So you are thinking about going to University? It is a very exciting decision to make and is one that can change your life in many ways. Studying at University is a very individual experience and there will be lots of things that make your time unique. However below we have pulled together some of the amazing things that many people will experience as part of their journey.
Meeting new people is something that will happen throughout your life but this will be on a much larger scale at university. You will meet coursemates who are likely to have similar academic interests to you if you are in the same classes. If you join new societies or sports clubs this will give you a new community of people who also share an enthusiasm for your hobbies! On top of this, if you move into halls of residence, you will have new flatmates and neighbours who can soon become a new university family. Soon enough you will find it weird to think of a time when you did not have these great people in your life.
Making new friends doesn’t mean that you won’t still talk to your friends from school/college, especially now that we have so many ways to keep in touch thanks to technology.
- New city (if you decide to move away)
Now this one might depend on what course you want to study and whether you want to study close to home or further afield. However, if you do decide to move to a new place to study at University this can be incredibly exciting! It is a chance to explore a new place, find a new favourite coffee shop, become a local. There might be similarities to home or completely different! If you are thinking of moving away to study, Open Days can be really important in helping you get a feel not just for the campus but the wider town/city. It is really important that you do your research as you will be living there for 3 or 4 years or even longer (take this from the author who moved for study and is still in the same city 7 years later!) Take a look at the links below for more information about Virtual Tours and Open Days.
- Meeting people from new cultures
We are very lucky that most universities in the UK attract lots of people from all over the world who want to study here. Studying at University can be a fantastic opportunity to meet new people from lots of different countries and learn about different cultures and broaden your horizons.
- Societies and clubs
Are you already a member of a sports club or a society? Chances are you will be able to find a way to continue that at University. Lots of universities support their students to undertake extracurricular activities whether that is a competitive sport or just for fun, music, drama or something else completely. You might even be able to create a new club with other people on campus who are enthusiastic about the same things as you! Don’t believe us have a look at this list for a start.
- Try something new
Whether this is picking a degree subject you didn’t study at school or joining a new club or society, University is a great place to try something new. Many clubs and societies will offer taster sessions to encourage new students to join. Maybe you’ll discover you can cook a new signature dish or have a secret talent you had not previously unlocked.
- Learn a language
Even if you are not studying a course that involves languages, many universities will have provisions for students to develop foreign language skills. It may be a cafe discussion group to practice your conversation skills, a buddy system or even classes that can give you recognised qualifications. It is definitely worth having a look at what each university offers if this is something you are interested in.
- Studying a subject you enjoy in more detail
This is a really great thing about going to University. Instead of studying lots of different subjects at school, university gives you the opportunity to study an area of interest in much more detail. You might get to look at lots of different facets within a broader subject title or understand how lots of different subjects and skills link together. It might be that you choose a degree course with a specific career in mind and studying at university can help you identify your strengths and what you might want to further specialise in. Doing a degree at university allows you to explore and ask more critical questions about what you are studying.
- Study abroad opportunities
As well as exploring your chosen subject, there may be opportunities to do part of your studies at another university. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, the study of people and places. This is not a closed list and it's worth having a look at prospectuses/websites or speaking to the study abroad office at a university to see what opportunities you can take part in.
- Careers support
Unsure of what you want to do after you finish your studies? Not thinking that far ahead yet? Universities offer career advice and guidance to their students. Whether it is advice about doing work experience or internship placements during your degree or putting students in touch with businesses who recruit graduates - there are connections to help students figure out their next steps. They will also often help with guidance on writing a CV or other common application stages.
Whether you move away from home or not, studying at university is likely to give you more independence. This can be in many forms whether it is academic in what you choose to study and focus on or more generally in living away from home. It is an opportunity to grow not just as a student but also as a person.
- Life skills
A key part of newfound independence for students going to university after school is learning new key ‘adulting’ life skills. Whether it is household chores, managing bills or expanding your cooking repertoire, university is a time where many people will have to take on more responsibility.
With so many exciting opportunities on offer at university, it is important to know your limits. Are you really going to be able to keep up all the things you signed up for in welcome week as well as your uni work, socialising and other responsibilities? The self-discipline in saying no to some things is an important life skill which will serve you well at university and beyond.
- Time management
Now, this is probably a skill you are already developing between schoolwork, extra-curricular and other responsibilities. At University it is likely that your day will be less structured and timetabled than it is at school so you will have to improve this skill even further. Especially with all the exciting opportunities going on, it’ll be vital that you manage your time well to keep on top of your work and enjoy yourself to the fullest!
- Weird traditions and superstitions
Lots of universities will have these! Whether it’s an old rivalry with another university at sport, superstitions to give you good luck in exams or bucket lists of experiences to have on-campus there are a huge variety of traditions at universities across the country. It can all make for a great photo or story in the years to come.
- Learning from experts
Often the academics who will be giving the lectures and supporting you in your studies at university will be experts in their field. This can be an amazing experience to learn from people who have dedicated their career to answering the questions you are curious about!
UniDays, NUS totum, on-campus discounts - the list goes on. There are many big-name brands who offer exclusive student discounts. It is certainly a nice perk to take advantage of!
- Long holidays
Unlike schools, universities often operate on 24 weeks of teaching per academic year (this may be subject to change due to the course you are on). This means that you can have very long holidays where you can do other things. This may be having a seasonal job, an internship or travelling to see all of your new friends!
- Doing your own research
As part of many courses, you will be able to undertake your own research. If your course has a dissertation or coursework where you pose your own question you will be able to delve deep into an area of interest. There is huge satisfaction in being able to become an expert in a particular specific area of your course.
- Budgeting skills
Whether you take out a maintenance loan or have a part-time job to help with the living costs while you are studying - it will be essential that you develop budgeting skills. Making sure you have enough money to cover food, rent, utilities, any course materials as well as for socialising is an excellent skill to develop which will be useful throughout your life.
- Wider employment opportunities
On top of what you will learn through your course of studies, many of your experiences at university will be really useful when it comes to looking for a job. Did you take on a role of responsibility in a club or society? Did you become a class representative for your coursemates? There will be things you do at university for fun or interest not connected to your studies which will still be relevant to the world of work. You may even find opportunities to make some money on campus in roles such as student ambassadors where you can share your knowledge of your university with visitors and encourage the next generation of students!
Catherine Canning- Study Higher Liaison Manager