Christie gives advice: Applying to university.

7 Mar

My university! Doesn’t it look like Hogwarts?

Yet another of hopefully what will become regular features on this little blog.
As a university student, I have been through the entire ‘applying to uni’ process, and let me tell you, it was not easy for me! First, I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience and then I’ll give you the top 5 tips I’ve come up with for sixth formers, either who have already applied or are thinking about what to do at university.

Okay, so I’m currently a student at Royal Holloway, which is one of the colleges of the University of London. At the end of my degree, I’ll have the same qualification as places such as Queen Mary’s or UCL. I took 5 A-Levels to full course, which is relatively out of the ordinary, from what I can tell. Most colleges or sixth forms offer three or four A-Levels, with the option to drop one after AS. Seeing as I passed all of my AS levels, I carried on with all five. I will say now that that was probably a mistake, and I should have dropped one (cough cough Religion, Philosophy & Ethics). The A-Levels I took were English Literature, Theatre Studies, French, History and Religion, Philosophy & Ethics. I emerged from a reputable school sixth form with 5 full course A-Levels, but at a price. I got 2 B grades and 3 C grades. I had been predicted 2 A grades and 3 B grades, so I under-performed  but now that I look back on it, I really did work very hard in school, and I think I just took on too much.

I had applied to universities that expected those higher grades too. I applied to Sussex, Birmingham, Kent, Royal Holloway (UoL) and Warwick. The course I chose was French and Drama. This definitely limited the places where I could apply to, as it’s quite an eclectic course that not many universities offered at the time. Eventually, I chose Royal Holloway to be my firm choice, and Kent to be my insurance. Both offers were ABB (including French). I actually received BBCCC and a C in French. You may be thinking, ‘How on earth did you get into university then?’. I shall tell you.

I was saved by my extra-curriculars. 

I was not always the most academic student, especially towards the end of my time at school, but I was a bit of a busybody! Throughout my time at secondary school, I was part of the selective school choir, school council, charity team, prefect team, and I was made Head of House (a bit like deputy head girl in role, not in title). I also played some sports when I was younger, trained as a junior life-guard, had two jobs, two music qualifications and stage managed and acted in three school plays. I was definitely an over-achiever, and that was what set me apart from my fellow students. Even though they were incredibly intelligent and worked hard, they did not attend after-school events or help with charity functions. But that’s the thing, it’s impossible to maintain an incredibly packed academic, extra curricular and social life, so something has to suffer. 

And that brings me to today, where I am a first-year French and Drama student at Royal Holloway.

Going through the university application process can be tricky. There are so many thins you have to consider that it can be very overwhelming. Here are a list of tips that I hope will help you, whether you’re just starting to think about university, or about to go in September. 

1. Choose A-Levels wisely. 
If you love science, choose science. If you love art, choose art. Do not choose something because your friends are in the class or because it seems like a bit of a doss, because when it comes to choosing a degree (where you have to pay for your education), you’re not going to have your friends and you will have to pay for subjects that don’t really interest you. For example, most universities ask for History A-level if you want to do a History BA, so make sure that you have History if you know that’s what you want to do!

2. Go on as many visit days as you can.
You don’t get a feel for a university, especially if it’s a campus university, if you sit at home looking on the internet. You have to visit if you’re thinking about applying or if you have applied. I visited four universities, and I knew straight away when I stepped onto Royal Holloway grounds that it was the place for me. 

3. Before you apply, think about what kind of living environment you enjoy.
If you’re a very quiet person who doesn’t enjoy clubbing or late nights, then halls probably won’t be your cup of tea. If you love to socialise and hate long journeys, you probably need to live on campus. A university will offer places to live on and off campus that accommodate your best interests. Perhaps give private housing a look too. In addition to that, do you want to stay at home?

4. Think about whether you actually want to go to uni.
I had friends who didn’t apply to university and ended up regretting it, and friends who applied then decided it wasn’t for them. It’s not always possible to tell what you want to do for the next 3/4 years, but have a good long think about where you see yourself in the near future. If it’s not at university, save yourself the aggro and thousands of pounds worth of debt! 🙂

5. If you get to uni and change your mind, don’t be afraid to tell someone.
Whether you hate your course, your tutors, your flatmates or your university in general, you must talk to people about it. You can change course quite easily once at a university,or at least tailor your current one. If you dislike your flatmates, then contact campus housing (you’ll get a mass of paperwork and fliers on your first day that will probably end up in the bin barring a few post-its) and discuss moving or room-swapping. There’s almost always more than one person in that situation. And if you hate your university, then don’t get stuck there for the forseeable future. I had a friend who spent less than 24 hours at her university of choice, decided she wanted to be closer to home, dropped out, and was at a new university doing the same course within two weeks. UCAS really does want to find a place for you, no matter how much it may seem like they don’t.

Okay, so there you go. 5 hopefully helpful tips. I hope this helped or at least was interesting to read. If you have ANY questions at all about anything to do with university, leave a comment and I will be sure to reply asap! 🙂 I remember feeling completely lost this time last year, and I had so many questions, but no-one to talk to! 

Have a wonderful day!
Christie xoxo


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