The Path Less Travelled

In one of my first blog posts for Inside Edge, ‘Am I too old to go to uni?’, I wrote a little about my decision to come to uni at the age of 23 in an attempt to reassure everyone that it is never too late (and you are never too old) to pursue your dreams. Today, I want to really drive that point home and shed some light on the rather twisty, hilly path I took from sixth form to university. I guess, compared to the majority, it’s the path less traveled.

For most of my time in sixth form, I was preparing to go to university. I didn’t particularly want to and I didn’t feel remotely excited like my peers did, but it seemed like the right and most obvious thing to do. I didn’t even question it. As the application process came to an end and I stared at a UCAS Track inbox full of offers from brilliant universities…I realised that I didn’t want to accept a single one of them. I yearned to be out in the world working and I was desperate to start a creative career. I knew from the research I had done for my personal statement that I didn’t actually need a degree for my chosen career if I could get a solid portfolio so I had a blog throughout college and eventually secured an incredibly prestigious and competitive apprenticeship in social media and digital marketing for businesses. I worked for a fabulous agency in Manchester and was kept on to look after some big household brands after qualifying, living the good life, and drinking free cocktails in fancy bars after work!

Fast forward slightly and my Dad passed away suddenly, leaving me feeling lost and desperate to be with my family more to support them. I gave up my role in digital marketing and spent nearly two years working in foreign currency retail so that I had flexible shifts and never had to take work home with me so that my time with my Mum was undistracted. After 18 months of this, I felt more like ‘me’, and that yearn to be creative was biting at my heels once more. I returned to digital marketing and was delighted to be creating once more, but something was missing.

I had been struggling with my own mental health for years and struggled to find any support in my local area due to huge waiting lists and funding issues. One day, after a truly life-changing phone call with an NHS Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, I Googled his job title and added ‘how to qualify’. Straight away I came across my degree, Counselling and Psychotherapy, and fell in love with how Edge Hill in particular cover the subject in a person-centred way with a huge focus on professional practice and work experience. Throughout my first year and half of my second year, I continued working in my digital marketing role part-time to support myself before deciding to work as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities early in 2020.

As you can see, I’ve moved backwards and forwards through my digital marketing career with breaks to work in retail/foreign exchange in between before deciding to retrain as a psychotherapist by returning to full-time education as an adult. Even whilst studying I have moved jobs in order to better align with my long term goals and feel more fulfilled in my work. I came to Edge Hill aged 23 and will leave next summer at the age of 26 with a CV that would be about 5 pages long if I included everything! The message? Once again…it is NEVER too late and you are NEVER too old.

Sam xo

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

Applying for Medicine: The Good, the Bad, and the UCAT

If you’re considering Medicine, I’m sure you’ve heard about the UCAT; an admissions test required by most medical schools, including Edge Hill University. The UCAT functions similarly to an IQ test, being logic based (besides the Situational Judgement Test). I struggled, so here I’ll share what I wish I knew!

Note: information on how COVID-19 is affecting the UCAT found here.

The Format

The UCAT is two hours long and split into five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement. For more information, click here!

Check Your Eligibility

I didn’t know I was eligible for 25% extra time in the UCAT when I applied, so I sat the standard test. However I knew I was eligible for the UCAT bursary, meaning I didn’t pay for the test.

Booking

Although applications aren’t open, I’d familiarise yourself with the procedure here. It’ll outline things you’ll need. I would book as soon as possible, to get the day that’s best for you.

Preparation

There’s a free official UCAT app. Even though there’s plenty of free resources online, I bought a guide because it was comprehensive and recommended by other students.

I bought this guide in 2018 when the UCAT was called the UKCAT. The article I linked above (and myself) recommends this guide, which is £15! With that said, the free resources are more than enough to score high.

I recommend the UCAT website itself. You should mainly prepare on a computer, because the UCAT is done on a computer. Also, you’re only allowed the online UCAT calculator in questions, so familiarise yourself with that.

On the day, you’ll be given a marker pen and boards to do work on. This isn’t marked, but it helps to get your thoughts down!

Scoring

There is no negative marking for wrong answers, so if you’re low on time for one section, guess! You may get some right, rather than none at all.

You’ll score between 300-900 in four sections, except Situational Judgement (which is banded), getting the score immediately after your test. This means you’ll have your UCAT results when applying to University, so apply strategically, as some Universities prefer higher UCAT scores!

Closing Words

When preparing, a lot of us struggled with Quantitative Reasoning, but it ended up being our best sections. I wish I applied for extra time and that I didn’t skip questions.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

-Tony

The Building Blocks of a Medicine Personal Statement

Although the UCAS deadline for Medicine applications is six months away, you may be considering writing yours now. Most Medicine Personal Statements have a big focus on your skills and personal qualities, but how do you do this? I’ll be detailing my experiences in writing my Personal Statement below!

Planning

You have 4000 characters/47 lines to sell yourself (approximately 500 words). That’s not a lot! Jot down what experiences you want to include, the skills you learnt, and how they relate to becoming a medic. Use this plan as a rough guide, it’s okay if you think of something better to use when writing it!

Support your Skills

If you write that you’re a compassionate person, no matter how true it is, Universities will dismiss it. You’ll need to use experiences as ‘proof’. Did you become more compassionate by seeing something on placement? If so, how? Was it something you saw? When you write about it, respect patient confidentiality, and keep the description to a minimum. Every word counts, you just need to set the scene.

After you’ve said the skill and how you got it, link it to the job. For example, a medic will need to show compassion for a patient and their family when discussing sensitive issues. Show you understand the importance of these qualities.

