If you are just starting your UCAS applications, you may feel overwhelmed by the process and steps involved. I’m here to reassure you that if you break it down into manageable sections, and take the time to consider what you want to get out of the next three years, it can be a really productive and rewarding process. The tips below will give you an idea of what to consider before applying and hopefully they can help you feel more prepared.
Select your course
Firstly, it’s important to think carefully about the course you want to study. Is the subject you have selected, the right one for you? When completing my UCAS application, I decided to apply to study a subject that I enjoyed at A-Level. Even though I liked this topic, after starting university I soon realised that I didn’t enjoy all aspects of the subject and ended up regretting my decision. Unhappy with my choice, I decided to take a year out to carefully consider what I was passionate about and research other courses in detail. I found that Journalism was the degree for me, and the rest is history.
From my experience, I recommend that you make sure you fully understand what the course consists of. To do this, it’s a good idea to look at the specific modules to make sure that you understand what the subject is about at degree level. You can find this information on the university websites. When reading the modules, ask yourself, does this interest me? Do I want to know more? You will be spending a considerable amount of time studying these topics so it is vital that they are something you will enjoy and be engaged with.
Beyond the classroom
Your university experience will be a lot more than just lectures and seminars, so it’s worth looking at the facilities and extra-curricular activities the universities provide too. Leeds Beckett is known for its sporting achievements and high-quality facilities, so if you are part of a team and looking to continue, or wanting to try something new, then Beckett is a great place to do that. We have a new state-of-the-art sports centre that includes world class indoor and outside athletics facilities, high performance strength and conditioning suites and cool hangout spots to catch up with friends, so there’s plenty for you to enjoy.
The location of the university was also an important factor to me. I wanted to be somewhere that was similar to my hometown of Newcastle, but far enough away to feel like I was truly independent. I’d also visited Leeds several times growing up and knew how good the food scene was, so it was a top contender from the get-go.
When researching the university, think about whether it is somewhere you could imagine yourself for the next three years? Living and studying in a city you feel comfortable in is important. For example, if you feel better in a quiet, low key setting, you could be better suited to a small city. If you are someone who enjoys the vibrant city life, then applying to a university like Leeds Beckett with a thriving student scene would suit you. Beckett has the best of both worlds with the hustle and bustle of the city and the beautiful countryside in the suburb of Headingley just outside the centre.
It is a good idea to make a list of things that are important to you both academically and socially and assess whether the university has what you are looking for. Getting in touch with universities early on, either through Open Days, Chat to a Student or through simply calling and asking questions, is definitely a wise move to help you make an informed decision.
Consider your finances
Although finances of day-to-day living might not be on your mind right now, it is worth checking if you will be able to live comfortably in the university and city you have chosen before applying. My tip is to work out how much you will end up with per month and then factor in the cost of your rent and utilities. You need to make sure that you are still left with a decent amount to enjoy your time at university as that’s part of the whole experience. As a rule of thumb, I’ve found that the further South you go the more expensive everything is, so take that into account when considering where to apply to. Leeds is a very reasonably priced and affordable city. I lived in an entire house with my partner for less than £500 a month in my second year, whereas it would be almost impossible to get a single room for the same price in London.
Finally, studying somewhere with good job prospects is also a factor to consider. If you are thinking of getting a part-time job whilst at university, Leeds has a great selection of bars and restaurants that can easily fit around your studies.
So, there you have it! I hope the tips above have helped shed some light on things to consider before applying to university. If you start the process early, ask questions, and do your research; there’s no need to worry, you’ll be fine.