Higher education means much more than just studying for a degree, it’s a chance to meet new people, learn to live independently and take advantage of a huge range of new opportunities.
Getting a degree does not guarantee that you will get a well paid job, but research has shown that graduates have lower unemployment rates and on average earn higher salaries than those with lower qualifications. Graduates also tend to progress up the career ladder more quickly, so it would seem that going to university is a good idea in terms of your future career prospects.
If you are thinking of applying to university you will need to consider which subject or combination of subjects you would like to study and where you would like to study. Research and look into different Universities thoroughly before making your decision. Universities regularly hold open days and if you’re able to attend one at a uni you’re interested in then we definitely recommend you go.
Higher education is a very different experience to school or college education as a lot more is expected from you. Your tutors will provide guidance but you are responsible for your attendance, your own learning, meeting deadlines and managing your time.
You will also need to think about how you will pay for your studies and if you want to live away from home whilst you study. Depending on your circumstances, most people are entitled to apply for financial support to help them pay for their studies. See our student finance section for more information on the financial side of university.
This section can give you advice on how to prepare for University and give you information on applying, interviews, finances, and studying abroad.
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Applying for a place at university can be a lengthy process and it‘s important to research and take your time to get it right.
Most applications for full time degree, foundation degree and HND courses are made through UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. (Applications for part time courses are mostly made direct to the institution). All applications for entry to courses offered at universities and colleges in the UK are now made online using Apply.
- This can be accessed from the UCAS website and provides a secure, web-based, online application system that you do not have to install. This means you can complete your form on a computer and it will be sent to UCAS via the web.
- Apply has full guidelines and online help text.
- There is also a guide called Applying Online which will be given to you if you are at school or college.
The Careers Wales website has all the help and advice you‘ll need to make the best application possible including deadlines you have to meet and tips on writing your personal statement.
Interviews For Higher Education
Interviews for university places are generally far less common than they used to be. Depending on the university and/or the course(s) you have applied for, you may not be interviewed but selected on the basis of what you have put on your application form. However, certain universities still interview many applicants and for certain courses like medicine, nursing and teaching you will certainly be interviewed.
Places can be limited on some courses so the universities want to select candidates that they feel will be the highest achievers possible. Most people feel nervous at the thought of an interview but preparation can help you overcome this.
Some tips to help you:
- Think about the course you’ve applied for – what makes you right for it? Why have you chosen that particular course of study?
- Try and find out about the university – think about why you have chosen that particular academic institution for your studies and the answers you could give if asked that question. Most universities would like to think that it is their teaching reputation that attracts students and not that their location is convenient!
- Have some questions ready to ask at the interview as it shows that you’ve thought about the course and what it involves.
- Speak clearly and avoid simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers, the reason you are being asked questions is because they want to find out more about you.
- If you are not successful in gaining a place, remember being rejected is part of life and nothing to beat yourself up about – you will learn from the experience. Being turned down doesn’t mean you’re not suitable to study elsewhere.
Clearing is the process by which people who haven‘t been offered a place at university by the end of August try to find one at universities and colleges that still have vacancies.
Clearing is open to those who:
- Don‘t receive any offers from their original application
- Refuse all their offers from their original application
- Apply late – after 30th June
- Who have been turned down by their firm and insurance offers
Student life will be very different to anything you’ve experienced before, especially if you’re attending a university away from where you live and leaving home for the first time.
You’re probably feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness about this. You’ll be meeting new people, learning to live independently, managing your student finances and budgeting your money, whilst you start a course of study for the next few years of your life.
Get students’ perspectives on university life on The Student Room’s University Life forum
Living and studying abroad is a wonderful way of broadening your horizons and learning useful skills like languages.
Some courses offer the option of studying for a year in a university in another country. It can also be a great way of finding out what life would be like in another country if you were considering moving there.
There are a few things you should consider:
- Do you have the minimum language skills to be able to cope?
- Will it cost you money?
- Are you independent enough to survive in a foreign country?
Take advantage of any opportunities that come your way, but make sure you have thought things through first.
You’ll find more information in our Your World section on Living Abroad.
Erasmus+ is an EU programme that encourages British students to study abroad. Check out their website here.
The cost of university is a huge factor when it comes to deciding whether to study for a degree. It’s a lot to weigh up and not a decision to be taken lightly. Student Finance Wales is the company that will pay your grants, student loans or bursaries on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Check for regular updates on their Twitter page @SF_Wales and their Facebook page here