Time to spare? Get ‘uni-ready’ for next year

If you’re in year 12 you can use this time wisely to be prepared and get ahead.

Check out these five ways – from exploring campuses online to preparing your application – from our university experts Lucy Moir and Hannah Mead, Collaborative Outreach Officers for Make Happen.

1. Stay on-message: keep up-to-date with higher education news

Currently, the time frame around how long this coronavirus pandemic will last is uncertain. But there’s no harm taking charge of the situation and keeping informed about the current updates, particularly about applying to university in 2021.

UCAS is continually updating its website with their response to the Coronavirus outbreak and the Student Loans Company are providing updates about applying for funding. Please note, their social media feeds are not being regularly updated.

TIP! The best source of information is from those who directly deal with admissions. Therefore, try not to read too many news articles from unreliable sources and only stick to those written either directly by universities themselves, or the organisations below.


2. Explore your options: browse university campuses online

With more than 350 universities or providers and 35,644 courses for next academic year on UCAS, it’s never too early to start your research to help you narrow down where you might like to go to university and what you might want to study, or whether you even want to go to university in the first place!

TIP! Social media – search universities on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see if they’re holding any live virtual tours where you’ll be able to ask questions about the campus and receive a live response.

1. Become familiar with searching for undergraduate courses on UCAS and practise using the different filter options on the left hand side, where you can narrow down your choices by factors like location, course type and entry requirements.

2. Sign up to an online university open day. Lots of universities are offering this as an alternative to conventional open days, where you can still find out everything you need to know through virtual campus tours and live chats from subject departments and current students.

3. If you don’t yet know where you want to study and don’t want the commitment of signing up to an open day, try some virtual tours and videos so you can explore a campus and its facilities at your own pace. Use this as a chance to compare a city university to a more rural campus university.


3. Get involved: try an online university webinar

This is another great way to prepare for next year and the decisions you’ll have to make around going to university. You can use these online events to reflect on whether university is right for you, or ask questions about important details like student finance or the type of accommodation you might stay in.

It might also help give you a first impression of a particular university as you’ll get a feel for how friendly their staff and students are and whether you can imagine studying there. See UCAS for all virtual events.

TIP! The University of Brighton is an example of a university offering a series of online chats throughout April and May. There is no pressure to contribute to the discussion if this makes you a bit nervous! It might be just as helpful to listen to the questions being asked and answered by other students.


4. Do some useful prep: get ahead for future applications

Use this time to prepare for all your future applications, whether that be for a part-time job, university or future employment. Having some go-to notes to look back on will save you time preparing for future applications or interviews in the long run.

TIP! Doing this now will help to minimise stress during ‘high pressure points’ throughout the academic year where you might be balancing studying, exams, work experience, part-time work and applying for university and/or apprenticeships all at the same time.

Try the following to help you prepare:

  • Either as a list or mind map come up with five to ten key transferable skills and match them to two specific examples where you can demonstrate these skills to a future employer or university.
  • For example, leadership- took control of map reading when my group got lost during my practice Duke of Edinburgh expedition. This could also show teamwork or problem-solving skills. You can use the same example for more than one skill but the more varied examples you have the better as you want to show off your full range of experiences. Don’t worry if you don’t have two examples for each! This can be a working document that you can keep adding to as you gain new experiences throughout your life.
  • Highlight the skills where you might need another example and start thinking about how you could fill this gap in the future. Is there a new skill that you could spend this time developing?

Here are some examples:

1. There are lots of ways to learn basic computer programming online at home, which could show problem-solving skills as well as resilience and self-motivation.

2. Over-the-phone volunteering to support isolated people during this time could show a desire to help and take responsibility, as well as demonstrating those all-important communication skills.

3. Designing and implementing your own training programme for running 10k if you’re able to, could show time management, resilience and self-discipline.


5. Healthy habits: looking after your wellbeing

During this time, it’s easy to forget about your own personal wellbeing. You might be feeling anxious or worried about how the current situation could impact you and your future. It will probably help to maintain a level of productivity so that you keep focused and on track – remember, this is only temporary and will pass.

Use this time to create healthy habits that will stand you in good stead for living and studying independently in the future.

TIP! Most importantly, remember to check in with your friends! You could even schedule in time to FaceTime and complete a study session together. There’s nothing stopping you from hanging out online.

  • Plan your day – this might be in the form of a timetable, where you allocate time to study on a particular topic. You might simply create a mind map, revision flashcards or watch a YouTube video on that specific subject area. Remember to allocate time for breaks and if you’re unable to focus, take time out and go back to your work when you feel ready to.
  • Create a study area – this will help with focusing. Dedicate either a space in your house and try to get an agreement with the people that you live with that the space is yours alone for a set period of time. Grab some highlighters, textbooks and pens and make it as comfortable as possible so that you’re able to focus for a period of time.
  • Free online education resources, such as The Student Room, with activities and guides are available online to use and download. Check out the study tools under each subject area, including past exam papers.

Always seek professional support if you’re feeling anxious or worried about Coronavirus by visiting Young Minds who can provide advice and guidance.

More useful links:
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"If you don’t yet know where you want to study and don’t want the commitment of signing up to an open day, try some virtual tours and videos so you can explore a campus and its facilities at your own pace."