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Why go to University?

1: To improve career prospects Gaining a degree can significantly increase and improve your son or daughters career prospects. They will not only have a wider variety of career options to choose from once they have a degree but they are likely to progress much faster up the career ladder. Whilst it would be misleading to claim that a degree guarantees employment, an increasing number of organisations require people to hold degrees before applying. "I'm pleased to be involved with Cardiff, not least because my job as controller of BBC Wales has significant overlaps with higher education. The BBC is the biggest employer in the creative industries in Wales. We want the best, brightest and most able employees and we look to places like Cardiff University to provide them." Menna Richards, Controller, BBC Wales 2: To pursue a vocation Students often choose to study at Higher Education Level to further an interest in a particular subject, or in a particular vocation. Some careers, such as those in medicine, nursing, architecture, law and pharmacy, cannot be practised without a particular vocational degree. 3: To earn a larger salary Statistics show that graduates earn significantly more than those without Higher Education qualifications. As a graduate, your son or daughters options will be wider and theyll find it easier to get into employment and to stay in employment. 4: To develop employable skills A degree will not only give students in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject, but will also make them more employable, developing skills such as communication, presentation, problem-solving and teamwork. 5: To build self-confidence, independence & responsibility University will also help students to build their self-confidence and independence, and to develop their ability to stand on their own two feet. They will have the opportunity to pursue different interests through the Students Union and will make new friends from different countries and backgrounds. 6: To Study a subject which is enjoyed Students often choose to study a subject because they have enjoyed it at school or college. Finding out more about something that is enjoyable will show commitment and will often produce excellent results for the students. The benefits of a degree It might be a personal challenge to gain a degree qualification An opportunity to take the subject you enjoy as far as you can and be taught by leading experts in your field of interest Essential preparation for a particular career Some jobs require a degree level qualification (for example nursing, teaching or working as a lawyer) It might give you some time to decide what

you want to do You will be in demand, more employers are demanding graduates According to the Government, by 2010 50% of all jobs will require someone educated to degree level It teaches you Transferable Skills such as: - Interpersonal skills - Verbal and written communication skills - Presentation skills - Organisational and time management skills - Commitment - Ability to use initiative Useful websites UCAS www.ucas.com Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk www.direct.gov.uk/en/educationandlearning/ Why Gouniversityandhighereducation/ index.htm Connexions www.connexionsdirect.com Aimhigher www.aimhigher.ac.uk How is university different? Greater flexibility and choice - You choose what and where you want to study - Your degree might offer a wide choice of topics - Like A levels most degree programmes are modular. This means that you can tailor-make your degree to suit your interests and strengths - Free choice/wild-card modules some degree programmes give you the choice of studying subjects unconnected to your main degree discipine eg: Languages, Computing - Flexible assessment Modules can be assessed through a variety of methods, 100% exams, 100% coursework or a mixture of both Increased responsibility, you are accountable to yourself no one is telling you how or when to work Study with experts Fantastic learning resources Great study support networks and facilities if you need them What you can expect to earn According to the Prospects website the average yearly earnings of a 21 35 year

old graduate is 26,364 per year in the UK According to the Prospects website the average yearly earnings of a 21 35 year old non-graduate is 19,344 per year in the UK It is estimated that over a lifetime the average graduate would have earned almost 50% more than the average non-graduate Student life Most university graduates look upon university as being the best 3 or 4 years of their lives! The opportunities you will get are unique Gives you amazing independence and freedom You have the chance to become who you want to be You will experience a fantastic social life as well as academic life - Meet people from all over the world - Sports clubs and societies to join or set up - The chance to live away from home

What Factors should I consider when choosing a course?


