You’ve made it to the UCAS Deadline, so what’s next for your University Preparation?
Some of us by this point have jumped in with both feet, everything planned out, prepped and ready to go - whilst others may have only dipped their toe in the water to see what it’s like - both of these are perfectly normal and in either case, you are not alone!
Whilst you wait for offers, there's so much you can do to plan and prepare, making the most of the time before you potentially start a new chapter.
Know your Area of Interest
Start looking in to the topics you’ll be studying if you choose your course at university. Each of the university courses will have modules you’ll be studying year by year and the topics areas and interests. By looking in to the specific topics not only gives you more of an insight in to what you’ll be learning at university, but choosing which is the right course you for you.
Top Tip = Look up some of the main authors in the area and introductory texts, have a look at any material or micro videos online that will give you a flavour of the topic. This will give you a head start and make those first few weeks easier.
Finetune those study skills
Time management and planning for deadlines is critical at university, sometimes you will feel you have nothing to do, and then all of a sudden the exam / coursework deadlines are coming thick and fast – you may have already felt this during AS / A Levels and indeed the infamous UCAS Deadline either it was October or January. By brushing up on your GANTT Charts, Weekly Tasks and everything in-between will you keep on top of your assignments, coursework and revision. These skills are crucial for university success, and practicing now will set you up for good habits.
Top Tip = Find out from your chosen university / universities, their assignment and exam calendar and plan accordingly. Some will have deadlines before or after the Christmas and Easter Holidays – by seeing what will work best for you will help you decide on your final choice.
Explore The Specialities
Your chosen course may offer specialities, research them and see which ones interest you most. Some degrees will give you an overview of the topics and let you specialise straight after the degree or with further education. Do not be blinded by the University course, some paths will take additional years of training to get to ‘where you want to be’ – by planning for this and being realistic with your timeframe will help to keep to your goals.
Top Tip = Find someone in the field you’d like to go in to a contact them. By asking how one could get to where they are / what education / avenues they took would help you to see the bigger picture. For some it may be straight out of University in to a Job / Grad Scheme, for others MSc and PhD / Post Graduate training / experience may be needed. Finding this out will help you get a clearer picture of your academic path.
Get to know your University
You may know exactly which university you want you go to; you may still have no clue. It is important to go visit and research the universities infrastructure and amenities. Check out their next Open Day, you can attend Open Days up to the month you head of to University. You still have approximately 6 more open Days before University starts, and 5 before you get your choice accepted (the latter one for clearing options).
Look at the accommodation, opportunities for work and amenities around the local area – will you have to 2 or 20 minutes to the local supermarket, is it a taxi ride away? Look up the entertainment, how far is the accommodation / campus away from the social areas and entertainment facilities. Some universities pride themselves on a in, hybrid, or out of city campus – way up your pros and cons for each.
Top Tip = Look at the Societies, universities have societies for everything – from Archery to Debating, Corn Hole to Harry Potter, university gives you the opportunity to share in your passions with like-minded people and create your forever lasting friendships
You may be looking to go to university close to home, you may move 100 miles away in to a complete new part of the country / world. It’s important to get independent with your living and education.
Living wise; Start getting those cookbooks, learn how to do the laundry, and your travel in and out of university. Research the Student House games to get in with your flatmates, the person to bring ‘What do you Meme’ and the communal sweets bowl.
Education wise; University is less about being ‘hand held’ through your assignments (we are still there to guide and support) but it’s about you taking the time, preparing and doing the work / extra reading, so plan ahead, start preparing when they give you the assignment – and go to your seminars – they will only ever help towards your assignment, module and fundamentally, your degree!
Top Tip = Prepare your socials, connect with future classmates by looking for online forums or social media groups of people in your course. This is a great way to meet future classmates, ask questions, and share excitement.
Remember, the best way to prepare for university is to do what works best for you. Ensure you have your plans, but don’t be too strict with yourself if you go awry.
If you do not get the university you were first hoping for – do not panic – so many university have clearing options to support you. If you haven’t chosen a university on UCAS and suddenly set your heart on it, you may have the opportunity to choose that university (if they have spaces available) once you get your results.
I hope this helps, good luck with your UCAS, your preparation and your plans for the next steps into University Life!