Learning new skills for your future!

Hey everyone, since lockdown is still a thing (slightly less so now but still stay safe), I thought I would share some of the things I have been learning to improve some skills and learn new ones!

About a month into lockdown, I decided that I wanted to be more creative and ‘artsy’ as I have never been able to actually stick to anything that includes arts and crafts.I started to make my own scrapbook of my years in university so far and I was really surprised with how it turned out.

It gave me a lot of ideas of what kinds of art lessons I could be teaching in school when I eventually complete my third placement and definitely restored my faith in the fact that everyone can do some form of art!

I have also been using the website Skillshare to improve and learn some new skills which has really kept me busy over this time. One class that I love taking is creative writing classes as you can do so much with them and be as creative with words as you can. In primary school, I always loved creative writing and it is something I want to do more of with my own class as I think it is such an important skill for children to have from a young age.

I managed to get a two month free trial for Skillshare which was such a blessing but I would 100% invest in paying for this monthly as it can introduce you to so many skills that will benefit you in the future and the course you are studying! There are so many classes you can take from photography to business management and even some cooking classes which always come in very handy!

Taking the time to develop skills you already have is a great way to spend your lockdown (if you want to) and also a great way to keep the mind working. I really have tried to use this global pandemic to work on things that would help me in my final year of university and is why I have loved learning new skills and developing skills I already had.

“Without sharpening your weapon; standing on the battlefield would not increase your chance of winning.”


Ankit Sahay

Managing Money – Food Shopping.

Managing Money is an essential part of university life. Whether you’re living off savings, making income through a part-time job, or you’re one of the lucky ones with a rather hefty student loan, you will have to manage this money accordingly to ‘survive’. My blog this week is going to focus in on food shopping at Edge Hill, something you can keep quite cheap if you’re intelligent.

My first few weeks at uni I did a weekly food shop, which wasn’t very smart. I was spending £10-£20 a week on food which majorly ate into my savings. If you set a budget for food before you go, and only go once every, maybe two weeks, like I did in the second semester, you save yourself a lot of money. Another thing I did wrong, I was buying a lot of snacks during my food shops, rather than actual food like bags of Pasta, Rice, stuff to go with those. I strongly recommend not buying snacks during your weekly food shop, and instead of saving that money for McColls’ £1 item aisle which longterm will be more financially manageable. Around Christmas, I was silly with my money and bought lots of chocolate, my diet and bank account were both very unhappy with me for those purchases.

Your essential map to supermarkets in Ormskirk.

I’ve spoke about tips regarding your actual shopping list, but where can you buy food in Ormskirk? You’ve got three main options! The largest supermarket is the Morrisons, I often used it to buy treat items like syrups for my coffee, or nice cheeses. Aldi is another option that most people tend to use, I know I certainly did. I used Aldi for stuff like breakfast items, pasta, rice, general things you need in your food cupboard to put together a satisfying meal that doesn’t break the bank. If you want to treat yourself, beyond what Morrisons can offer, there’s an M&S in Ormskirk. I often bought cookies from M&S during heavy coursework periods to get me through.

My snack draw for coursework survival.

Of course, I will always prefer the method of getting my parents to do my food shop for me when they come to visit, or I go home for a weekend.

Alice.

Student Jobs – Extend Yourself!

Worried about your finances? Perhaps your student loan only stretches to cover your accommodation, or you’ve got the habit of buying luxury products like I do.

While there are jobs outside campus in Ormskirk, and if you can travel there, St Helens, Edge Hill have their own network of positions for students that’ll give you valuable experiences to put on your CV, but also let you make some cash on the side. In the first year, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for the student experience bank ran by Advantage, become a student guide for open days, become a student mentor, or try your hand at this job, student blogger. The jobs on offer are subject to change each year so ensure you check the relevant websites before committing yourself to the whole “I’m going to get this job!” mantra.

I myself currently hold three jobs on campus. This blogging position, student mentor for applicants, and the experience bank. I progressed to the interview phase of student guides but considering all I do I thought it wasn’t wise to pursue it. That ability to think critically about your time is needed if you want to excel in both your studies and a position during your time at Edge Hill. For myself during term time, Tuesday and Friday were earmarked as ‘work’ days, where I’d work on a blog, message mentee, or book myself onto a sounding board. Moving past just those offered by Edge Hill, balance is essential if you’re considering a job off-campus too, consider how long it’d take you to get there and back, if you’re working late how will that affect the next day. Balance is key.

