University Impossible: Part 1

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately and have noticed a couple of my favourites doing Trilogy series. So, I thought I’d do a university Trilogy. This one will be about applying, moving and getting through first year when you have no idea what goes on at first.

Applying for university. In Scotland you apply online via UCAS. By the time you apply, you should have been to any open days and considered what universities you want to apply to and have an idea of what course(s) you want to apply for. You have to write up a personal statement, which should only be about 1 A4 page long, explaining things like why you want to apply for your course choice and talk about yourself mainly. It’s beneficial to talk about what an asset you will be to the university, e.g. extracurricular activities that can be carried on throughout your university career. When discussing your reasons for applying for a course it also helps to not use clichés like “All my life I’ve known I wanted to be a …” and “All I want to do is help/inspire/… people. Once your personal statement has been written up, it’s time to upload it to the application form on the UCAS website. You can apply for more than one course at the same university or different ones but, keep in mind, this makes writing the personal statement much harder because it then has to accommodate for more than one course. Also, keep in mind the different courses may have different grades that you need to be accepted. Once this is all done, you’re ready to pay the fee to send it off. An application with only 1 choice will cost you £12 while any more choices than that will cost you £23 no matter whether you have 2 or 5 choices. Ensure you send in the application by the deadline. The UCAS website has 3 different deadlines depending on what courses/universities you are applying to. Medicine, veterinary, dentistry and Oxford and Cambridge applications usually have the earliest deadlines followed by the majority of courses and then art courses Usually the earliest is in October sometime, next is January and art courses are in March. Once you’ve received all the decisions from the universities you’ve applied to you can choose your first and second choices. If you don’t get any acceptances, which is rare, or you don’t meet the grade requirements when the exam results come through, you can then enter Clearing where you pick another course at a university on the list that still has spaces left, as far as I know anyway.

Loan/bursary application. Another long process I must say. The process can be difficult to understand especially when it comes to filling out the form. The best way to get this done is to find someone who knows what to do with the application to get you the most money possible. Once you’ve sent off your application online via the Student Loans Company website, you will be sent 2 letters. The first one will just state that your loan/bursary has or hasn’t been granted and if it has it will state how much total you will be receiving for that year. The second letter will come a couple of weeks later and will show you a list of dates and amounts you will be receiving on that date. You need to keep hold of this letter and take it with you when you turn up for your induction at uni.

Moving. It could be scary moving out of your parents house and living on your own for the first time. It’s often best to enter into halls for the first year and these applications tend to need to be submitted around the same time as the UCAS and loan/bursary applications. Just a head’s up, yes it is overall cheaper to pay in 3 or 4 instalments or to just pay the full payment up front but this means you have a massive amount of money needing shifted all at once and a lot of people don’t have this option. Depending on the halls, you may be able to pay every month via direct debit and some halls require that you sign up with a housing association type company and pay that way. This may seem like a good way of doing things but when you look into it you’ll find that you have to pay the company a fee for using them and also the cost of your rent needs to be paid to them AND to the halls for the first month. End line, halls are way more expensive than they should be. My first year I was spending £440 on rent, inclusive of utilities bills, in halls and, now that I’m in second year, I have a flat with 2 flatmates from uni and I only pay £250 a month for rent and utilities. All things considered, halls are best. You will regret not staying in halls for at least 1 year. The easiest way is to go through the university’s privately owned halls. Also, if you plan on buying all your own plates, cutlery, etc then don’t splash out. Chances are it’s going to cost you a couple hundred even with the cheap stuff so don’t go crazy. Here’s a list of most things you should need, especially when moving into halls:
Pots and pans (only buy about 2 or 3, no more)
Cutlery (4 forks, spoons and knives)
Plates/bowls (again, aim for 4 of each)
Cooking utensils (a spatula and spoons for mixing and scissors)
Can opener (who doesn’t use cans when they’re a student?)
Cheese grater
Bottle Opener
Oven Gloves
Dish clothes/tea towels
Freezer bags or freezer compatible tubs
Glasses/Cups (probably best to get plastic ones)
Bed sheets
Duvet covers and pillow cases
Washing up liquid
Daz/similar brand laundry detergent (the powder that usually comes in a box)
Fabric softener (the liquid one in a bottle)

That’s all I can think of at the moment. Obviously things like stationary, food, clothes, hair products, makeup, shower products, laptop, printer (yes, it’s better to have your own printer, cheaper in the long run than paying 3-10p per sheet of paper you print in the uni!) and whatnot are pretty obvious but there are some things a lot of people forget about. Halls usually have a fridge, freezer, microwave, at least one oven and a kettle so obviously you don’t need them. A lot of halls also provide an ironing board and iron so don’t splash out on that either.

Finally, starting university. By now you’ve been accepted by your university, paid the first month’s rent and moved in. Most universities also require you to register online for your course. Some universities only allow you to register in the university. If you haven’t already emailed the uni administration with a passport quality picture for your ID card then you can get one taken on your first day of induction and wait while your ID card gets printed. If you have sent in your photo then all you have to do is go and collect your card. At this time you also need to whip out your Loans letter, the second one. This will have a barcode on the bottom of it that the university need to scan so the SLC know you’re attending and you will then definitely receive your loan every month. This only needs to be scanned the first time you apply for a loan and start uni. If you had one in first year and then move into second year with one, you don’t need to get it scanned at the start of 2nd year but if you didn’t have one in first year but you have one in second year then it needs to get scanned then. Similarly, if you are a direct entry 2nd year student with a loan it also needs scanned. Now you’re all set to start attending classes 🙂

Part 2 coming next week. Stay tuned…



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