Foundation Years: Taking the Road Less Traveled

Many courses may have foundation years to allow disadvantaged students’ to get onto the course. They have lower entry criteria and allow people who didn’t have as many opportunities as other students may have to get onto their course.

Grades Don’t Reflect Ability

This cannot be said enough. If you aren’t able to get the grades direct entry asks for, don’t think it means you aren’t capable. You’re assessed differently at University than at college, especially if you’re doing A Levels that are 100% exams. Universities recognise this, and offers a Foundation Year.

More Time to Yourself

Foundation Years are full-time courses but have fewer contact hours than the direct entry courses. While I did a lot of independent study outside of the three day week, I naturally had more spare time than I would’ve if I did direct entry.

This year, I’ve learnt how to be independent and form friendships without the pressure of the first year timetable. I’ve learnt a lot of life skills this year, so next month I won’t need to worry about learning how to cook when I’m in lessons five days a week.

There’s no Race in Life

If you take a Foundation Year or gap years, you’ll be getting experience direct entry students mightn’t have. You can use the spare time to travel, to reflect on yourself, or learn skills you mightn’t have time for in the full course.

If 18 year old me envisioned himself as a doctor 10 years later, I’d have so many routes. I could do another degree and then graduate entry Medicine, take 4 gap years and then Medicine with a Foundation Year, etc.

There were so many opportunities for me to complete my ten year plan. And even if people’s plans took twenty years, how would that be a bad thing for anyone?

Closing Words

A lot of people told me to ‘aim high’ and avoid ‘BBB’ for Foundation Year Medicine, and aim for AAA for direct entry, even though a Foundation Year would be better for me. There’s a stigma around Foundation Years that need to be challenged.

-Tony

Note-Taking: Should You Ditch Paper for a PC?

I am faster at typing than writing, so school lessons were always a pain when I didn’t have access to a laptop. In lessons, I always asked my classmates, “what was the last sentence on that slide?”. I would then go home and waste time typing up my notes thinking it was ‘revision’; truthfully I was wasting time, mindlessly typing.
In University, electronics were welcomed, and this changed how I studied in a welcome way. In this blog, I’ll discuss why this change was for the best for me.

Lighter Load

I did bring some stationery to draw quick diagrams I couldn’t do on my laptop, but as I had all my notes a click away, I didn’t need to bring big ringbinders to lessons. This was convenient for me.
I recommend getting digital helpful college notes, opposed to bring wads of them to Uni. You can easily search the documents for key words, and it’s less to pack!

Saving Money

If you use a laptop/tablet, you’ll be spending less money on paper and stationery. It mightn’t seem like much, but every penny counts!

Software for Studying

You can follow the slides during the lecture instead of scribbling them down quickly, and you can write down what the tutor says in the notes section under the slides in PowerPoint.

Through Disabled Students’ Allowance, I was able to get funding for programs and a laptop for my studies. If you’re eligible for DSA, I encourage you to consider it. The software (Dragon and Sonocent) can be really pricey if you aren’t, though.

Alternatives

Not everyone owns a laptop/tablet, but you can loan laptops from the Catalyst to bring to lessons. Just upload the document to a cloud you can access afterwards and you’re set! I would also recommend this if you get to campus and realise you’ve forgotten pens and paper.

Closing Words

Truthfully, some people just learn better with pen and paper. Some people write faster than they type. Some people prefer learning from paper than a screen. University is all about finding what way you study best, which was something I didn’t really get to do in school.

-Tony

How Did I Manage My Money at Uni?

In March I did a similar post, however that was about tips on how to save money, not how to manage it. This blog will focus on how to make the most of every penny.

I used a spreadsheet… for four weeks…

I’m not opening strong here. I spent a lot of time colour-coding a spreadsheet, with goals in the corner. “Try to save £20 a week,” “don’t go into savings,” I wrote. I abandoned the spreadsheet after a month and I don’t regret it. After a day of lessons, do I really want to start plugging numbers into the computer? If you enjoy this, I recommend it! However a banking app was more than enough for me to keep an eye on money.

