It can be really complicated to know where to start when looking at applying to Higher Education. There’s over 160 universities in the UK which can seem a lot to choose from, especially when you consider that there are over 52,000 courses available to study! This does mean that whatever you’re interested in, there’s more than likely a course for you.
When applying to university, you can apply for a maximum of 5 different institutions. Applications are made through UCAS and you have to list your 5 choices and the course you are interested in studying there, as well as writing a Personal Statement (We’ll talk about that more this week) that explains why you want to study the course you have chosen. Typically, you need to choose 5 similar courses so your Personal Statement doesn’t vary wildly from Medicine to Business Studies for example. Even though you’ve chosen your universities and applied, there is still time to change your mind if you have a total change of heart so don’t overthink it too much!
There are a few easy ways you can start to narrow your choices down. You might know what career you want in the future and this means you can work backwards; if you know you want to be a Vet, then you’ll study Veterinary Science. Similarly, if you’re incredible passionate about a subject you already study or enjoy, then that’s a great option for university!
There are other factors you can consider to help you choose between universities such as how they assess their courses or whether it’s a campus based university or city based. Some universities may assess their courses using mostly exams, whereas some will use assignments or a combination of the two in different amounts. If you know one of these methods is better than the other for you, choose a university that uses that assessment. At campus-based universities, you will typically find all the buildings and accommodation clustered on a central campus, whereas city universities may have different buildings and facilities spread across the city so it’s totally down to personal preference for what you want.
A really beneficial way of narrowing down your choices is to attend Open Days. In the current environment most universities are running Virtual Open Days which allow you the chance to virtually tour the campus, chat with current students and even some of the staff from the courses you are interested in. Virtual Open Days are also easier to attend since no travel is required meaning you can attend more, narrow down your options, and then look out for on-campus events to allow you to tour your favourite options in person.
Tick the Box on UCAS
When you fill in your UCAS application form, it’s really important you Tick the Box that says you are a Care Leaver. Ticking the Box simply lets the people processing your application know that you are entitled to additional support should you want it. It doesn’t mean you will be discriminated against, it just enables universities to see that you may want or need some additional support at some point through your studies. It also allows the universities you apply to, to let you know what there additional support offer is in advance of you choosing between the 5 you apply to. This may impact your choice, if one university offers a particularly good support package that you feel you would benefit from.
Student Finance and Bursaries
Student Finance is available to cover Tuition Fees for university. It is not means tested and as long as you are eligible the fees for your course will be covered by your Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan. You can also apply for a Maintenance Loan that is means tested and dependent upon household income to decide the amount that you will receive. As Care Leavers are typically classed as independent students it will be based on you as an individual and you are likely to receive the maximum amount.
There is also a variety of bursaries available. Some are available for Care Leavers, whereas some are available for specific subjects or sporting talent. You need to apply for some bursaries but not all so check what is available at the universities you are interested in and how you access them. Our partner institutions offer a range of financial support including Care Leaver bursaries and access to hardship funding if your circumstances change; they also offer additional support to Care Leavers which can be found in our ‘Support at University’ post.