Monday, 18 February 2013

The Waiting Game.

Sorry it's been a while since I last posted, but I've been crazy busy with college and deadlines and work etc!

Anyway, now I've talked you through to steps to applying to university, and how to spend your time at freshers, I thought I'd continue my blog following my journey! I currently have my offers, and am just waiting to confirm the one I wish to go to, which is Manchester Metropolitan studying Public Relations with Digital Communications :) I'm looking forward to it so much, and have so much I want to achieve, I can't wait to get started! 

I'm kind of nervous about receiving my results, but I do need to be honest with myself! Without sounding big headed, I know that I'm doing well at college, and have achieved a Distinction* (equivalent to an A* at A level) for my first year. I'm soooo happy with that! I'm aiming to achieve D*D*D* when I finish college, and as long as I put 100% effort into my work, like I usually do (massive geek!), I'm sure I'll be able to do it :) 

So where are you guys planning to go to? Have any of you had all of your offers or have any of you confirmed yours? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks for reading!


Monday, 7 January 2013

So, it's come to the end.

We've talked right through from applying to going out in freshers week, and I hope I have been informative!
Writing this blog has really helped me too; it has helped me understand everything about university in more depth and has made me a lot more confident about the whole idea! If you have any questions please feel free to ask me. You can find me on Twitter @JourneyToUni and on my Facebook page, or leave a comment on this page :)

Thank you for following my blog.

Amy Rule.

So when does all the fun begin?

Having replied to offers, accepted the one you wish to attend, packed your bags and left for university, I bet you're pretty excited.

The main thing on everybody's lips when starting university is.... Freshers week! Don't just assume it's a whole week of drinking (which would be extremely bad for you!), it's a chance to meet new people. It is set to be the most fun week of your life, experiencing new things and creating new memories you can telling your friends for years to come. The purpose of freshers week is to make yourself familiar with fellow students and  the campus, to settle into your accommodation and to get used to university life as whole. Usually, various events will be organised to make this week even more memorable, for example, pub quizzes, fancy dress parties, meet and greets etc. However, freshers week isn't just a barrel of laughs, you will also have to register and welcome talks. Without this, you might find yourself not registered on courses or a bit lost when it comes to trying to find out where you're supposed to be and when! At the end of the (maybe slightly laborious) process, you are rewarded with the golden ticket to your student life - your student union card! This card can help you receive discounts in various stores, get you into many different nightclubs and also gains you access to the student union. The student union is a place where students from around the campus can socialise and hang out, and usually boasts a onsite shop and noticeboard with up to the minute events flyers! There will also usually be a freshers fair, which has many different stands advertising various things (societies etc, see below for some more info). This week can be extremely fun, but don't be fooled, the hard work starts soon!

One of the best ways to make friends similar to yourself is to join a society or club. After being to various open days, I have seen that there is such a huge variety of them that you can join! There are the more mainstream groups such as drama, football etc, and then the more alternative and unusual like parachuting or toy model making. You can honestly meet all sorts of different people through these societies, and can also give you the opportunity to add skills onto your CV!

The way you work in university will be a lot different than that you are used to, or so I am told. Self motivation is of utmost importance in university, as tutors won't badger you to hand work in, they will simply fail you. Also, work may sometimes be set without the intention of it being marked. That might sound stupid, but it is important to complete this work to maintain an understanding and to help you develop on the course. A lot of courses will have some tuition time where a group of you can get together and receive help, so make sure you make a note of anything you have been struggling with.

Preparing for university - accommodation checklist.

Moving out and going to university is an exciting time, and with so much going on in your mind at once it would be easy to get confused. From thinking about all the clothes you want to take, to all the necesities for your kitchen, here is a cleverly devised checklist of all the important items you don't want to forget!


  • Your passport, drivers license and national insurance number
  • TV License if not provided
  • A CV and any references you have gained
  • Your bank details
  • Your doctors and dentist details along with your NHS number
  • A diary or calender could also be useful to make sure you don't forget any important events!
  • Grab a map of the local area and a guide to what's going on

If you're sharing a flat with a few others, it would be a good idea to discus what kitchen items you could each bring. It wouldn't be very useful if all 5 of you brought a toastie maker yet no one brought any pans to cook any food. Maybe just bring the essential items with you on your first day and then discuss which appliances each could bring in the following few days. Also, maybe you could all put some money together and buy anything else needed between you. The majority of the time, appliances will already be provided in the flats but this will be something you need to find out prior to moving in.

