University and the idea of obtaining a degree have changed severely from what it use to be hundreds of years ago. What use to be catered only for the elite holds a higher acquire ability in modern day society, and is available to individuals across all classes, gender and ethnicities. Even with the perceptions of higher education altered so drastically, there still seems to be two outlooks that are stronger than the rest; that university is hard to get into, or that ‘everybody’ goes to university now. These two opposing perspectives are both right and wrong in so many ways and can affect any young person who is considering attending university. Read on to see what you really need to get into university and the best way for getting ready for university.
Higher education is a popular route for persons who have just completed their A-Levels, or who have a career goal in mind. However, it isn’t limited to 16-19-year-olds. Lots of institutions welcome mature students (who can be anyone over the age of 21), and never discriminate against age. But if you are thinking about getting a degree, the only thing you need to think about is if it is what you want to, and will it benefit you long-term?
Making the decision to go to university shouldn’t just occupy your weekend, but a long process where you can weigh up all different options and be able to really answer, confidently, the question, ‘Why do you want to go to university?’.
Many undergraduate students choose higher education to progress in a certain career or use it as a stepping stone to complete a PhD, Masters and Doctorate qualification. And is your creep higher into the educated world, those levels of qualification require specific steps beforehand for you to be eligible – as well as able – to complete.
With university; and each institution and course have their own entry requirements which translate to what you need to have to be accepted. Even if they a specific list that they are looking for, you might find that these requirements aren’t set in stone – they can be bent slightly. For each individual, you should speak to your university and discuss if the qualifications or experience that you have will be sufficient enough to get onto that course. The reason that these requirements are put in place, is to ensure all students have a similar knowledge, learning experience, or academic ability at the very beginning. University is very much different from other levels of education and you are expected to study independently alongside your degree – not all the information, research and work will be placed in front of you. So institutions want their students to feel comfortable and able to complete the work during the course.
University prospectus’ usually display on each course page what is required for students to apply, (and again a general requirement for entry into the university). The most common qualification listed would be A-Levels. However, it may state (or equivalent), which are other qualifications such as BTEC and National Diplomas/Certificates. You can contact the university to speak to an advisor or a member of staff in the admissions department if you feel unsure that your qualifications will be expected.
Even if you have A-Levels, some courses ask that you have standard GCSEs, like, Mathematics, English and Science, and these will be listed. Although if you are a mature student, some universities ask for what qualifications you do have and will then act accordingly. Attending an open day will be ideal for you to speak to staff members, Department heads and previous students to get an idea if what you hold is enough for you to apply.
Higher education courses come in all different shapes and sizes, and they might need levels and/or hours of experience along with qualifications. Again if you are a mature student, or not applying through the traditional process of UCAS, work experience may be substituted with specific qualifications. Relevant experience will always be looked over and will compliment your application, so if you have any, put it down!
Whether you are applying via UCAS or directly to the institution itself, you should always have a document – whether it is a personal statement, or under a question like, ‘Why do you want to apply for this course?’ etc – where you can talk about yourself. This is your time to shine, and to give your application a lease of life! Universities want to know about you, they sit through thousands of applicants and they want the chance to read about someone, their passions and why they want to study with them. This statement is also a great opportunity for you to explain anything that might be lacking in your application, like work experience or the right qualifications, you can explain why you might not have the right requirements but how you will succeed in the course. Your personal statement is similar to an academic monologue directed at that university.
In some cases, universities like to interview their potential students, and the majority of the time it is just so they can put a face to the name at the top of the application. Staff members like to meet the people that might walk their halls for three years, and want to ensure that you’re not a robot! Interviews can be a part of the application process, for courses like teaching, or universities, like Oxbridge.
Certain universities and courses will have admission tests which you have to pass before you are considered. These are another part of the process where universities can narrow down their applicants, as sadly, they can’t accept everyone! The prospectus or website will have information about if you have to complete any admission tests, they are usually on top of the application process – so you will have to complete the application and anything else listed as well.
Although courses can be so different from each other in what they want from their potential students and applicants, universities are really looking for inspiring, hardworking and passionate people who will thrive at studying at their institution and if you think you can offer more than that and you’re ready and passionate about the subjects that you’re studying about, then be sure to check out some university guides, to help you out, too.
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