Elisha’s blog- Freshers week

A-Level results day has been and gone and most students will now have their place at university confirmed. As it’s only a few weeks away before freshers week, I thought i’d write about my experience of the first week at university and hopefully offer some useful info on what to expect !

Once your place at university is confirmed you’ll receive a welcome pack explaining everything you need to know, and you’ll also get a timetable of what to expect in your first week. From my experience, the first week at university is great and is certainly not something that you need to worry about. In terms of what to expect from your course, although it will vary depending on what degree your doing you’ll mainly just get an overall introduction of everything you need to know- all the academic stuff won’t begin until the following week ! After enrolment, on my first day I had an introduction into the degree programme and the department and got a chance to meet all the staff. We were told everything we needed to know regarding timetables, module choices, reading lists, assessments, degree classifications etc. we then had a finance talk that afternoon. On the second day, the department arranged a day out to Liverpool- we had a trip on the ferry and then had lunch together in a Chinese restaurant. It was a great idea because we all got to know each other quite well and for those who didn’t live in the north west- they got to see some of the local sights and attractions. Later on in the week, the department staff arranged some light hearted quizzes and ice- breaker games- again a great way to get to know each other a bit better !

In terms of what to expect from the social side of things, there are lots of things to get involved with. As a mature student, I didn’t get too much involved with this side of things- mainly because of my work schedule at the time, I was unable to. However, I know that the student union arranged loads of different things. On the Wednesday during my first week, the university set up the student union fare- this is when students get the chance to sign up to a range of activities, clubs and societies.

After the first week, I really felt like i’d settled in and any concerns i’d had about university had gone. I’d already made lots of new friends and I felt ready and raring to go ! The way that the first week is arranged, is to do just that, and the university do a great job of making sure it happens. Good luck to everyone starting this September, you will love it 🙂 I wish I could do it all again !

Elisha’s blog- A-Level results and UCAS Clearing

This week is a very exciting and nerve-wrecking time for a lot of students, as A-Level results day is fast approaching… results day is this Thursday and many will be eagerly waiting for confirmation that they’ve got a place at university.

If you’ve not met the offer conditions for your chosen university, it is not the end of the world ! In some circumstances, you may still be offered a place on your chosen degree, or you may be offered an alternative course. If you find that you don’t have a university place, you may be eligible for UCAS Clearing. Clearing is a way of matching universities without students, to students without universities.

From Thursday 15th August, Edge Hill University will be able to provide instant decisions to most callers on whether you can be offered a place for this September. You’ll be able to contact the universities clearing helpline to get advice regarding your options. See our website for Clearing FAQ’s and details of how to get in touch. http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/clearing/

Good luck to you all 🙂

Elisha’s blog- Graduation celebrations

I officially graduated last week with a first class BSc Biology (Hons) degree. I had a lovely day and it was a great seeing all my course friends and lecturers again !

Graduation is when your award is presented and a day in which you get to celebrate your achievements and hard work. I was really nervous about graduation at first but the staff at Edge Hill done a great job of ensuring that everything ran smoothly. The day began with a greeting from a happy chap who gave us a lift in a little buggy from the car park (which I was very thankful for as the heels on my shoes were quite high !); I then collected my hat and robe which was hired from Wippells, and they had staff ready to pin everything in place for us. Once I was ready with the appropriate academic dress, I got some photographs taken with my family and then registered. We then had a bit of time before the ceremony to relax and enjoy the campus with friends and family. The ceremony itself lasted about an hour, which was then followed by refreshments in the Hub !

It was such a lovely day and we were very lucky that we had such nice weather 🙂 It was a great way to end an amazing three years at uni. I felt proud of my achievements and so relieved that all my hard work had paid off… but I was also a bit sad knowing that it’s all over 🙁

Here’s a pic of me on my graduation and of the Biology class of 2013.