Holding a job while at university is really part of the experience, in my opinion, it elevates that feeling of independence but also rewards you for your hard work beyond what your studies can offer. If you’re an applicant coming to Edge Hill in September, look at the website through this handy link. Good luck with whatever you decide to undertake.

Alice

Applying for Student Finance England

I feel like a lot of people worry about the cost of University. I am paying £9,250 a year in tuition fees, my accommodation, and other living expenses. Thankfully, I haven’t had to pay for any of these out of my own pocket just yet. I, like many other students across the country, have student loans which cover tuition fees and maintenance loans (for living). We all applied for these loans through Student Finance England (SFE).
In this blog, I’ll talk about how to apply for SFE.

(Note: applicants in the EU, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland will go through a different application process. Click here for information).

Before You Apply…

I recommend checking this link. The SFE website has a handy student finance calculator, and will also tell you what loans you’re eligible for, as well as grants. Grants are essentially free money; unlike loans, you’ll never have to pay them back.

I have never met anyone who wasn’t eligible for Student Finance England, but some factors (such as course intensity) can affect your eligibility, so it’s best to have check.

Applying

Applying is an easy online process, so you will need to create an account. In the application process, you will likely need to provide household income (confirmed by a parent/partner) and ID.
Your application should be processed within six weeks.
Hopefully you are all staying safe in these times. Understandably, you may have questions about how the application process may be affected by recent events. Click here to see up-to-date information.

Repaying Your Loan

If you’re applying for an undergraduate course, you’ll be on Plan 2 like me (plans are explained here). This means that, thirty years after you start repaying your loan, your fees will be ‘written off’.
You only start paying your loan if your income is above the repayment threshold (which is currently £25,725). Take this with a grain of salt, as this threshold will very likely change. The takeaway message is don’t worry, there’s a good chance you’ll never have to fully repay your loans.

Closing Words

The online application process for SFE is relatively quick and simple. You can contact SFE if there’s ever an issue when applying. We encourage you to apply for SFE now, so your funding will be in place when you start University. Even if you haven’t gotten an offer yet, you can still apply for SFE!

-Tony

Student Finance – Northern Ireland.

Hey everyone, it is coming to that time in your university journey that you have to start thinking about your finances to support you throughout the academic year and beyond. Coming from Northern Ireland, my experience with student finance was slightly different but not that scary at all. 

Applying for your student finance well in advance before the closing date is so essential as sometimes, the application forms do not get approved straight away due to a small mistake or the incorrect information being given.

The first thing I did when applying to student finance was talk to someone who had already been through it. I spoke to my cousin who had been through it a couple of times and she was the one who told me to look online before I started. She also told me that it was easier if I applied for student finance online rather than through the document that was given to me at school. This was because if there was a mistake in the hard copy of the application it would take longer to send back and then have to post it away again once it was corrected. The student finance Northern Ireland website actually advises this as well.

As you probably already know, you need to be careful about what application form you download and so, there are a couple of things you need to check before you start to fill in the application form. Firstly make sure that you are applying for the correct academic year, that you chose the undergraduate or postgraduate form and if you are a full time or part time student. This information is essential to check before beginning the form.

The application form is quite long but as I said there is a lot of guidance on the website that you can download. I found these really helpful as the process can be quite overwhelming and some of the questions can be confusing. Just remember to keep checking over what you have done to minimise the chances of it being sent back again.

Also, when it comes to the part in the application that requires you to fill in household income, it might be useful to have your parents/guardians around you to ensure that you get the correct information as this will affect how much money you recieve. On the student finance NI website there is a guide that parents and guardians can read/download if they need any additional support or clarification about what information is needed.  

As I am in my second year of university, when I get my finance is different from my first year but they are usually around the same time. I get my first instalment of student finance in September (around the 15th/16th mark) just in time before I start classes (and freshers!). My second instalment usually drops right after Christmas time when school starts back again (mine came on the 6th of January 2020). My final instalment usually comes in after Easter just in time for the end of the academic year for me.

