Monday, 8 September 2014

University!

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University!
I decided upon placing an exclamation mark at the end because it is something exhilarating and electrifying to some, me, myself and I included.
The time is coming up for many, I know that sounds like some '2012 Apocalypse' line from some furious action movie, but actually can we compare University and especially the build up to the end of the world? It does feel that way for me if I am honest, the stress is accentuated upon my face, what with four A2's and the resit of many AS's... yes the UCAS process if flying by like a breeze...

If this is you, then please fear no more. I have some useful and pragmatic tips and advice to get you out of this Armageddon. [I am aware I exaggerate slightly...]

FIRST, start early! Even if you have just started year 12 there is nothing better than an independent responsible student who is ahead of everyone else, you will be seen as organised and trust me, it will save you so much time for year 13. Of course you will not be able to write your grades, but even if you can just jot down ideas and ask perhaps your family for their advice. I have begun mine, I did this before the summer holidays, this allowed me to be stress free for my summer but get a head start.

Also, ask and ask and ask. Persistently... you guessed it... ASK. Do not feel you are being 'annoying' or 'repetitive', teachers are there to help you with your personal statement and will ensure you to write many drafts. This is my second helpful tip, ask everyone you know, asking people in different social contexts will ensure a wide variety of answers and help, you could start by asking your friends who will be able to think of some characteristics to describe you, your family will be able to help you with who you are as a person and how well you do academically, you could ask your teachers for how they think you perform in class, and if you have a job you can ask fellow employees/boss on how you are to work with. There are many situations you can take advantage of, trust me.

Another tip is to repeatedly check the universities websites that you would like to attend, do not just put your eggs into one basket. Keep your options open and attend plenty of open days at universities just so you can have a larger perspective and look at different courses, and how perhaps the same course differs at different universities. [ALSO, you are able to use that you have attended open days on your personal statement, as this shows you are enthusiastic in learning and independent.]

Make sure there is no plagiarism within your personal statement, [because uni's are all high tech and are able to detect this easily], make sure you are being UNIQUE, and creative in YOUR OWN way. There is nothing more desirable than someone who is able to be independent and shine through their own ideas, as the saying goes, an original is worth more than a copy. 
You are however allowed to look at examples you may come across on the internet or in school, these may inspire you but make sure you are not using the other persons ideas, you could do this subconsciously, so I would recommend having your own ideas written down first. 


A tip that should hopefully be fairly obvious to all, CHECK THE UCAS WEBSITE! It is a very informative, instructional and significant site because it allows you to search for any course at any university, you are given the opportunity to find the perfect course for you.
http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/undergraduate/filling-your-application/your-personal-statement
^ This link will take you to the site and to the specific page where you can read tips, the examples of personal statements they have chosen, and find various links for more support such as a word document containing a mind map which helps you with 'where do I start?', a daunting first line that we all find ourselves saying, I especially when trying to begin an essay, WHERE OH WHERE?! [not going to lie this reminded me of, 'Romeo, Romeo, Where art thou Romeo?' I am not even sure if that is the correct line of Shakespeare, wow I am a terrible English Literature student].

I will list here many more sites which give fantastic help to those struggling with what to write or how and where to start:
http://www.cife.org.uk/how-to-write-a-good-ucas-personal-statement.html
http://www.studential.com/guide/write_personal_statement.htm
http://www.studential.com/personalstatements/

There will be more if you just 'Google' 'personal statement examples' or 'help with your personal statements' etc, [Google is NOT the answer to everything though folks!]

A few things I have read over the past few months that have really stuck out to me, is that you should not use cliche sentences in your statement, the following is something you were probably really wanting to write as well, don't worry me too, 'Ever since I was young I have dreamed of being...'
The UCAS website will give you a wider insight to the most used sentences on a personal statement and the sentences that should be avoided. The word limit is really daunting for me personally, I am currently working on my first draft and it is over 1,000 words, baring in mind it has to be 600 words, I think I'm totally doing OK! [Total sarcasm, by the way.]

Enough about the build up, I hope I am not scaring anyone, but the thought of university should be exciting, I know its even FURTHER education, but it's education like no other! [I just told you to not include any cliche sentences in your personal statement, then I start writing them myself, LOGIC!]

Uni is fast paced, exciting and an amazing way to meet new people. I know many will be excited for Freshers Week and the whole night life, that is something to look forward to if you like that kind of thing, me personally? I don't, I think I am going to just work so hard and spend my money wisely on studying. I sound like a right party animal don't I? If a future university class mate is reading this now, I know they'll definitely want to invite me out!

You have so much more independence at uni and are able to express yourself in multiple ways, I just hope you take your time finding the perfect course that suits you well, remember you will be studying it for a few years at least and will probably be paying off a big bill at the end of it! But trust me it will be worth it, to come out with a degree in something you love or want to pursue, you will find it easier for jobs to land at your feet. Experience is key, work at everything you do. Try your best to succeed and never give up, no matter what anyone tells you- you can do it. Personally- I have found ALEVELS to be very challenging and demanding but I have never once give up belief in myself, I focused and put myself to the challenge, I revised constantly and even started in the holidays before I started A2 [starting early, like I said earlier, pays off], I will never give up, I have my dad to thank for that. He pushes me everyday to not give up trying, he is persistent and he 'nags and nags' like we think most parents do, but it has given me the strength to believe I can accomplish anything. I will be coming to university with a ready mind that wants to learn and engage in new knowledge.

A long article, but a short message- DON'T GIVE UP.
Constantly ask for help and advice, email and ring up universities and talk to the professors who teach the courses they will be able to inform you on the topics and you can honestly ask them anything, so do not be scared to do so. Give in plenty of drafts to your school, they will not get 'tired and bored' of you doing so, they will help you and be with you every step of the way. Find EXPERIENCE, volunteer at a local charity shop for example as this looks fantastic, find a part time job and gain experience like social and communication skills. Find experience that suits the degree you want to go into, this shows you are determined and focused and know what you want to do in life. HAVE AN ADVENTURE, I myself have another year left at sixth form before I attend UNI but I still know that it will be an opportunity of a life time, and I am honestly excited and terrified at the same time, I want to expand my knowledge and gain more experience. My ideal goal is to find a job I LOVE, like Confucius once said, 'Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life'. 
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