Graduation photo    Biology graduation photo

 

Elisha’s blog- Student guide

I’ve been keeping myself busy this week working for the student recruitment team at Edge Hill University. I’ve been working as a student guide for the duration of my time here, and it’s been a great way to earn some extra cash and develop my skills.

The university recruits current students to help out with open days, applicant visit days, school visits and higher education events. They recruit every year and advertise at freshers week and on the universities internal website. I applied in my first year as a way of earning some extra money, but I ended up getting a lot more out of it than I thought… I have developed lot’s of transferable skills, met a lot of great people and i’ve really enjoyed it  !

The student recruitment team contact all the current student guides as and when work is available and it’s up to the students to express whether or not they wish to work. The work is usually allocated on a first come, first serve basis but sometimes they may allocate work depending on experience or if the event is course specific they may use students who are studying that particular course.

The work can be extremely varied; we deliver campus tours, accommodation guides, student experience presentations, deliver workshops on how to write personal statements and how to budget, we visit schools and higher education events and also help out with administration duties such as data inputting and mailing. Although you’ll be expected to help out with open days and deliver campus tours; you can take on as little or as much work as you wish and you don’t have to do everything… if you don’t feel that you have the confidence to deliver workshops and presentations to groups of people, you don’t have to !

I have developed so many transferable skills from being a student guide…. presentation skills, communication skills, organisational skills, team working skills, confidence and lot’s of useful knowledge and experience. I would definitely recommend this job, it’s helped me cope financially whilst i’ve been at university and because of the flexibility of the role, it has not interfered to much with my studies. You can take or leave the work so if you have too much work to do you can work less hours and during the summer, you can then increase your hours and earn a bit more money. I’ll definitely miss the job when my contract ends in a couple of months but at least I can look forward to what my future career might bring !

Elisha’s blog- 1st class result !

I received my final degree classification result yesterday and I was extremely pleased to find out that I got a 1st !!!! It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet as I remember thinking a few years ago that I wouldn’t even get into university. I came into higher education with no more than a grade C at GCSE science and no relevant further education qualifications, so to get a 1st is something i’m extremely proud of.

I’ve thought about how I achieved this and have put together a few hints and tips for those who are thinking about studying at degree level;

  • Choose a subject that you love- It may sound obvious but there’s lots of people who pick a subject because friends or family members have done so, because they done okay at the subject in school or perhaps because of the promise of a good salary. Although there’s nothing wrong with taking into consideration things like this, it’s more important that you choose an area that you enjoy and are passionate about. To get a good degree classification you have to study for long periods of time and to do this you need to be dedicated and motivated; this is much easier to do if you enjoy the subject.
  • Start assignments as soon as you are given them- If you are given six weeks to do an assignment do not wait until a few days before to start. I always started my work early and I think this is what gets you higher marks. I often spent a few days gathering thoughts and just thinking about how I was going to approach the assignment, jotting down ideas and familiarising myself with the learning outcomes and marking criteria. You should then allow enough time to produce a first, second and sometimes a third draft of your work. Ask your tutors to have a look over the work before you hand it in and act on the feedback that you are given. Allow time for unexpected problems such as printer ink running out, or trains or buses getting cancelled…. try to avoid waiting until the day that the assignment is due before handing it in. University can sometimes be stressful and waiting until the night before to start work will put you under a huge amount of pressure, you want to avoid this situation as much as you can because it’s not pleasant and you are unlikely to perform well when you are in this situation.
  • Do not rely on memory alone for exams- This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I made at university. Revision at school consisted of learning lots of facts and this was enough to get a decent mark at GCSE’s. University is different, learning facts doesn’t show understanding and critical thinking. For degrees, you need to demonstrate a full, overall understanding of the subject and the ability to see the bigger picture by critically analysing the knowledge in your chosen field. Practice past exam papers, do not waste time writing up notes so they look neat (I did this!), you are the only person who will see them ! Do not rely on notes from lectures alone, keep up to date with current issue in the industry, read anything and everything you can about your subject, take the advice from lecturers if they recommend reading… they know what they are talking about !
  • Take control of your own learning- University is not like school, although your tutors are there to help you, they won’t necessarily approach you about your assignments so don’t expect tutors to remind you that you have work due or ‘babysit’ you through your work. A vital part of university is to develop your skills as an adult and prepare you for working life. You need to be pro-active, professional and mature… after all this is how your boss will expect you to behave once you start a career. Ask for help and feedback when you need it, take responsibility and don’t place blame on others if you make mistakes… we all make them, the important thing is that you learn from them. Don’t see work as a burden, enjoy it and try to understand why you have been asked to do it, think about what skills you will gain from it and approach everything with a positive attitude. Get involved, ask to do volunteer work and associate yourself with the right people…. if you find that someone is a bad influence on you try to avoid them ! University is three years of your life, so try and make the best of it… you will regret it if you don’t.
  • Enjoy it- Most importably, enjoy your time at university. Achieving a good classification should not require consistently huge amounts of hard work to the point where you are feeling under immense stress. The key is to demonstrate a full understanding of most of the ideas and research techniques covered throughout your course, as well as small but significant bits of extra information required from extra reading. You should demonstrate enthusiasm and intellect, as well as ensuring that you balance university well with your personal life. Look after yourself, eat well, sleep well, socialise and take time off to relax… you will need to be organised and well disiplined in order to get this balance right. Do not get bogged with the thought of getting a 1st or any other classification, the important thing is to try your best… if you do this you will succeed !