Like I said, the website is very useful and full of information if you need it but do not be afraid to give them a call for anything at all. I rang when I didn’t understand what I needed to do when applying for my second year student finance and the person on the phone was very calm and talked me through what I needed to do.

I hope that you found this useful and are excited to start your university journey, Lauren Fitzsimons.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

-Beverly Sills-

Budgeting as a Student

Before coming to University, there’s a good chance you’ve heard students talking about how little money they have. No matter how generous your student loan can be, it can be easy to spend too much and be left with pennies. However, there are plenty of small changes you can make to stop yourself going into your overdraft. In this blog, I’m going to talk about how I’ve managed my money.

Treating Yourself

It can be tempting to splurge – and you should! University is stressful, and you should spend money to enjoy yourself. Usually, people would treat themselves to a takeaway, and although they’re nice, they’re expensive. At ALDI, you can buy pizzas for as cheap as 65p, and as expensive as £3. You can also buy curry sauce, rice, and sides for less than £5. With takeaway pizzas usually costing as cheap as £6, by doing this you’re saving more than £5, which can make a huge difference while still getting the takeaway experience. Side note: A majority of ALDI’s items are the cheapest in Ormskirk, so it’s more economical to do most/all your shopping there!

Going Out

Liverpool is a train ride away and can make for a nice night out. However, a cinema trip can cost £12 (£5 for a train ticket with railcard and £7 for the cinema ticket). Instead of spending £12 to see a film, why not take a five-minute walk to see a free film every Friday in our Arts Centre? The £12 you’re saving can go towards clothes or a food shop.

Getting a Job

Shops in Ormskirk are always hiring, but there are opportunities to earn money on campus, such as being a student representative. This can be beneficial if your student loan is low, although a job would be another factor to accommodate for in your work-life balance. Thankfully, there is support at University to help you manage your time, as well as helping you manage money.

Closing Words

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the things you enjoy in your life. You just may need to splash out less frequently, and look for alternative, cheaper ways. I’ve never had any issues with money, and I’ve been able to enjoy myself (as have many of my friends, so hopefully these ideas will be effective for you.

Is University Worth the Debt?

One of the many comments made about University is about the debt students come away with once they’ve completed the degree. On top of the actual amount itself, you also have interest and that could calculate to £60,000. However, this amount of money shouldn’t scare you or put you off of going to University, especially if it’s something you’ve wanted to do. Here are a few reasons why University is worth the debt!

 Make friends for life

You’ve probably heard this one before, but honestly, it true. I know so many people that have come away from University, and they still keep in contact with the friends they made at University. I think it’s because you go through so much together such as: moving into a house, going on nights out etc.

Employment

Once you’ve got a degree out of University, you are more likely to be accepted for a job – sometimes it doesn’t even matter which subject your degree is (this doesn’t always happen). If you want to find out more about the statistics with the University you’re going to, look at the degree subject you’re wanting to study on the Uni website itself, or UniStats.

Career Opportunities

Work experience is a massive part of university life. You’ll get opportunities coming to you left, right and centre – yes you will probably need to apply for it by putting in an application, but it’s what it will be like in the future. I would recommend trying to go for as many opportunities you can as you never know if going for one could lead you to another.

Life Skills

You will gain so many life skills, many of which will be transferable throughout your days at University. Whether it’s getting better at presentations, or writing, these skills are always going to valuable to you, and will make you a stronger candidate for jobs going forward.

I hope this has helped if you’re still a bit undecided about University. Student Debt should always be considered, but it shouldn’t stop you from going to University, especially if that’s what you really want to do.

Ellis x

Love heart signature

Student Discounts

Hi guys, as a student money can be tight, so it’s a good job that there are a variety of discounts available if you are interested in saving money, here are a few things I use.

