There is a vast amount of information readily available online, in prospectuses and from word of mouth of what students should expect from their degree; but it’s not always that simple. As a student applying for university for the following year, or a fresh undergraduate at the start of their course, you’re going to have certain expectations in mind about what it is going to be like to obtain a degree. Your experience might not be exactly how you thought it was going to be, so read ahead to find out what should students expect from their degree and if your expectations match up with ours.
When flicking through several prospectus’ the price of actually studying at university can put anybody off – but it’s not as bad as it looks. Yes, tuition fees are currently as high as £9,000 but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have to pay that! Universities and independent colleges have the right to charge up to this amount for a course, each year, meaning it could be as much as £27,000 for an undergraduate degree. However, if this is your first time studying an undergraduate degree and are a British Citizen you are eligible to take out a student loan. The Student Loan Company (SLC) then pays your course fees for you, and you pay them back, monthly, from your pay check – but only once you are earning a ‘decent’ amount. Not so scary now is it?
Lecturers are under pressure
The work of a teacher is unimaginable to anybody else not in the teaching profession, however, the workload of a university lecturer can be even worse! University level degrees are tougher, with more coursework, exams, presentations and marking required. The teaching day can be longer, with classes going on until 10pm – depending on the university or college’s opening times and timetable. Never take for granted the work that your lecturer does for you, even it doesn’t seem it. If you feel unsure about any piece of work or would want a personal one-on-one tutorial, then try to book a session with your lecturer.
Paying for your independent learning
The Student Loans Company can dish out maintenance loans (which you have to pay back) and grants (which you don’t have to) to students to aid them during study. This should be used for living accommodation; rent, bills etc., food, and anything you might need as a student, like, travel expenses and textbooks. But SLC can’t pay your way for every minor thing and if the student loans aren’t sufficient you might have to get a part-time job or save some cash before you go. You will have to pay for some part of your independent learning.
Your own tutor
Most universities and colleges allocate a personal tutor to look after a year of students, this could be, depending on that tutor’s working hours, focused on one course/school or department. For example, if you’re studying a philosophy degree your entire first year of the course may have a personal tutor. Your tutor is your first port of call for any issue, question or problem you may have, that could be submitting a piece of coursework on time, dealing with personal issues or finding you simply don’t have the money to be able to get to class – get in touch with your tutor. Your tutor will then be able to pass you on to the right people if they can’t help, or deal with your problem for you.
The courses available
In the 21st century it seems that you can take a degree course in practically anything, from puppetry to painting, but you really need to conduct research before you dive into any decision or degree. No two courses are ever the same – even if it has the same title! – They will host varying modules or teach separate theories. This is why research is important, you need to ensure you are taking the right course by understanding what it will be like to take that degree. It’s easy to pick a course because you assume it will have the material that you want to study and the consequences won’t be very nice!
The chance of employment after
Unemployment figures are still a scary statistic in the United Kingdom and it does affect everybody; especially graduates. More people are attending university and walking out with a degree and saturating the market – meaning, it seems like a lot of people have degrees now. But don’t allow this to deter you from your dream! If you want to study chemistry then do it. The job market might just be a little harder to get into than before. This surely just means that you have to work that extra bit harder to obtain the job of your dreams! Research the employment figures in your chosen career path before applying and during your years of study to guarantee you stay ‘in the know’. Try to gain experience and boost your CV whilst at university so you have a better chance of securing that job when you graduate.
Obtaining a degree and studying at university will have its expectations and then its reality and sometimes these don’t match up. You might find some of your expectations of what it’ll be like as a student fade away when you start in September, but that’s okay! In some cases reality is much better than expectation anyway!
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