Elisha’s blog- Budgeting at university

We’ve wrote about how to manage finances at university before but I just thought it would be useful to give a general overview of budgeting for those who are considering higher education.

It’s really important to consider what costs really are essential, understand how to manage day to day costs and start to think about the importance of budgeting at university. For school leavers, it may not be an area that you’ve given much thought but it’s an important element to consider when deciding what type of course to choose and where and how you choose to study.

The five things that undergraduate students spend the most money on whilst at university (in order) is accommodation, food, travel, social life and every day costs. All students have different budgets to live on and this will be through a mix of student loans, money from part time work and money from any savings. Students also have different priorities in terms of what they consider are essential items. Before coming to university it’s worth calculating how much money you will have per week whilst at university and then working out how much you think you will spend. This may help you decide whether or not to live at home or at university, how many hours you want to work (if any) and how much time you are then able to commit to your course. This may seem like an obvious suggestion but students will often calculate their budget per term or per year and then not give much thought into weekly or monthly costs; this often leads to overspending and under budgeting because they have not took into account that party that their friends persuaded them to go to, or the library fine that they forgot to pay !!!

Budgeting is actually really easy to do as long as you are realistic and keep on top of things 🙂

Elisha’s blog- Personal statement

For those of you who are considering university next year, it’s a good time to start thinking about your personal statement. The UCAS application deadlines for most undergraduate degree programmes is January and it will come around very quickly!

A personal statement is your opportunity to tell universities why they should select you so it’s your chance to stand out from the crowd. So, what should you include in your personal statement?? Here’s just a few hints and tips of some of the key areas….

  • Motivation: Why you want to go to university, why you’ve chosen the course, the reason why the subject interests you, your commitment to the course, career goals and ambitions.
  • Relevant experience: Work experience placements, voluntary work, part- time job, making references to transferable skills that you’ve gained.
  • Outside interests: Hobbies, interests, social activities that demonstrate your skills and abilities, other qualifications or training such as Duke of Edinburgh Award or First Aid.
  • Academic capability: How your previous/ current studies relate to the course you’ve chosen your academic strengths, specific topics you enjoy, who/ what has influenced you academically.
  • Personal skills and attributes: Personal strengths and qualities, attributes that make you unique, special or interesting.