NUS TOTUM Card: You can purchase one of these in the on campus SU shop or online for just £12 a year. They can be used for discounts across a range of businesses throughout the UK and they can even be used within the SU shop and bar for extra sweet savings, also worth noting you save more  money on the card price overall by buying a three or two year card. https://cards.totum.com/join

UNiDAYS: Accessible through the website or via the nifty app, UNiDAYS is completely free and only requires verification of being a student by signing in using your Edge Hill portal credentials. The app also grants you discounts across a range of things like, shops, restaurants and online retailers. https://www.myunidays.com/GB/en-GB

16-25 Rail Card: My personal favourite, the rail card can save you up to a 1/3 on rail prices, usually the 1/3 is more applicable if your ticket is over a tenner but savings can be made regardless of the fare. I use this all the time and would recommend it to anyone who used trains at least every now and again. It costs £30 a year but I managed to get it for free with my bank account so that’s something else to look out for. https://www.16-25railcard.co.uk/

Mobile Network Rewards: OK, this one isn’t exclusively for students but I thought it best to put here since there are some really great deals to be had through some networks own rewards for being a customer. Networks like 02, Vodafone and EE among others all have various deals, such as discounted cinema tickets, free food and priority booking for concerts.

Student Offers: Sometimes you don’t always need an extra item to avail of discounts, an Edge Hill card will get you plenty of discounts on it’s own. From  student offers in restaurants, to saving on movie going, through a student ticket.

So there’s a few ways the student can save money, hope this helped and thanks for reading.

Jordan

Countdown to Graduation!

Hi everyone!

My graduation day is looming and I am definitely feeling a mixture of both nerves and excitement.

For more information on Graduation week at Edge Hill see below!

Your Graduation Day

I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing day, I have finally found my outfit as well so that’s definitely made me more excited for the day. My ceremony is at 10:30 so it’s going to be an early start but hopefully I’ll be so excited I won’t care about the time!

At your graduation you also get the option to buy any last minute momentous such as the Edge Hill merchandise including a special 2019 graduation hoodies, teddy bears, key rings etc. Most departments are also throwing parties for students after ceremonies which is such a good opportunity to say goodbye to lecturers!

My plan is to go out for a meal afterwards with my family to celebrate me and my degree, it’s also going to be such a nice day to reflect on what have been an incredible three years!!!

See you all next time,

Ellie 🙂

Student Bank Accounts

When it comes to finances during the time you spend at University, one of the things you will need to look at is opening a student bank account. The majority of the banks within the UK will give you an overdraft but, there are other incentives too depending on what bank you go with. These are my top 5 bank accounts for students that I think would be suitable for all your University needs.

Santander 

Image result for bank account

With Santander, you not only get up to a £2000 overdraft but, there is also an incentive for a 4 year railcard and up to 3% in-credit interest rate. If you’re like me and are living far away from home but would like the opportunity to go home quite a bit, this would be a perfect option for you, allowing you a 1/3 of your train travel. 

HSBC 

If you apply for a student account with HSBC,  you can get an £80 amazon gift card as well as 1 year student prime. This is a great deal and on top of this, the overdraft is up to £3000 as well. Starting with a guaranteed £1000 in the 1st year and up to £3000 in your 3rd year.

NatWest 

NatWest offers students up to a £2000 overdraft and a choice of 1 out of these 3 options:

  • 1 year of student amazon membership and £10 amazon gift card.
  • 1 year national express coach card.
  • OR a 1 year taste card.

All of these options are amazing however, you do have to deposit £750 into your bank account every 6 months and you need to make 3 monthly transactions in order to keep your overdraft.

Lloyds Bank

Image result for student bank accountLloyds Bank is one of the lower overdrafts out there only offering up to £1500. Tiering to £500 for the first 6 months, £1000 from 7-9 months and £1500 after that. Even though they don’t offer the highest amount, they do have the incentive of the NUS student extra card.

Barclays 

Although Barclays don’t offer any incentives for students, they do offer up to a £3000 overdraft which is one of the best deals to go for. Upon opening the account, you will get £500 and ask for it to be increased over time. This will then go up to £2000 in 2nd year and £3000 in 3rd year. Also, Barclays do offer cash-back with a few retailers so its good to keep an eye on their offers through their website or app.

There are so many more UK banks out there that offer other incentives, so all you have to do is go in to your local and ask about student accounts prior to coming to University. I should specify that even though you shouldn’t rely on overdrafts as ‘money to spend’, it’s always a comfort to know that you have something to fall back on in times of need.

Ellis x

Love heart signature