What qualifications do I need? Whichever undergraduate programme you choose, you will normally be expected to have a minimum grade in GCSE Mathematics and English, or equivalent. Some courses require you to have at least a C in Mathematics, so make sure you have this under your belt before you make any more decisions. It's also important to check you have chosen the correct AS and A2 levels for any degree you are considering, in order to meet any essential requirements set by the university or college providing the course. For example, all Medicine courses require either AS or A2 in either Biology or Chemistry (sometimes both); all Mathematics courses require a full A level in the subject, as well as Further Mathematics; Engineering courses often require an A2 in Physics or Mathematics, or both; other science degrees such as Biology and Psychology require you to have studied the subject to A2 level. So make sure you do your research thoroughly and prevent cutting yourself off to degree options you think you might be interested in. However, if the courses you are considering do not require you to study any particular A level subjects, think carefully about how the subjects you take could improve your chances of being accepted on to the degree programme. For example, if you wish to do a degree in Media Studies, you will stand out as a stronger candidate if you take IT along with a couple of creative subjects such as English and Art, rather than taking Maths and science subjects. For further help, see our choosing your A levels section. Think about how work experience and other activities outside of your studies may contribute to your application. Some university admissions tutors are looking for proof of some practical, hands on experience of their subject, and not just what you can do academically.

If you do not have standard qualifications, for example if you are a mature or international student, contact the universities or colleges you are considering applying to, as they will be able to offer you further advice. What will I learn? Read all the details about the course in the university prospectus. This doesnt mean just skimming the summary you need to look at what the module options are and their content, as these can vary significantly. Although a particular course may have the same or similar title at two different universities, the content can vary a great deal. Each course may place emphasis on different areas of the subject, so find out exactly what you'll be learning. You may also find it useful to make a list of your academic strengths and weaknesses, so you can see which courses you think you will be better at and enjoy more. How will I be taught? The teaching style of the course is important, as some courses will consist of more practical work, essay assignments and group tasks than examinations. If you take this into account, you can play to your strengths and ensure youve chosen the course that is best for you. Think about previous experiences do you achieve better marks in essays and exams? If yes, you may want to choose a course that is more exam-based. Look at the weighting of marks, too you may not want to take a course that allocates a majority of the total marks to coursework, and then have to do lots of revision for an exam at the end of the year that doesn't carry a significant amount of marks. Does it include a work experience placement? Some courses include a period of work experience this is normally for a year between the second and third year of your degree, though can vary slightly depending on the subject and the university you are attending. A work experience placement will be very useful if you only have limited experience of the field you want to go into, or no experience at all, as it will provide you with invaluable skills employers will look for when you start applying for jobs. Working for a year can also be a welcome break from all the stresses of studying for your degree and give you an insight into what the real world will be like when youve graduated. It can also help you develop important skills such as communication, team work and problem solving, as well as being an opportunity to meet new people and make some friends. You dont have to work somewhere in the UK either some courses offer students the chance to take a job at a company abroad. This would allow you to experience a different culture, language, and possibly even a different climate! How many modules can I choose from? Usually your first year modules will be compulsory, but you should get a choice of modules in your second and third years.

This allows you to study the particular areas of your subject that you find most interesting. For example, if you are taking a biology degree, you may want to choose modules that cover cellular topics, such as immunology and biochemistry, rather than modules that focus on nature and the environment. You may also want to pick modules that go into more depth on a certain subject, or if you prefer, ones that give more of a general overview of a topic. Check there is a wide choice of modules and that the topics you are keen on are included in the range. You'll be disappointed if you get to choosing your modules for the final 2 years and discover you can't learn about the topics you wanted to. Can I change my course once Ive started it? Although you may have pretty much decided on a course based on the details of the content and the nature of the work involved, you might want to consider whether you are able to change your course after youve started it. Most universities will let you change your degree as long as its within the first 4 to 6 weeks or so. This is an invaluable option if you havent yet decided which career path to follow. Making a final decision If you take these factors into account when choosing which degree to undertake, hopefully you will find it easier to make the right decision and youll be happy with your choice once youve started your course. Its important to try and pick the right course first time, otherwise you could end up wasting thousands of pounds on a degree that you wont even use in your career once youve graduated. If you already have a career path in mind, such as IT, journalism or medicine, then this should make your decision much easier. However, if youre still undecided, its probably worth taking a subject that you enjoy doing and/or are quite good at. At least this way you will be enthusiastic about it and feel like you can stick with it until the end. You can also keep your options more open by taking a joint degree (2 subjects), e.g. Economics and Maths, History and Business Studies. Some combinations will not be available at all universities you are thinking of applying to, so make sure to do your research beforehand. Remember that some professions dont require a subject specific degree, such as law, business, media and IT.

