The application process was fairly straight forward, but I understand that it is still easy to get overwhelmed by it all, as it is the start of a whole new process. I’m going to share my application experience with you to hopefully make it less stressful. One thing that helped me was to try to make this process fun and exciting. You may be thinking that’s easier said than done, but you have sooo much support around you, so let’s start there.
Seek out support
Firstly, your school or college will be happy to help you with this process. So definitely take them up on all the help you can get and don’t be afraid to keep pestering them by asking lots of questions, I did just that and it really paid off. What helped me the most was speaking to students who have already gone through the process, and reading things like the Student Blog Squad, as they have more first-hand experience about it than anyone else. Reading about students' experiences helped it all become more real and less like an alien thing; I had never even written a cover letter before applying to uni, let alone a personal statement. So squeeze as much info and help out of online resources, friends, family, students at uni and teachers when you can. Don’t forget Leeds Beckett and UCAS are also there on the end of the phone too, so don’t be afraid to give them a call. They probably recognised my number by the time I finished applying…
Make a note of deadlines
One of the common words you hear as a student is deadlines. They are forever in the back of our minds and it is very easy to let them get on top of you. This being said, they can also be helpful to guide us and you can avoid stress with some simple planning. With your uni application, give yourself enough time to do everything and most importantly, check the deadline before you start. Some universities or particular courses have different deadlines to others, so always double and triple check these deadlines against your individual course and uni. Then, if time allows, try to get your application in a good few days before the deadline in case any issues crop up, like if your personal statement is too long so it won’t upload, or your system crashes or Wi-Fi goes down. Having the extra time and not having to rush will also help improve the quality of your personal statement. It gives you time to proofread, and proofread it again, as well as checking all the details you have put in on the UCAS form, which need to be accurate. I can’t remember how many times I proofread over everything, it was a lot! Then I also got my sister and friends to read over it too, because often when you’re reading your own work you sometimes miss things, so a fresh pair of eyes looking over it will never harm.
Deciding on your top five universities
When choosing the top five universities to put in your UCAS application, give yourself time to look at every aspect of what your university experience will look like at each place. Where might you live, can you see yourself settling there? What’s the route to campus like? What’s your new area like? Pick apart your course, it will be taught slightly differently everywhere, so scrutinise the course modules – you can find them all online – and try to chat to your potential new lecturers. Remember that you are going to uni to get a degree at the end of it (and of course for the fun and socialising along the way). So, making sure that the course suits you and what you want to get out of it, is probably the most important element to consider when choosing the university.
It’s very easy to get stuck on a particular uni because of perhaps where it is, or how you’ve always dreamt of going there, but you need to be careful not to get tunnel vision about it if the course isn’t entirely what you want. The course was probably the biggest deciding factor for me as I was quite particular about which industries I wanted to go into. I had whittled my choices down to Beckett and one other and I struggled to choose which one I loved more. The other was closer to home but the course was so much more suited to what I wanted here at LBU, so I was totally torn. Now that I’ve done the first term, making my decision based on the course quality was the best thing I could have done, and the distance from home doesn’t really bother me, FaceTime works just as well!
One way that can help you decide is to make the most of your Online Open Days and Applicant Days. During these events you can speak lecturers and talk to other students online, get a feel for the uni all from your own home (saves travel and money; always looking to save money now as a student).
It's all worth it
Once you’ve submitted your application, it is a bit of a waiting game but it’s a good opportunity to possibly get to know more about the universities you’ve applied to. Do some more research and find out why you’ll love it and which you like the most, as you will still need to make the decision about which uni to go to, if you get more than one offer. I got my first email saying, ‘Log into UCAS Track’ when I was at work and my phone was there burning a hole in my bag for about three hours before I was able to check it. When I finally got to read the email I was so excited to see I had an offer accepted; I was going to uni! This was a great feeling and made it all worth it. It’s such a great, new and exciting chapter to start. However, don’t let not being accepted by one get you down, just see it as one less to try and pick from; that was the hardest bit, trying to pick which university I wanted to go to. The main reasons for me choosing Beckett out of my offer options was that the course was exactly what I wanted. Also, I really liked the general vibe of the uni, when I was there at the Open Day; everything just ran smoothly and there were so many people in purple keen to help.
Applying to uni is exciting, a little bit nerve wracking and the start of a new chapter, but don’t let it overwhelm you. It is a fairly easy process and very straight forward once you start. Just be sure to get support where you can and don’t be shy to ask questions; the silliest question is the one you don’t ask. I think the biggest piece of advice I could give you is give yourself enough time, it is not a process that you want to rush, if you don’t have to. Enjoy it, look forward to the next chapter of your life, and make it count. Coming to Beckett was the best decision I’ve ever made.