  • Corkskrew and bottle opener
  • Mugs and glasses
  • Cutlery
  • Plates and bowls
  • Frying pans and saucepans
  • Tin opener
  • Scissors
  • Chopping board
  • Basic cupboard ingredients - coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper etc
  • Cooking utensils - wooden spoon, spatula, masher
  • Plastic boxes suitable for freezing - place any left over food (spag bol for example) in and freeze for another days meal!
  • Plastic bowl that is suitable for microwaving - perfect for heating soups and beans!
  • Sandwich bags
  • Tea towels
  • Tin foil and cling film
  • Oven gloves
  • Tray to carry food on if eating in bedroom
  • Washing up liquid, dishcloth and scrubbing brush (for when the washing up actually DOES get done)

  • Bath mat to step out on to after a shower
  • Bath and hand towels (maybe a flannel too)
  • A basket to keep all your shower things in (handy if not in an en suite bedroom!)
  • Toilet roll
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Shower accessories - soaps, bodywash, shampoo, conditioner
  • Hair gels, hairspray
  • Deodorant
  • Nail scissors/clippers
  • Hairbrush
  • Razors and shaving gel/foam
Electrical Items

  • Alarm clock
  • Mini fridge (for if you can't be bothered to walk to the kitchen!)
  • Calculator
  • Laptop and charger
  • Phone charger
  • Memory stick - essential for carrying important work!
  • Printer
  • Network cable
  • Bedside lamp
  • TV and DVD/VCR player
  • Camera - document your time at university so you can relive the memories later on
  • Headphones
  • Extension lead
  • Batteries
Studying Essentials

  • Desk lamp
  • Notice board/white board - to make a note of important events
  • Dictionary and thesaurus
  • A pad of lined paper
  • Plain A4 paper for printing
  • Folders to keep your work in
  • Stationary - Pens, pencils, rubbers, highlighters, tippex, ruler, stapler, hole punch
  • Sellotape
  • White Tac - this won't stain the walls like Blu Tac would
  • Post it notes

  • Laundry bag (Keep's your clothes off the floor and makes it easy to take it to the laundry room....if your parent's don't do your washing!)
  • Clothes horse to dry your clothes in your room
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Cleaning products for your flat and your clothes
  • Dusters
  • Hoover (if you really wanted)

  • Sheets
  • Duvet and duvet covers
  • Pillows and pillow cases
  • Matress cover
  • Hot water bottle
  • Sleeping bag (if your mates stay over)

  • Alcohol
  • Extra storage
  • Suitcase
  • Spare lightbulb
  • Torch
  • Any loose change
  • Fan
  • Clock
Don't forget all your clothing any anything you want to add to your room! (posters etc).

All about student accommodation (moving away from home, yay!)

If you're applying to a university that is a fair distance from your home and you would be unable to commute, you will need student accommodation. This is the renting of a flat where you will live while studying at university. Usually these flats will be in blocks filled with other students. Student accommodation is only available to students, and proof of this will be needed prior to booking, so don't worry, no random strangers will be able to move in! From what I have heard (and from working in a student accommodation company for the past three summers), living in student accommodation provides you with freedom, the ability to grow and for a lot of people, life long friends! 

There are two different kinds of student accommodation - there is that provided by the university, and private accommodation. If you live in accommodation provided by the university, you will most likely live on campus or very close by. You will also be living with other students who definitely go to your university, which helps when you are a first year! It is also sometimes cheaper than private accommodation. When it comes to private accommodation, you can choose who you want to live with. For example, if you and a friend were going to the same town but to different universities, you could request private accommodation and to live with each other. Also, the location is flexible meaning you could be closer to the town centre (i.e. all the clubs!)

Here are some tips when it comes to student accommodation:

  • Check out the location! If you have to commute to and from your flat to university, work out how much it would cost you. You could also see if there are any supermarkets around which will help when working out how much money you would need to budget on food.
  • If living in halls, your bills will most likely be covered in your rent.
  • Sometimes in halls, you will be provided with internet. Make sure to ask!
  • If you know someone else applying to the same accommodation, avoid the flatmates from hell situation and ask to be put with them. You could also provide preferences (non smoking, gender specific etc). 
  • You should always ask about insurance!
There are usually different room types when it comes to accommodation, that range in size and obviously the bigger the room, the more expensive it is. When booking student accommodation, you will most likely have to sign a contract that means you are committed to paying the rent for the year. Usually, the rent will be paid termly in time with your maintenance loan, but not always so be sure to check with the accommodation company. Once you have signed the contract, you are legally binded to the room to pay the rent, so be sure to read it thoroughly before signing. Plus, make sure you understand how much you will be expected to be on each payment date so you can budget your money! 