I was careful

It really was that simple for me. I had a good loan and my second flat rent (choosing a cheaper accommodation is always an idea; Back Halls is £2,400 for the academic year!) was cheap, so I had enough to splurge if I chose to. However, I pinched pennies by shopping at Aldi and not ordering takeaways. I was doing a food shop for as cheap as £12 (investing in non-perishables like pasta and rice goes a long way!) and even in my most expensive accommodation, that still saved me around £28 per week (by dividing my loan after rent by the 40 week contract). There was the launderette, which was less than £3. By using a drying rack, I was able to save money on the dryers in the launderette.

What could I have done differently?

With differing rent and loans, this story doesn’t apply to everyone. My friends recommend splitting a weekly food shop (can be cost effective), as well as sharing a washing machine with a friend.

Closing words

Money is a big worry for a lot of people when it comes to University. However, our accommodation is great value for price and there are ways to be thrifty. If you do find yourself struggling financially, our University does have teams to support you. Rest assured, money isn’t as big of a barrier for Uni students as you might think.

-Tony

Why I Love Having a Small Class Size

Unlike a lot of medical schools, our medical school has thirty places in each year group (and fifteen for the Foundation Year). At any other medical school, I’d be sat in lecture theatres with 300+ other students. There’s nothing wrong with that structure, but I prefer being in a class of fifteen-thirty for reasons I’ll explain in this post.

It Feels More Like a Community

All of our class did Secret Santa, and all our tutors know our names and we know theirs. It feels like we are individuals instead of a face in 500, and therefore are more recognised.

Teaching

The support available to us is fantastic (details coming in a later blog!), however it feels like there’s naturally more support thanks to the smaller class size. The teaching has been amazing, however we could ask to have lessons delivered in a different way (we are also encouraged to provide feedback so we can all effectively learn). It is easier to have voices heard in a crowd of thirty than a full lecture theatre.

We’ll Also Work in Larger Groups

Our medical school values the Multi-disciplinary team, and with EHU having many health courses, there’s plans to work alongside other health students. In this way, we get to meet new people and get a taste of what our future will be like, working with other professions.

Being in a Classroom

We’re too small of a class to be in a full lecture theatre. This is great, as I feel like it’s easier to engage when a tutor is nearby. Lessons feel more interactive, and we can ask and answer questions more easily (if we wish). I would feel silly if I had a question and I interrupted a full lecture theatre by raising my hand. A classroom feels more versatile too, for group work, discussions, and breaks.

Closing Words

I’ve only ever been in a large group of (future) medics at events, so I truthfully can’t compare the experience. However, I really value our medical school setting, and I would never change that. With a Medical Society opening up, I’m really excited for what opportunities lie ahead for us.

-Tony

Freshers – Flu, Fun, and Friendships

Freshers, formally known as ‘Welcome Week’, is a great time to settle into Uni. I had a fantastic experience, and as someone living on campus and becoming a Fresher again in the next academic year, I thought it might be fun (and helpful!) to share my experience with Freshers.

Fun

With a lot of parties and societies, Freshers can feel like American films set in college (although there’s so much more for those who don’t drink/like big groups of people). I recommend you sign up to events/societies! (My first society experience was the Marvel Society on the second night. They ran an escape room, which was great! Societies always have interesting and unique activities.) Besides, you’ll want to visit the fair for the free competitions and food.

Note: none of the above are confirmed to go ahead due to lockdown. I’ll update this blog if/when they’re announced, but Edge Hill and the SU’s social media will also update us!

My flatmates and I stayed in for the week. I can’t drink, but playing card games on the first night was a fun way to break the ice.

Friendships

As well as flatmates, I also had course Induction. They introduced us to our personal academic tutors, staff, and I met my coursemates. We all got along straight away! When I moved in on the Sunday, I was dreading having a‘ lesson’ the next day; I just wanted non-stop fun! However, the two days of induction made me so excited to get stuck in, so oddly the one part of Freshers I was against the most became one of my favourite parts! I made so many friends in Freshers, and more as time passed.

Flu

It’s true; Freshers Flu is a thing. Many students, like me, felt poorly for 3 weeks. I got messages off my flatmates at 3am asking if I needed water because they heard my coughing, which was sweet of them. I had so much fun in Freshers, despite feeling unwell.

