For the majority of students who have recently sat their A Level and BTEC exams at college or sixth form, the summer and the end of secondary education has arrived. In 2014 record-breaking figures showed that over 400,000 students went to university last year and although for some students, attending higher education may seem a simple step from further studies, understanding how to prepare for university can be a lot different from the average young adult expects.
Understandably, students have been preparing for university throughout their entire schooling life even if isn’t apparent to them. Most higher education institutions want students with a specific amount of UCAS tariff points which are gained from A-Level or BTEC grades, and to obtain these qualifications, students generally need a set amount of GCSEs, which then result in university offers. From the age as young as 11, students who have studied hard and progressed in their academic ability have set the journey for their university path. However, the preparation is not yet over.
The difficult process of obtaining the ‘right’ grades at college or sixth form is over, through the two years of hard work and commitment, and many institutions will use these results to make a decision whether an individual has a place on a course. But university is much more than receiving the right marks, the subject degree guides will explain what grades and from what subjects for particular degrees, although this isn’t strict with all universities and courses.
Prospective students hoping to walk through the campus gates this autumn shouldn’t assume that university will be similar to their previous education. Higher education requires more dedication, commitment and passion – yes passion! It might seem hard to imagine becoming passionate about reports on currency in the Middle East, or what camera angle is being used in Film Noir text! University offers the opportunity for passion to come alive during your time as an undergraduate.
Most students who start an undergraduate degree move away to university from home for the first, and even though it looks simple through watching your family and friends survive beforehand, paying student bills and adapting to a timetable is tough. The common task that proves difficult is being able to budget on student earnings and ensuring all necessary bills are paid (while having enough cans of baked beans to take you through the first year). You can read all of the helpful advice on student finance and student budgeting, but until you experience it first hand, lessons won’t be learnt successfully.
Few students fully comprehend how their social life will change once their first term has come around. Great friendships are meant to last for life, however, sometimes life can just get in the way. Undergraduate students may realise that they will speak to their old friends a little less, and see them only a few times a year, and make new bonds with classmates and housemates they meet at university. This is okay. There is nothing that can be done about this, and it also doesn’t mean you’re going to have to make a thousand more friends because you’re going to lose your old ones. Your friendships will just, simply, change dynamics.
Also, you’ll find yourself trying new things and going to new places. Maybe attending a nightclub, an exhibition or a picnic in Hyde Park in London which you’ve never done before. These new relationships open up doors that you can’t imagine – and you won’t regret it.
Unfortunately, there are not a definitive set of rules that tell students how to prepare for university, although prospective students should understand that they have been preparing for this journey the majority of their life and they can adapt their own path to suit their life. If students are open to the idea of meeting new people, starting a new chapter, and accepting change then basically, they are all set to go.
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