By Katie Harkness
APPLICATION… PERSONAL STATEMENT… OPENDAYS… CAREER… FUTURE… STRESS!!
That dreaded university deadline is breathing down your neck, you can ignore it as much as you want but the day is going to come when you have to press that ‘submit’ button on your application, and there’s no going back. Pure fear is what you’re feeling, right? Me too.
What seems like it should be the painless part of the process is in fact the most perplexing; choosing which course you want to do. It would, of course, make our lives a hundred times easier if we all knew what we wanted to do as a career, but we are human and as humans we tend to make life more complicated than it needs to be. Seriously, we’re insane. I know people who have veered from midwifery to sociology to geography and ending up not going to university at all and joining the police force. It’s impossible to know what you want to do in life when you haven’t experienced life itself yet. We’re only 17 or 18, so don’t worry, it’s normal to not know at our age, just go with what you love.
Choosing which university to go to can be equally stressful. We’re told, “Pick the highest rated one”, “Choose the one best for your course”, “Apply for the one closest to home”. But the truth is, go for the one that you feel you’ll be happiest at, not what you’re parents think has the highest graduate results. Although ‘unistats’ are important, you still need to make sure the university is right for YOU. Lets face it, it’s three years of you’re life, you don’t want to spend it alone cooped up in your room watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad.
This is where open days are really useful. It feels like I’ve been all around Great Britain trying to find the right university, so trust me when I say open days are vital! After hours of waiting in traffic, dads panic attacks when the satnav sends us down a dead end and finally being dumped onto the curb to make it in time for the subject talks, it’s a relief to spot a brightly coloured polo shirt with a clip board, a map and a (very well practiced) smile saying “Welcome to our open day, how may I help you?”
After (or even before) you have decided on your course you may need to gain some work experience. This should be useful no matter what you have chosen. Helping out at a care home for a couple of weeks proves you can be part of the ‘Big Wide World Of Work’. My personal experience of finding a work placement however, didn’t go as smoothly as I’d initially anticipated. After weeks searching I finally found a placement volunteering for local hospital radio. Great, I thought, just a few weeks of making coffee and finding out the patient’s song requests… piece of cake. So imagine my surprise to find that on my first day I would be hosting my very own radio show!! It ended up to be a lot of fun though and has definitely given me an insight to what my university course may be like.
After the stress of making one of the most important decisions of your life, you now have to write what could possibly be the most important essay of your life; the personal statement! It’s a weight on your shoulders and in my experience the most difficult part of the UCAS process. For three days I sat at my computer, staring aimlessly at a blank screen hoping some words, any words, would just pop up out of nowhere. Then I discovered all the help videos on the UCAS website, alongside the hordes of personal statement guidance and advice sites.
Ask your family and friends for advice as well, chances are your friends will be going through the same thing.
On top of all these pressures, we have A levels to revise for and BTEC’s to complete, as well as a lot of turning 18 to do! What you’ve got to remember is you’re not going through this on your own, thousands of students all around the world are in the same position, feeling the same stresses and doubts as you. Just make sure you talk to people, talk to friends, family or teachers. Don’t let it eat you up and get a good balance between work, fun and just a bit of chill time.