Ever since eldest started High School, his teachers have talked about how University would be a good move for him. It’s not something we put much thought into until he left school last year. We already knew he would be staying on at Sixth Form to do A-Levels, and that the next step from that was University, but that’s as far as our thoughts went. Now he’s starting his second year at Sixth Form, it’s time to start thinking further ahead, and making preparations for that next step.
But, having never gone to University myself, and neither has the hubby, or any of our immediate family really, we literally have no idea where to even begin……
…….So I turned to my fellow Bloggers to ask their advice on where to start and what we need to know.
This is what they said :-
Pete from Household Money Saving, says : “A student bank account is a good place to start. These accounts often offer a 0% overdraft which can last until after you finish Uni. Some accounts also offer a free Railcard, which can be a real money saver if you travel a lot. Student accounts can also offer credit cards. These can be a double-edged sword though. On the one hand, it’s a great way of improving your credit score and getting to grips with finances. On the other hand, if you begin to rely on your card, it will cost you a fortune.”
Emma from Emma and 3 says : “Go to as many open days as you can to see which is the one you feel comfortable with. Secondly make sure you don’t set your heart on one. You will choose a couple and make sure your insurance or second choice has lower UCAS points required than the top choice. It is amazing how many put the same points down as second choice and then when they don’t get the points they wanted are disappointed. Finally get lots of support from sixth form teachers – they are experts at this.”
Leanne from Ankle Biters Adventures says : “Learn about budgeting and set a weekly budget and try to stick to it as much as you can to avoid being left short at the end of term.”
Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders says : “Live in halls for the first year (unless you are going local) then you get to meet and bond with loads of other students in the same place. Great parties and a proper student lifestyle. (I went local and didn’t stay in halls and am bitter 😀 )”
Kate from Dark Tea says : “My experience of going to university is 20 years old, but I’ve worked at Oxford Brookes for the last year so I’ve gain more current knowledge.
If the desired job is known look at what qualifications are needed e.g. nursing degree, engineering may want a masters. Then look for courses that meet that. Look at national student survey results to get an idea of what current students think of the course. Go to several open days to see facilities, halls, meet lecturers and get a “feel” for the place. Our open days start in October.”
Kate’s also provided this helpful link for the National Student Survey results : “NSS results are on unistats website http://m.unistats.ac.uk”
Anoushka from Spitting Yarn says : “Learn how to cook three really simple, cheap things before you go. Hopefully your hall mates will do the same, and between you, you won’t starve or end up malnourished! Versatile things like stew, roast chicken and a pasta bake are good.”
Mandi from Hex Mum Blog says : “Don’t rush it! My eldest went through the whole open day/ interview process last year, got two offers and decided she would have a year off, she decided against deferring and started from scratch, this year she has changed her course completely and goes next Thursday!”
Kate from Kate On Thin Ice says : “Be yourself and you will find your tribe/heartfelt friends and with a bit of luck they will last a lifetime. Also be aware the most confident are putting on their own particular act and inside have all the worries and wobbles you do. Also have a first aid kit and an iron.”
Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof has some alternative advice : “Decide if you really need to go to university for what you’re planning to do or see if an apprenticeship or working your way up in a company is a better route. Both me and hubby wish we had never bothered going tbh. It was just expected of us by our parent. So many of our friends do jobs that have nothing to do with their degrees. It’s a lot of time and money to put in when it might not be necessary. I hope that doesn’t sound too pessimistic I just think there is too much pressure put on kids to have to attend uni when it really doesn’t suit everyone. We won’t be pushing our kids to go in future unless they really want to or they have to for chosen career path.”
Chloe from Life Unexpected says : “From my own experience of going to University, it’s definitely important that you do lots of research. Do go and visit the top two universities they’d like to go to. They might look great on paper but seeing them in person will show you the atmosphere they give off and that’s just as important. Make sure you research student accommodations early. The best options usually get booked up fast so try and get your favourite one booked. One thing I cannot stress enough is working out how far the student loan and bursaries will get you. It’s so important to set a monthly budget that includes everything from accommodation, to bills, to food and make sure the student to be understands how far their money can go. I didn’t do this at first and in my first few months of University, I ended up getting into debt very quickly. My poor mum had to bail me out until I realised that a part time job would pay for all those little extras (student nights, student shopping habits etc). Lastly…teach them to cook some basics before they go. Quick budget meals will become their best friends!”
Lauren from Sophie’s Nursery says : “See if there is an option to have catered accommodation for the first year – I did this & it meant my parents knew I wasn’t going hungry as food was all paid for. I wouldn’t do it for longer than a year as I think learning to cook is such an important life skill, but it helped me just to get through the initial first year shock!”
Emma from Our Fairytale Adventure says : “I graduated a few years ago and my sister is about to start this September. Firstly, really think about what sort of ‘vibe’ would suit your child best. I was at a small campus for two years and it was suffocating and not a nice environment to live in. For my final year I moved to a larger campus, which was much nicer. Look at what the course covers in detail, especially if thinking of masters and PHDs in the future. Choose a course that covers the areas of study that would be most relevant / beneficial and keep in mind that up to date modules are always a bonus for some industries (i.e. digital journalism). Get funding sorted early. Student finance is a complete pain and there is nothing worse than a delayed loan / grant. Living wise, I think it depends on the person but my rooms were always quite dismal. We would cover our walls with posters and add homely touches to make it seem less like prison. If there is damp, you may be entitled to get some money back from the rent and for the university or landlord to keep on top of it. Don’t stress too much about money, university is an education and part of the experience is learning to live off rice and pasta pesto is all part of it. Socially, I’d really recommend taking a few beers / bottles of wine to share with new housemates. Also check out the freshers fair and join a club or society. It’s a great way to meet people and the socials are always good fun. Assignments, don’t leave it until last minute and read the module / assignment brief properly and make sure to go to as many lectures as possible… it’s the easiest way of covering the right criteria and bumping up the grades. Most books are available in the library, so buying them isn’t always necessary. Always check before splashing out! Don’t spend recklessly… a new TV in the first week may seem like a good idea… until the end of term is miles away and there is no money in the bank account. Finally, enjoy the experience!”
Emma from Bubba Blue And Me says : “If you need help with funding look out for local grants. In our town a local charity give out grants to students for books. I just filled in a form and each year had £400. Not many people tend to know about them so they’re definitely worth asking round for. And when buying books ask older students on your course what they really used and then buy second hand checking you’ve got the latest version (or get in quick at the library).”
Helen from Witty Hoots says : “Make a list of the ‘other’ stuff they will to do as well – changing drs, dentist, registering to vote, TV licence, contents insurance, bus/rail/metro passes. Basically all the grownup stuff that we just do automatically.”
Helen from The Queen of Collage says : “If I were to recommend anything I’d say don’t buy all the books on the reading list straight away just as and when they need them if at all. Also if they are going with others work out who’s taking what you don’t need more than one iron for instance.”
Thank you everyone for your tips and advice. I hope readers find them as helpful to think about as we have xxx