Closing Words

While my/our Freshers experience will be different due to lockdown, I’m looking forward to it. I’m very much a ‘home’ person but all the excitement helped me settle nearly straight away!

-Tony

My Placement Experience

Our Foundation Year in Medicine at Edge Hill University is unique in that we have two weeks of placement in the academic year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I was unable to complete my placement in May. However, I did enjoy my placement in mid-December 2019. I’ll be talking about my experience with placement in this blog.

Preparing

To prepare for placement, our class learnt how to effectively wash our hands, learn CPR, and learning skills we may need on placement (things such as safeguarding, but such issues didn’t arise). This took around a week, allowing us to best prepare. We also find out our location in advance, to organise transport. Our Medical School will choose a placement that’s most accessible to you, in either Lancashire or Ormskirk. A friend gave us a lift to mine and another friend’s placement in the morning, and I had taxis back to University in the evening.

The Support

Our Medical School, as well as I, communicated with my placement providers about my health conditions. We also got a card from our placement providers saying “IMSAFE”, another great example of our medical school looking after out wellbeing.

the “I’M SAFE” card we got for placement. We’re reminded to look after ourselves all throughout our studies!
The Week

9am-5pm Monday-Friday at a GP surgery was when we were in placement. We did so much: observe ultrasounds, GP/ANP appointments, the prescribing line, and working on reception. There, we observed and learnt so much, and all the staff were so lovely and welcoming. I really enjoyed being on the reception and placement helped me understand how a Multi-disciplinary team works together (as we learnt in lesson).

The experience made the idea of working in community more interesting. This is because there’s so many people to meet, conditions to understand, and you’ll see patients multiple times.

Closing Words

The placement, while short, taught me so much. I’m reminded of why I chose Medicine in the first place with experiences like placement. I look forward to more placements, and what I can learn from them. It’s so exciting to see where I’ll be in five years, but I am also excited to get back to University!

-Tony

Can I Go To University?

There are some stereotypes about University students which can be harmful. A lot of films and TV shows all University students as the same person, but this isn’t the case. In this blog, I’ll challenge any preconceptions about University students.

“Am I not too old?”

Media overrepresents the young students of University, and never really represents mature students. Rest assured, there’s plenty of mature students of all ages! No matter your age, occupation, or if you’re parent, you’ll be able to study any course you want (assuming you’ve got the qualifications/can use an access programme to get onto the course).

“Can I go to University if I’m disabled?”

II have a lot of support on both my course and by the University’s Inclusion team in ways I couldn’t imagine when it comes to my disabilities. I was worried about being a disabled student, but when I arrived I realised I wasn’t alone, and even if I was, I had all the support I could ever need and more. In Sixth Form, I only had Extra Time, no support in lessons. This isn’t the case at University! I’ve had support for placement and all my tutors understand and respect my health conditions. Your living situation and wellbeing will be covered by our Inclusion team, too.

“Is there any point if I don’t drink?”

Of course! I know a lot of people, including me, who have had some of the best times of their life sober while at University. Everyone in the movies seem to drink alcohol, but in reality, there’s a lot of students who don’t drink. You’re bound to find non-drinking buddies on your course and at societies, and there’s even ‘dry socials’ in Freshers week to get involved in!

Closing Words

When considering University, please ask yourself, “is University right for me?”, not “am I right for University?” You absolutely are! Here at University, you’re a part of a community – one that’s diverse, and the people you’re surrounded by won’t judge you if you step outside what a lot of people consider the ‘typical’ University student. We’re all here for the same reason after all, to have a good time and get an education.

-Tony

To the Future Medics

I am writing this blog as if I am writing to my seventeen year old self. I felt like I was always surrounded by people who were one step ahead, and I’m sure this is a common feeling to many. Therefore, I hope this blog resonates with you.

Don’t Compare Yourself

Medicine is competitive, but it’s important to focus on yourself. Some people are fortunate enough to have weeks of work experience, whereas you may have one week, or only volunteering experience. That’s okay, it’s about what you learn in those environments. You can learn just as much in one week as another can learn in a month. Focus on what you learnt, not what your fellow applicants might’ve learnt.