Gap years - Pros and cons


Taking a gap year is all about the experience you get and the benefits you gain. It will change your life, to put it simply. PROS: You may gain exposure to cultures you have not experienced before or have the chance to serve others less privileged than you. Most gap year students develop maturity, learn self-reliance and improve their money management. Enhanced social skills and team working ability inevitably come from meeting new people. CONS: Disadvantages come with a badly planned gap year. You will also enjoy a much more beneficial experience if you follow all the health and safety advice available, particularly when travelling to remote countries.

Pros You may not know what to do after college, so having a year to think about it and explore other possibilities can be a real eye-opener. 2. Gap Years give you the chance to gain in confidence, maturity and responsibility. All of these will be looked on favourably by Universities and employers. 3. You get the chance to spend a year doing something worthwhile, not to mention explore a good chunk of the world; as long as you put your mind to it and organise it in time! Cons 1. You will start university a year behind your friends, but then age doesnt matter at university, unlike school. 2. Err, we think thats it. 3. Oh, some universities want you to go straight into higher education, because your knowledge needs to be spot-on from the start. For instance, if you're going to do maths, it's amazing how much you can forget in a year - which may leave you struggling. 1.

Making the choice for your postgraduate programme and institution


When you have a list of the possible postgraduate programmes available you can move to the second phase of choosing, which involves a careful comparison of the programmes and the universities. So, what factors should you consider in choosing? Choosing a university and postgraduate programme is very much an individual decision, and will depend on a wide range of factors that you might want to take into account. Broadly, though, the factors to consider can be divided into two groups: the academic factors, relating to the programme and the university, and the personal factors, relating to what is important in your own life and experiences while you are in the UK. Visit llmstudy.com for information and advice on choosing your LLM programme. Visit StudyBusinessMasters.com for information and advice on choosing your business-related programme. Academic factors The main academic factors relate to the content and organisation of the programme and its quality. If you are looking for a Masters degree then you will need to decide whether you want to do a general programme in your subject, which will probably allow you to take some specialist topics of particular interest, or whether you want a programme that is highly specialised. This will determine whether there is a wide or narrow choice of programmes open to you. If you are looking for a Doctoral programme the same is true but the choice is likely to be quite narrow because the academic staff with expertise in your specialist area who can supervise your research may be found in only a small number of universities. Whether there are large numbers of programmes in your field or only one or two, you will want to identify which is the best. But best is a difficult idea, for it depends on how you measure it. All this means that you have to decide what makes a programme best for you. The list below shows some of the academic factors that might be important in deciding which programme is best: The programme is in one of the most prestigious universities. The programme is taught by well-known researchers. The programme has a high reputation for the quality of teaching.

There is a good ratio of staff to students. The programme has excellent teaching resources (e.g. computers, workshops). The programme has access to an excellent library. Graduates from the programme mostly get excellent jobs afterwards. The programme attracts large numbers of students. The programme has many specialist options within it. In addition, for a Doctoral programme you might want to add the following to the list: All students have their own desk and computer. There are several research students each year working in your particular field. The research training programme has good ratings and a strong reputation. The department has a number of students with prestigious scholarships, indicating it is highly regarded for research training. Personal and social factors These are the factors that are much more personal, and depend on how you want to live your life and spend your time while you are a postgraduate student. It includes factors to do with housing, social life, cultural life in the university and the nature and character of the town or city that the university is in. The following is a list of some of these factors: Does the university have accommodation in university residences available for international postgraduate students? Does it provide accommodation for students who have their families with them? How close to the university will you be able to live? Does the university have a large community of international students? Does it have a large community of students of your own nationality/faith? Does the university and the department have good social facilities and arrangements for postgraduate students, e.g. common rooms, eating facilities, clubs and societies? Does the university have specialist facilities for your preferred cultural needs (e.g. a Muslim prayer room)? Do you want to live in a large city, a smaller city or a smaller town or rural area? Do you want to live in or close to London? Do you want to live in a historic city or a modern or industrial city? Do you want to live with good access to attractive countryside and/or the coast? Will the cost of living in a particular town or city be relatively high or low? Of course, although you can get the factual answers to many of these questions from prospectuses, handbooks and websites, bear in mind that what often makes a place a happy one is the chance set of friendships that you will make and the general feel and comfort of the place. A university that answers yes to every one of your questions may still not be the best place to go and often students who have by chance gone to a university that at first sight did not seem to meet many of their criteria have a wonderful experience as a student. To get the full picture it is always worth asking people you know wherever you are in the world you will find people who have attended particular universities, and many universities have alumni societies in other countries who can arrange for you to meet and talk with a former student. Details will be on their website or in their prospectus. Deciding on a University As with making a decision on the course, there are a number of factors that need to be considered before choosing the University that you wish to attend. Supporting Materials / Facilities When considering which University, it is important that you consider things such as:

