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Rivière Offline
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Name: Sarah
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Going to University - November 10th 2014, 07:47 PM

This has been on my mind for quite some time now and I've been debating whether or not to really discuss this but after chatting with a friend a few minutes ago I thought I may as well write an insane essay about it here hoping to get some advice and support out of it along the way.

Long story short, I used to have 2 counsellors and I'd talk to one about my thoughts on university. As much as I'd ended up cancelling seeing her in the end, she did make a very good point to me. I'd told her how I was afraid to go to university because I don't think I'd be very good at it. She pointed out the word afraid and then told me the reason why I choose not to go is solely because I'm afraid that I'll fail. This I realise is actually true because for much of my life my family, however 'nice' they have been, without realising, have always put me down into feeling like everything I'd try will end up in failure. My counsellor said to me that if I don't try, then how will I know if I'm good at it. Well..she was right about that too. How will I?

Despite making a mess of my AS Levels I realised I have this huge passion for Photography. I'd really like to do it at university but my problem is that I have no money, no equipment and no idea what the hell I'm even supposed to do to get to university.

For those who aren't in the UK, we have to have a certain amount of UCAS points in order to be considered for a degree. I have well over the required amount in several universities which range from 200-280. I have over 400 which is great.

But here's my issue. I've always thought I'd have to have some kind of pre-university education in Photography or similar first. I've taken an AS Level but I never got the complete A Level in Photography. Would I need anything Photography-related to be accepted for a photography degree? Or would it just help?

I know you can get grants and stuff if you don't earn a certain amount here in Wales, and well, no one in my family except my brother work right now, so that's that sorted....but then what about student accommodation? I've heard that some can cost quite a lot.

For those of any country who've been to university, what's it like? Is it far different to college? My brother's been to university and has a degree in computer science. He said that university is a lot better than college although it can be a lot of hard work.

I'm definitely willing to put whatever required amount of hard work in that's necessary because I really want to do this, but then what if I have course questions or need some extra help? I could speak to the course tutor or whatever but are they ever helpful and/or understanding?

I know there's a lot of different age groups that go to university, but are certain age groups stuck together? Or is it like college where it's mixed? And is it easy to make friends and/or get to know people? I wouldn't say I'm as socially useless as I used to be but I find it hard to talk to people younger than myself because it feels like they've already made friends and probably won't want to talk to someone 'old' and I guess that makes me a bit anxious.

Sorry for all the questions.


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Re: Going to University - November 10th 2014, 08:48 PM

Hey Sarah,

Your counsellor made a very good point (and in fact, I have recently realised that about myself too!), you’ll never know if you never try!

Photography sounds interesting and I think you should definitely try for a degree in it. I think it would be a good idea to research what universities you are interested in- local or further away? I don’t know about equipment, but once you have decided on a few universities (UCAS allow up to 4 or 5 choices, I think), you can contact them and find out.

Even though you have over the average amount of UCAS points, once you have researched universities, you’ll be able to get a better idea of what you need. For example, some universities ask for A-Level grades, while others just go by points. Sometimes, you may be asked to have an A-Level in a certain subject (e.g. I did a degree in Education and English, and needed an A-Level in English). That said, I didn’t need anything for the Education side. As for whether you need an A-Level or similar in Photography, again it would be best to research or contact the university. Once you have applied and received an offer, you may also need to be interviewed/provide a portfolio of your work.

The Welsh government will subsidise your tuition fees (they pay around £5,000 and then you can take out student loans for the other £3465….not repayable until you earn at least £25,000, I think). Everyone is entitled to the grant, but that depends on income. The maximum amount of grant is around £5,000 per year. For student accommodation, I guess that depends on what university you are hoping to go to. Accommodation in London would be much more expensive than Cardiff, say. If you want student accommodation in one of the campuses, this is probably the most expensive option. My university had a choice of catered and non-catered accommodation. Catered was more expensive, but I can’t remember the cost. Around £300-£400 a month? Not too sure. That said, depending on where you live and what university you want to go, you may not be eligible for campus accommodation (e.g. if you don’t live too far away, you may be rejected). The other option is private accommodation. To lower the costs, it is helpful to live with others. My friends paid around £250-£350 a month when they lived together. They also shared the cost of bills. If the university is local to you, you could choose to travel, which is also considerably cheaper- but not the option for everyone!

I loved university! I can’t talk about college, but compared to 6th form in school, it is so much better. You are studying something that you are truly interested in, with others who feel the same way. Since it takes a lot of hard work to get into university, everyone is generally more mature than in school (I mean, some in my school would mess around all the time). It can be hard work at times, but if you organise your time wisely, it isn’t too bad at all. If it helps at all, no-one failed my course- we all graduated with a good degree classification. The social life is great too (apparently). The main difference between 6th form and university, is that you have more freedom- you are responsible for your own learning. You won’t have lecturers chasing you up about work or ‘spoon-feeding’ you the answers. But you will gain independence, and confidence in managing your time and work schedules effectively- which is a really good skill for ‘real life’. Also, you won’t be stuck in a ‘classroom’. You’ll probably have lectures and seminars (small group work sessions), and time to do independent learning.

There will always be someone who can help you with queries. Generally, if you had issues with specific parts of your course (‘modules’) you would ask the module leader (your lecturers/tutors). Anything else would be directed to the course director, or head of department. From my experience, my lecturers were always helpful when I emailed them about something and they are very understanding. Even though university is more independent, they still want you to do well, and definitely don’t want you to struggle in silence! If you needed extra help, you could definitely ask for it. Also, there is always the student services- who can also provide free counselling.

It’s definitely mixed! I’m 21 and my friends were around my age, but one of my friends was 26. There were a few mature students and I even volunteered for a project with someone who was double my age! It doesn’t make much of a difference at all. Plenty of people on my course were one or two years older than me, but it made no difference, we all got on. You’re all there for the same reason- you all want to learn. I think it is easy to make friends. I spent all of my high school time (7 years) getting picked on or being a loner. I was scared to go to university because I thought it would just carry on and I wouldn’t make any friends. But I was wrong! There are also different societies you can join to make more friends.

Hope I helped a bit!

Best of luck with everything


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Re: Going to University - November 10th 2014, 10:34 PM

Oh my god. Thank you SO much for your detailed answer! I never actually thought about researching universities, which is something I should have considered from the very start. There is a university where I live but it's not exactly one of the greatest and I think I'd rather one that's a bit further away. Mainly because I also want to have a life out and away from my family, university will help with just that.

Thank you again!


Life is for living, not for losing.
   
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