Struggling is Okay

If you’re struggling in Sixth Form, that doesn’t mean you’re not fit for Medicine. Struggling is human, it’s something I’m learning to accept even now. Your capabilities as a medic are not defined by how you handle a heavy workload, no matter your age. You’ll always be supported by peers, family, and friends. Medicine is demanding, but our support network grows as we progress and we become more able to cope.

Keep Trying

I’ve mentioned this in previous entries, but it’s important. You may get no offers in Year 13, you may not get the grades you need, and you mightn’t get a place through Clearing. That’s okay, Medicine is competitive, and even the best applicants miss out. Your age isn’t a factor, and you may even benefit in ways you wouldn’t think in taking gap years/alternative routes. I encourage you to read this document if you were unlucky the first time.

Closing Words

I remember how I felt early in Sixth Form. While at a Medicine event in early Year 12, I was one of the only people out of near 100 who didn’t have work experience, which was discouraging. My two weeks work experience wasn’t as clinical as others, but that didn’t matter, because I learnt so much from it. While there was a lot of waiting and luck in my journey to Medical school, it was all worth it.

-Tony

What Can You Do to Prepare for University Today?

If you accepted your offer to study here before the 31st May, you should have your room offer. I had my room confirmed the other day and I was excited! When I was coming to University, I received my room offer a few weeks before starting my course, so having my room offer months in advance is exciting. But what can we do with all this pre-University buzz? I’ll be sharing what I’m doing in this blog.

Join Social Media Groups

If you’re comfortable with social media, I encourage you to join groups for your halls and course. Your email confirming your accommodation will have a link to all the Facebook groups for accommodation. This can be a great way to meet your flatmates months in advance and break the ice! I didn’t do this last year and I settled in easily, so don’t worry if this isn’t something you’re comfortable with.

Talk to Current Students

You’re likely to come across current students in social media groups. However if you don’t use social media, student representatives (such as myself) are free to talk to on our website! Drop us a message with any questions you may have, whether it be our Uni life, accommodation, courses, or anything else. Remember that you’re also free to comment on our blogs with any questions you might have!

Learn Some Skills

I was pretty dependent this time last year, however my mum began teaching me how to cook. I ended up experimenting more with recipes at University and improving that way, but I recommend that you consider cooking this summer. Besides being an important life skill, it’s actually enjoyable and a great way to feel productive in these times!

Closing Words

While you can’t go out and buy the Uni essentials, you’re able to equip yourself with knowledge and skills for University from the comfort of your home. If you would like any more prompts or ideas, feel free to comment below!

-Tony

What I Love About our Campus

Edge Hill University is a campus based university, with all its facilities on one site. There’s so much to see and do on our campus, and in this blog, I’ll discuss what I love about our campus!

How Close Everything Is

Having everything so nearby is great, especially as I have mobility problems. Knowing lessons are a couple of minutes away is comforting, and it also means you’re able to go to other facilities relatively easily between lessons. If you want to get a coffee with coursemates during a break, you can go to one of the many cafes on campus; you’ll never be far from one!

The Sights to See

There’s many great sights to see on our campus. We have lakes and gardens; and they make for nice places to socialise, rather than being inside during the summer. They’re also home to ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and even hedgehogs! If your accommodation is in Founders, you’ll be near the gardens. If you’re in Chancellor’s, you’ll get a nice view of the fountains and water; maybe even our beach!

Facilities

I might sound like a broken record, but I love coffee and our cafes. If you bring a re-usable cup to certain cafes, you’ll even get a discounted price!

Our Catalyst is fantastic. It’s very modern; checking out and returning books using machines feels like something I would see in a film.

I love using our Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre for our course. We’ve only been in there a few times in our Foundation Year, but I can’t wait to use it more and more as the years go on!

The Accommodation

Our accommodation is award winning, and for good reason. We have halls for everyone; alcohol-free, quiet halls, same-sex, etc. and the rooms are fantastic! I’ve seen all of the rooms and I think they’re all a great size. As well as this, they’re all very affordable! I recommend you check out images online here, and take accommodation tours on an Open Day!

Closing Words

I love our campus. I’m looking forward to studying and living here for the next five years for all the reasons listed, and more! I’m really missing our campus, and I can’t wait until it opens up again.

-Tony