Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Student Accomodation

Applying for student accommodation is the next step in terms of moving out and moving onwards with your degree. Currently, I too am in that process and it can be as time consuming as previously applying for UCAS and for student finance was. What I mean to say is, you really have to think about what you're doing. Unlike these other applications, student living comes after your offer has been accepted and this means you have much less time to apply. When applying, like when you were applying to all of your choices, make sure you bear in mind:

1. Is this the university you want to go to?
Once you have begun making payments for your place of living, there will be a lot of money and time you cannot get back if you do wish to revoke your application for a place and decide you want to accept another. If the place is your first choice and you feel you stand a good chance of gaining the requirements to accept your place, then this will make the application process feel more worthwhile.

2. Do you want to move away from home?
Many people get home sick or simply like the area where they live - there is nothing wrong with this! But it does make moving away much harder. If moving out is something you feel you want to do and need to do in order to move on with your studies, then it can be a fantastic decision. However, if you decide you want to move out and change your mind, like in 1, this means a lot of trouble can be caused in later stages.

3. Can you afford to stay in halls of residence?
Halls can often be more expensive meaning that sometimes it can be easier to stay at home. Obviously this is not always possible, but halls are not the only place to stay. When considering accommodation options, ask the college if they have connections to any other places of student living which you could apply to. You will often find these places are much easier to afford due to the fact that they are less in demand (although, of course, there will still be many applying)

4. Get your application in as early as possible!
As mentioned in 3, Halls and any place of student living will be in high demand so it is better to get your application in as early as possible. This way, you are more likely to gain access to one of your first choices (e.g. a three bedroom flat instead of a 7) Also, as with all of these never ending applications, once you have the application out of the way, you have more time to focus on getting into university opposed to what you will do once you get there.

5. Remember to not be complacent
Although you have so far reached the accommodation process, don't let it allow you to become complacent. If you do, then you won't be working as hard to achieve what you need to get into university. As fantastic as it is that you have come so far, conditional offers mean that you have to get what the college says to accept your place. If you pay for accommodation and don't pass, it is still highly likely that there will be money you will be required to pay off for living, despite not even living there!

6. Make yourself comfortable
Get to know the area and make sure your student finance and any job related paper work is sorted long before the summer holidays so that things will be prepared for your first day of enrolment. In enrolment week, it is the norm that student loans don't get into your bank account for around a week so in order to get your keys and gain access to your room for that first week, you will probably be asked to make an on the spot deposit before your student finance has become accessible to them. But if you do have all this done by enrolment day, think how relieved you will be and how much easier it will make the whole process!

As always, I hope you are all doing well with the application process and that revision is going well. Best of luck!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Turning 18, The Vote + applying for accomodation

Someone once told me 'my life didn't begin when I turned 18 - it started 18 years ago' and I'm only just now really starting to understand what they mean by that. Constantly looking to the future, it often seems that we are able to forget how important to us elements of the present are.

Last week it became official, at least in terms of age, that soon it will be summer and time for me to go off to university and begin studying entirely differently, meeting new people and saying goodbye to a lot of things that have been a big part of my life up until now. Whilst the opportunity of a clean slate and getting to experience new things is incredibly exciting, like a lot of the elements that becoming a student/ adult require, it is still also quite scary to be part of a different category so quickly.

The check list of things to do is getting smaller (things like making sure I have enough cutlery and a laundry basket ready for when I move out and revising at least four hours on a weekend day) with the important things such as student finance forms completed (and confirmed via post) my choices made about where I want to go (LCM) and getting extra help with any elements of work I am struggling with as soon as possible. It is a relief, as it seemed it would be upon first looking at the bulk of things to do, that so much of that is done now. It means that exams are a lot less stressful - there is time to worry without it risking any damage to the work already done. There is also the added bonus of a violin exam and a vocal exam coming up which will hopefully result in a few extra UCAS points to take the strain off the actual exams themselves (tip to any musicians not applying to conservatoires also - ABRSM exams grade 6 and above equal a certain number of UCAS points - for both theory and practical)

The check list now looks something like this:

1. Work over the summer
This money will be useful not only to extra music lessons and required materials for class, but also to have some beginning when it comes to paying for accommodation.

2. Learning to drive
This is a skill for life! Living quite far away from home, it will also mean the transport fees (e.g. train, bus) will not be as expensive if transport via car is accessible.

3. Study hard
These exams come only once - although a repeat year could be possible at college, it is time to move on with life and keep working hard to reach new information. Although high grades may not be necessary to get to university, it is still important that hard work and high goals come into the revision process in order to get the best grades possible.

4. Learn in a manner which is fun!
In this modern day and age, access to information has never been more widely available. This means that there are numerous things to be learning everywhere we go. Make the most of this - learn outside of the classroom as well as in it and put into practice skills that you can that you have learned perhaps within a classroom.

5. Have hobbies
Outside of work, it is important that there is time to appreciate how hard work can be draining, as can the worry and stress of all the change. Find something outside of your chosen field (whether it be music or literature, languages or sport) and put it into practice for a little while each week. (Mine are swimming and reading)

6. Learn the cello
(For me, this connects kind of to 5)

7. Vote
This is something I individually am especially looking forward to, especially with so many debates, issues etc which are occurring and can be seen every time you look at the news or newspaper. With the general election coming up on May 7, it is important that our generation has a say. This year it is important to vote alone, so make sure you register as soon as possible if you want to have your say.

8. Making a bucket list
Things that I want to do before I'm 21. These can be long term or short term goals that help with studies, getting to see the world, travelling etc.

Now, as for student accommodation, the forms have only just been sent off. It took quite a while to fill out the form to ensure that I got everything right - similar to the student finance forms and the original UCAS form. I found it useful to:

1. Find out extra information
There was plenty of information in the general instructions given on the website in relation to application forms, but there was also a contact address which proved important in finding out more about the area and what it is like to live there.

2. Making a list of requirements
Knowing what you need to take with you is important so that you are prepared once you arrive. This includes all manner of things from cutlery to bed sheets. And of course all of the things that you want to take with you that remind you of home or help in your day to day work.

3. Looking for work
Visit the area - this is easier on open days. Identify popular places where it is easier to get work so that you can begin applying once you have arrived and have your time table.

4. Where do you want to live?
Take into consideration that you have options. You do NOT have to stay in halls if this is not what you want - often colleges have connections to other student organised accommodation which they can give you more information on. This can also often be cheaper or more accessible (you will not necessarily get a place in halls, particularly if rooms are limited and your application is late) As well as this, consider what type of room you want to be staying in - do you want a single or shared space? Do you want your own room? Do you want to be sharing with 5 people or 2 people? One gender or mixed? are there friends you know also applying for accommodation there who you would like to share with? - bear in mind, this place will be your home for quite a while (at least a year) so you want to feel comfortable there, especially around the people you'll be seeing every day and sharing a larger portion of your time with.

5. Be sure
After thinking everything through, take your time filling out the forms and posting it/ emailing it. For example if, your place is conditional (firm) make sure that you take into consideration the fact that if you don't meet your target grades, you may still need to pay off your application.

Good luck and happy half term!