Take it from someone who is more relieved than anything to have finally graduated – the decision to go to university isn’t one to be taken lightly, especially in current circumstances. If you’ve decided to go for it, an even bigger decision awaits – what course to study? It still amazes me that 16-17 year olds are expected to know exactly what they want to do with their future. At that age and stage of life, it’s a big decision to make. Not to mention all that pressure to make the “right” decision from family, friends, neighbours – you name it.
Of course, lockdown poses its own challenges at the moment. For those of you who will be starting university this September, I don’t blame you if you might be feeling a little apprehensive. Things are much too uncertain for anyone’s liking, and your experience as a fresher may not exactly be what you had in mind. For those of you who are still making the big decision of whether to attend university or not, you may find many more variables thrown into the mix for you to consider. Sometimes, this might help your decision. Sometimes, it might not. Hopefully, these tips can give you a little helping hand.
Home or away?
Distance is a big factor when shortlisting universities for your applications. Attending a local university may mean that you continue living at home. There are big financial perks to this, but it may also mean that you don’t get the full university experience. Sometimes, putting a few extra miles between home and yourself means that you learn to thrive outside your comfort zone. You may be living alone for the first time, and the experience can teach you some valuable life skills – the kind you don’t want to be without as a graduate.
If you choose to attend a university on the other side of the country, you may have to fork out for expensive student accommodation. Hello big time student loans and budgeting to the penny. Still, it might be a chance to live in a new city and enjoy the change of scenery.
That being said, don’t forget to consider the most important thing – will your chosen university have the best course for you? Some universities have a reputation for a certain discipline, and some teach the course differently to others. Find out what your preferences are and have this in the forefront of your mind whilst choosing universities to apply to.
Take a year out?
Skipping a year is a valid option to consider at the moment. I know I didn’t want to. All I wanted to do was push through and get going immediately. But the current climate is worlds apart from what it was just a few years ago. Uni life as we know it might get a complete overhaul. Online learning without face-to-face lectures might just become the new normal, at least for a while. This might mean that you can do it all from home without having to move across the country or face a daily commute. It’s certainly worth careful consideration, and it might just allow you to resit a few exams if need be to get into the top institution on your list.
Just the sound of those words fills me with a sense of… “ugh”. Just ugh.
It’s so easy to just say yes to all the loans you qualify for and take the maximum amount. Before you tick the “yes” box, consider how you will pay it all back in the future, and whether you want to be in such heavy debt in the first place when your career hasn’t even started yet. If you are able to, it might be wise to borrow less on your maintenance loan to keep it all manageable going forwards. To help with this, you could get a part time job. Mine killed two birds with one stone – it was great for pocket money and helped me consolidate what I was learning at uni.
Take the time to do all the research you can on bursaries and financial aid you may be eligible for. I’m a big believer in “every little helps”. Get those applications rolling. Look into individual requirements and criteria thoroughly before you apply. That extra time and effort shows, and it will set you apart from the rest.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Did you attend university? Why/why not? What was your experience like? Put it in the comments! Until next time.
Disclaimer: All images in this post have been obtained from Pixabay under a Creative Commons License, and edited on canva.com by J, exclusively for thenellybean.