A personal statement should be about a side of A4 in length so deciding what to include can be a challenge… the key word to remember is relevance. There’s no point in talking about your experience if you do not make reference to how it relates to the course you are applying for, so you need to think about the skills that you’ve gained from this. It might be that you think that you’d struggle to fill a side of A4 and you have very little experience but you’d be surprised how that part – time job in your local shop can help… most jobs require you to have good communication, team working and time management skills so don’t undersell yourself !

Good luck everyone 🙂

Elisha’s blog- Summer holidays

One of the perks of being a student is the long summer break… the summer term ends this Friday and the next academic year doesn’t start again now until September ! Deciding how’s best to fill your time in the summer can sometimes be a challenge. This will be my last summer as a full time student and it’s made me reflect on how i’ve spent my time.

During my first year summer I was able to secure a temporary full time office job. This was a great way to earn some extra cash and help with my finances for the following academic year. I had spent my first year working a lot and I really struggled to keep on top of things so I decided that I was going to try and reduce my working hours for the rest of my degree programme. Working in the summer meant that I was able to save up some money to help me through the next academic year and free up more time for studying. It also helped me develop some transferable skills that will come in handy when applying for future posts !

By the time my second year summer came around I was in a much better financial situation, so I was able to work part time and focus on my degree too. I spent the vast majority of my time completing my third year dissertation but I also carried out some volunteer work and began preparing for a few other third year modules. I knew that if I got a head start on things that it would put me in a much better position once the academic year began. I was so glad I did this because the last year is certainly the most difficult but because i’d put the extra time in throughout the summer, I was in a much better position. I had developed more transferable skills and my assessment marks improved quite a lot.

My plans for this summer are to continue working part time and to do some more volunteer work; but i’ve been spending most of my time applying for postgraduate positions so fingers crossed i’ll get something soon !

It is important to spend some time relaxing over the summer break, after all that’s what it’s for… however I also think it’s important to keep busy wether it’s working or getting a head start on assignments. It keeps you used to a routine and gives you something to focus on so it’s not too much of a shock to the system when you go back 😉 it’s also a good opportunity to get some skills and experience and develop working relationships with people who you can approach for references in the future…very useful when applying for posts after uni !

Elisha’s blog- It’s never too late….

Last week, the university held a drop in session for those interested in enrolling onto a Fastrack course. The Fastrack course is a seven- week course aimed at students who want to enhance their qualifications and experience to prepare them for undergraduate study. It’s a great way for students who’ve been away from education for a while, to develop university- level study skills and subject knowledge. Successful completion of the course leads to guaranteed entry onto a range of different degree programmes.

I had an eight year gap between school and university and I think that the Fastrack is a great idea ! I, like most mature students had lots of concerns before coming to university; I was worried that I wasn’t academically capable and that I’d be unable to keep up with the younger students. I think a course like the Fastrack would have increased my confidence and helped develop a lot of the study skills I found I lacked in my first year. Despite this, I am really glad I came to university…. it really is never too late!

Visit our website for more information about the Fastrack course

http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/news/2013/05/never-too-late-to-study-for-a-degree/ 

Elisha’s blog- it’s the end of an era !

Wednesday was officially the last ever session of my entire Biology degree ! I know i’ve said this before… but I cannot believe how quick it’s gone. I handed in my last two pieces of work the week before, and then the Department Head arranged a short celebratory leaving session for us on Wednesday. We reflected on what we have achieved in the last three years, what we have to look forward to in the future and we ended with some lunch and champagne… it was a great way to end the degree ! We also arranged a collection between the students and thanked the staff for their support with some gifts 🙂

Even though it’s not yet been a week since I finished, I am already starting to miss it ! It’s really strange not having any work to do or lectures to go to, and I don’t think I quite appreciated how much i’ve enjoyed my time at Edge Hill until now…. but at least I can  start to focus on what the future might bring !

Results day for me is on the 28th June and then I have graduation to look forward to on the 17th July. In the meantime, I will be focusing on finding a job… wish me luck !