills?
It would be difficult to write a strong personal statement that would support applying for courses that are very different.
Would you recommend taking a gap year ?
Definitely a FAQ! Yes, if you know why you want a GAP year and you have made plans to ensure it provides you with benefits. Whether that be to earn some more money towards the cost of university and at the same time develop some important skills (although be aware that the part time job you had during 6th form isn't always as great as a full time option!) or to volunteer to gain new experiences - as long as there are positive reasons why you are doing it then a GAP year can be a good opportunity for personal growth. If you are having a GAP year to avoid putting the effort into researching your options and making applications over the next 6 months then I wouldn't recommend it. Remember you are likely to see lots of social media posts showing your friends having a good time at university or getting on in their career - make sure you won't be regretting not being proactive now!
Here's a useful little Push guide on gap years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQVxaVfYxIU&t=28s
Moj (Push Presenter), you did drama what do you think the best course to go in is?
I went to Queen Mary University (Mile End, London) to do Spanish and Drama. Remember that university drama courses can be very practical (like a degree at drama school) or they can be more lecture and reading/research-based, or focus on wider 'performance' elements such as experimental, political or performance art. I probably didn't do enough research into the drama course there, and although I grew to love it by my final year (when it became the most practical) it is worth noting that my true love of performance came from my fringe theatre experiences of the Edinburgh Festival, which our QM Theatre Company raised money for (via ticketed performances) through each year (the space was free to use, as we're paying for it through our tuition fees), to then write and put on plays at the Edinburgh Festival each summer.
So remember, unis can offer you a 'second' degree in drama: the drama/theatre societies. There are even new writing / comedy societies (and if they don't exist: create them when you get there). Remember: no 2 drama courses across the country will ever be the same. I chose London because of the social capital and networking (I joined the National Youth Theatre at 18 in my first year, who's HQ is in London), so think about the city you go to - to get involved in wider drama and building contacts/agents. Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool are all great hubs for creative film and theatre...as is Edinburgh. I went to do an MA after my first degree, at Drama Centre London, which is now part of Central St Martins near Kings Cross. A drama degree will be much more intense training, and very practical, with a showcase for agents. Ask yourself: do you want intense drama training to be industry-ready for acting? Or, do you want a more flexible, more transferable style of performance training, for a wider world of employment?
How does a person keep 'control' of everything when going to uni and applying for it when everything feels too much?
There's lots of support both online and through school. If you engage with that support and take things step by step - this is a 5/6 month process if you get started now - it will help avoid becoming overwhelmed. Putting together a timeline of small steps to be prepared for submitting the final application might help.
Take the time to slow down and breathe each day. At Push, our performers use the 5-5-5 technique before Push Talk performances, or wider performances and auditions: sit up straight, roll your shoulders back and breathe in for 5 seconds through your nose, hold for 5, and breathe out for 5. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath and where it is flowing to in your body. If you can smile at the same time, and place your hands on your hips, your will direct positive body language signals into your brain, which tell the brain you are confident, even if you aren’t feeling it at first. Repeat the 5-5-5 for 2-3 minutes. Also, there’s some brilliant mental health charities out there, focused on supporting the wellbeing of students. Here's the link to Studentminds.org, who have just received £3m funding from the Office for Students to support mental health in students. Another great service, for when you’re a student in higher education, is Together
Can I apply to more than one Russell group university?
Yes you can. You can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge and you can only apply for 4 Medicine/Dentistry/vet courses, the 5th choice has to be different. If choosing 5 Russell Group universities make sure they include a range of entry requirements and don't choose RG just because you think they are better - choose them because you have done your research and know they are the best course choices for you.
Would you recommend studying abroad?
This can be a great option - it would certainly give you a more global perspective. However, practicalities need to come into play. Financing your studies, language, travel costs and degree recognition need to be researched. UK student finance isn't available for studies in other countries and although some countries have low university fees you will also need to cover the cost of accommodation etc. Language - although many countries teach in English, without learning at least the basics of the country's language you are likely to struggle socially or even with shopping and asking for directions. You need to be committed to making the effort to learn before you go. Travel costs - flights to the USA for instance are expensive and lengthy and will impact how often you are able to come home. Consider if missing out on family birthdays, celebrations, Mothers day etc will matter to you. Also remember that if you are poorly or homesick it isn't easy to go home for the weekend and get some family TLC.
Degree recognition is also important - for instance Medicine degrees from some countries aren't recognised by the UK GMC so may stop you being a doctor in the UK and learning about US Law isn't necessarily going to help you get a training contract with a UK Law firm. Best advice - do your research and make sure studying abroad will help and not hinder you. This advice is also given without factoring in COVID-19!!
Here's a great little Push guide to studying abroad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEI9MSv8vEc&t=46s
Do you have any tips for uni interviews? How do you approach any interview?
Remember the three rules of marketing: know your MARKET (the employer/uni), know what your MARKET WANTS (check their website and social media channels to get a feel for their ethos, values, history, growth, range of jobs/opportunities, where they are heading in the future), and thirdly know your PRODUCT (the elements of your life cocktail, what you want from life and why). Like any successful product, you do as much research (and experience: volunteering, part-time jobs) on the first 2 elements (the market research) which then shapes the product you present to them (you). Follow these 3 rules, breathe, and you’ll be fine.
Also, check out 3 great little videos from our presenter Stephen who - as an actor - has had to do 100s of 'interviews' (we call them auditions) throughout his life. And you learn just as much from the ones you don't succeed at, to adapt for the next one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wETEIY1t_E&list=PLjMLpmetyGJsFS1dHNTrnUcKcYZ9mH8Cb
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