Are you prepared to study away from home and also how far are you prepared to travel to University Two six month placements one in the second year and one in the third year. Is the course you wish to pursue widely available or does it cover a niche area Are there specific facilities that you require, such as gym, car parking etc., technical resources What are your expected grades for your A-Levels, Advanced GNVQs etc. How large or small is the University and how many students study there Is the University located in a large city or in a rural area These are some of the aspects that need to be thought about. Each individual student will have different requirements of their potential University and so it is important to spend some time on the decision. University League Tables Before deciding on a University, also consider the University rating in the Guardian Newspaper League Tables. These are useful making choices between universities because they explain how well that University is doing in comparison to others. However, please note that these do not give information at course and department level. It is also important to remember that attending a University at the top of the league table does not imply that higher grades will be achieved. This will be the responsibility of the student studying at the University. A high placing does mean that generally facilities and grades are above the average compared to other Universities. This can also be important in terms of your career as some blue-chip companies have a preference of students from some specific Universities. Careers Service Centre Many universities offer careers advice centres, and although you may not consider this important at the moment, they can be invaluable when you are looking for a work placement or once you have graduated. Social Life Social aspects of University life are very important and elements such as location, facilities and services play a significant role in your time there. The range of social, sports and cultural activities provided by the University need to match you requirements especially if you are living away from home. Although you are at University to study, the most effective students know how to balance their social life well, to ensure that they enjoy their time as well. The cost of living (i.e. rent, food, drink and socialising) can be greater in London and other large cities and this may impact your available budget significantly. Friends Although this factor may vary in importance to you, there are many people that let their friend's choice of University impact their decision. This can be of benefit as it helps provide companionship and security, especially in the first few months of starting. However, you may find that in some instances this may make you reluctant to make new friends. This is certainly a missed opportunity to get to know new people, especially as you will be studying with them for up to three years. You may also find that friends studying a different course and possibly the same one have widely varying timetables which can affect how much time you have available to spend together. To Summarise Having considered the above factors, unless you have already decided that you would like to go to a specific University, there are a variety of others that you can choose to attend across the UK.

There is no single definitive characteristic that you can use to identify if a university is right for you. This is because everyone looks for something different from University and every University offers something unique. Having decided the course that you would like to undertake will make it easier to narrow down the potential Universities that will need to apply to. Please note that certain courses may be offered by only some Universities. If however, you have not decided on a course, you need to consider factors such as social environment, status of university, quality of lecturers, location, facilities, etc to reduce the list to some specific locations, from which you can select the right one for you. Many Universities offer Open Days which enables you to visit them for the day and get a tour from one of the students who may be able to provide you with more detailed information about the University site. You can also call Universities to obtain a prospectus, which is like a brochure describing the facilities and courses available at the University. Additional Information Additional information and support can be provided by the Student Services Staff in universities and colleges. They will also assist with any further questions you may have. Note: If you think that you have made the wrong decision before you have started the course or once you are a few weeks into the course, you will find that most Universities will be flexible and will allow you to change your mind and start another course. In these instances it is worth speaking to either your Course Tutor or your Student Careers Centre.