March 23, 2015

Beginning Your University Journey

University Tips

As graduates ourselves, something we feel really strongly about is giving clear and honest advice to future students.  We know how tough it can be, choosing a university is one of the biggest decisions 18-21 year old students will face.  With so much pressure to find the perfect course and university it can all seem a little overwhelming.  With this in mind we have compiled a list of 'Do's' and 'Dont's' based on our experiences to help find the right university and course for you so you don't end up feeling rushed into the decision.

Do: Consider your skills. We all have different strengths and weaknesses so a good place to start is by looking at the subjects you excel in and ones that you find a little more challenging.  For us, our strengths lay in our artistic abilities but found subjects such as science quite difficult.  This naturally gravitated us towards a creative degree.

Don't: Apply for something you have no interest in.  You'll be in your course for around 3-4 years so it's important to choose a course that you find interesting and not just because it's considered respectable or influenced by money.  Your university experience should be enjoyable.

Do: Look at any additional costs.  Tuition fee's aren't where the costs end.  With our fashion course, we had no idea we'd have to spend a small fortune on fabrics, sewing tools, books, storage bags, sketchbooks.. the list goes on!  University books can be expensive alone so it's good to know how much you'll need to spend before applying.

Don't: Underestimate/Overestimate yourself.  While we were both offered a place at a university that's ranked high on league tables, it's not always the best fit.  We chose a university that would offer a non intimidating atmosphere for a comfortable learning experience.  On the other side of the spectrum, if you're a C grade student, it might not be the best fit applying to a university expecting straight A's.

Do: Visit as many universities as possible.  There's only so much information you can get from reading a university prospectus.  Universities will have open days where you can speak to members of staff and students so you can get a real feel of the atmosphere.

Don't: Limit yourself to the closest university.  While it can be tempting to choose a university close to home, broaden your horizons and look a little further.  You might be missing out on the perfect course otherwise.  Some courses also offer study abroad programmes should you want a little change of scenery.

Do: Pick former students brains.  One of the best way's to find out if a university course is for you is to ask former students about their experiences.  They'll be able to provide unbiased opinions having gone through the experience themselves.

Don't: Feel pressured by friends/family.  While they may have had a good or bad experience at that particular university, it doesn't mean that you will.  Choose the university that's right for your best interests.

Do: Find out what happens after you graduate.  Once all the hard work is done, you've graduated but what then?  Does your university help you find graduate jobs or are you on your own? Find out if your University offers any internship opportunities or what the employment rating once graduated is.

With all this in mind St Mary's University sent us over this little video, and this is exactly the kind of honest, relatable research we think is perfect.  The video is called 'Be Part of It' and it shows short interviews with former and current students, and who better to get advice from than young people slap bang in the middle of their degrees?  It can be hard to know what a university is really like before you start there so it really helps to gain this kind of insight into the daily life of a student at St Mary's University.

Whether you are applying for University this year or not, we think that following these steps can only aid you in your journey.  If you're still a few years away from graduating high school, it's never too early to have a look around.  Are any of you guys applying to university at the moment, or thinking of doing so in the future?  If so we would love to hear any of your thoughts or even any tips from former students on how to make the process a little less stressful.  Best of luck to everyone beginning their university journeys, it's definitely one we will never forget.

*This is a sponsored post.

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