Here are some websites you could look at that provide private accommodation (the university website will provide details on their own accommodation):


Here is a useful website with some similar hints and tips too! Bright Knowledge - Student Accommodation

Check out this video for some information for a manager at MCR Students, a student accommodation company based in Manchester. Although Maryanne Bell will be talking about Manchester Student Village specifically, it can give you an idea about student accommodation as they are usually quite similar.

University - do you move away or stay at home?

For some people, moving away is a necessity. For example, if you're going to a university miles and miles away, it may be near impossible to commute from home. However, for some people it may be a possibility. Check out this list I've devised below to give you some benefits of each decision.

If you wish to live at home:

  • You won't have to take any loans out to pay rent, meaning you won't have to pay anything back in the future!
  • If you're lucky enough, you may not have to do all of your cooking, cleaning and washing yourself.
  • You won't have to move all of your things to and from university if you wanted to come for holidays.
  • You will still be near all of your family and friends.
  • There is the chance of keeping a job if you have one.
  • You will be starting university from an environment you feel confident in.

If you wanted to move away:

  • You will feel like part of university and campus more.
  • Living on your own gives you the opportunity to grow and come more responsible.
  • You will be able to make lifelong friends and meet different kinds of people.
  • Living away from home will teach you how to cope with adult life.
  • You will have your own space.
  • It can be exciting and you'll be close to all the parties and nightlife.

Have a look at a students and parent's opinion on going to university!

What preparations have you done for when you leave college?

Lizzie: I have looked at a couple of apprenticeships and volunteer work abroad. I’ve also looked at some work placements along with some courses at Huddersfield, Manchester Metropolitan, Salford and Westminster University.
Joe: Well I’ve got hold of a few uni’s for information and looked at a couple of applications. I found out that I need to do another year at college and complete a foundation degree before I can apply for the course I want to do at university.
Josh: I’ve started writing my personal statement after looking at a few universities and different student accommodation.

Is university the ultimate route you want to take, or is this just one of many options?

Lizzie: I would really like to go to university but it’s a lot of money so I need to be sure about the career I want to do in the future.
Joe: Definitely want to go to university because a degree is necessary in the industry I want to enter.
Josh: Just want to go to uni because I need a degree to get into the gaming industry.

Is there anything putting  you off going to university?

Lizzie:  I like the fact you can pay back your loans in small instalments, and the fact that there is no guarantee of a job doesn’t really bother me.
Joe: There’s nothing really putting me off because I really want to go to university!
Josh: The accommodation fee is a bit worrying, the fact that I may not have enough to cover it.

 Have you begun a UCAS application? If so, how are you finding it?
Lizzie: Yes I have and it’s quite difficult! The personal statement is the hardest part. Apart from that it’s alright, although it is a lengthy application.
Joe: I haven’t started a UCAS application; I’m planning on doing it next year after finishing my foundation degree at college.
Josh: It’s a long process and requires a lot of effort but I have started it and its necessary!
What would you recommend to people in their first of college who are thinking about higher education?

Lizzie: Have an idea of what you want to do early on and make sure you look at loads of different universities to see which would be most suitable for yourself.
Joe: Really look at every degree at every university to ensure you know exactly what you want to do or else it can get very confusing!
Josh: Do all your work in college so that you get good predicted grades which help you get offers from universities.
Do you think people who have a degree have an advantage over those who don’t?
Lizzie: Yeah, most workplaces look at degrees so I think having one would help.
Joe: Yes because people with degrees have 3 or 4 years more experience than someone who doesn’t go to uni. This means they have a better chance of getting an interview which gives them a better chance of getting a job.
Josh: In some cases yes, in others no. For example, if you wanted to be an engineer within the gaming industry, you would need the knowledge gained from a degree.
Where do you see yourself  in five years’ time?
Lizzie: Hopefully I’ll be in a full time job with a good wage after completing a degree at uni.
Joe: I want to be living in London trying to get into a full time job within the industry I want to be in.
Josh: Finishing uni and looking for a job in an independent gaming company or creating my own.

Here is a short video where a parent was interviewed about their opinions on their child going to university. You may not have thought about it but your parent's will have a strong opinion about you going to university, and it might help to ask them how they feel!