Some Universities actively list the qualities they look for on the course page, which can remind you of some qualities you have. As long as you don’t lie, you’ll be fine! (Remember: interviewers could ask you to explain some of your Personal Statement).

Re-Drafting

This is a rule of thumb for any piece of writing, but your Personal Statement especially. Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s important to proofread. Having your Personal Tutor or a Medicine co-ordinator in college read will help too. If someone can proofread it, make sure to (politely) ask them!

Closing Words

Your Personal Statement should be about what you’ve learnt and who you are. It can be difficult and it’s okay if you struggle! Ask your tutors for help and ideas (but remember, don’t have someone else write it for you!) The Medic Portal and other resources can be a big help, too.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment. There’s so much more I could talk about when it comes to writing Personal Statements.

-Tony

How I got to University: A Non-Sixth Form Route.

After a month of blogging I thought it was an apt time to post a blog about how I got to university as it may inspire some of you reading this. My path to Edge Hill differs from the norm, to the point I didn’t actually know it was a viable path until I moved in and realised it wasn’t an admin mistake that I got into university.

At high school I was given the idea one of the only ways to get to university was through sixth form, but that is not the truth. After completing my GCSEs I failed to get into the sixth form I intended to go to, this shook up my life plans quite heavily but I managed to recover and enrolled at a college. There I did a Level 3 Extended BTEC Diploma in Business Management that I thoroughly enjoyed. Upon enrolment, I had no idea this would let me go to university after finishing it. I completed my first year, even won a student of the year award, and then got told to apply for UCAS. This is where I realised university was once again an option. Obviously you all know the end to this story, I got into Edge Hill University with a hard earned D*D*D*, but this is a route I knew nothing about until application time came along for UCAS. Not only did I get into Edge Hill, I’m one of the recipients of the High Achievers Scholarship given to new students with grades above a certain point. College was an experience that nurtured my academic abilities, to the point that when university came along, I truly felt ready.

The purpose of this blog is to inform you, the reader, that there’s more than one path to university and even if you didn’t go to sixth form, its still a possibility. I enrolled on a college course with little idea uni was still a prospect and now here I am: deep into my first year, achieving grades I’m very proud of, and blogging my university life directly for the university.

If you’re at college now, reading this, and were unaware of your university prospects, take a look at the Edge Hill website and see what your desired course would require, you just might surprise yourself.

Alice.

Personalise YOUR Statement!

Hey everyone, as there has been a lot of focus on freshers and getting started on university, I thought I would write a post that appeals to the students going through their UCAS application for entering university next year (September 2020). This can be a little stressful and perhaps overwhelming but worry not, I am here to tell you that this is normal.

This post will focus on Personal Statements as I was told in high school that this was the most important part about your UCAS application and in my own personal experience, this statement turned out to be very true.


A little background…

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an author, a teacher, a chef, no, I wanted to be a teacher again and then no, I wanted to be a publisher. When it finally came to writing my personal statement I decided I wanted to be a speech therapist. I went and did one days work experience and some workshops and thought, “this is what I want to do.” Little did I know, that was a BIG lie I told myself.

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It wasn’t until I began to write my personal statement did I realise that what I truly wanted to do in university is train to be a teacher. I realised this when I my careers teacher told me to write about why I wanted to be a speech therapist and what inspired me to want to study this course and I got as far as, “I want to study to become a speech therapist because…” Big seller that would have been, am I right?

After thinking about what to write for a while (three days), I soon realised that what I could write passionately about was why I wanted to be a teacher and why I think I would be great for the course. I don’t think I have ever been able to write so easily about myself like I did in my personal statement. 


What my point here is that, writing your personal statement about what YOU want to do should not be hard. If you truly want to study the course that have picked to write your personal statement about then you shouldn’t need to sit for three days thinking about why you want to be a speech therapist for example. Once I started writing about why I wanted to be a teacher, and why I thought I would be suited to the course I couldn’t turn back to tricking myself into thinking I wanted to a speech therapist. 

Your personal statement should be about why YOU want to study the course YOU have picked and not what you THINK you should study. After all, it is called a Personal Statement for a reason…

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I hope you found this useful for when it comes to writing your personal statement. Remember to keep it concise and to the point about why you want to study the course and really make sure you sell your skills and qualities but most importantly, make sure it is about what YOU want to do.

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

-Marc Anthony-

Getting Your Results

Hi everyone, if you have already got your results and been accepted then congratulations and good on you. For those still waiting I think it’s just A-Level people at this point I want to give a few ideas of what to expect and how to move forward once you receive your grades,

Waiting for results day can be an annoying time, you google what’s going to happen, you talk with people about what they think they will get, you imagine how you will feel if you do well and also if you don’t do so well. Basically you might overthink it a bit but that’s fine, it’s what almost every student does. The important thing is to be ready for any outcome and this is best done by researching other options before the day in case you do worse or even better than expected.

You might have settled for your insurance and just been accepted for your firm, now what? If you research both your university choices well before the day you will know exactly what your choosing between rather than having to look up things like ‘what kind of accommodation is available’? Alternatively you may not get the grades you wanted and now you don’t know what to do. Take it from someone who messed up their AS levels big time, it is not the end of the world! There are other options available to you, maybe your insurance choice uni will end up being brilliant, or this might be the wake up call you need to change what or where your studying. For me after not doing well in my A levels, I realised straight away going that route was never going to be the way forward for me, so I took the plunge and dropped out from school and went to my local college instead to do a BTEC in ‘Creative Media Production’ and those two years turned out to be two of the best, I got into Edge Hill with more practical skills I could apply to my degree and even a high achievers scholarship to boot.

Personal life story aside, results day is an important day but it’s also not judgement day either, just try to take it in your stride and know that whatever results you achieve there’s always options available to you.

Jordan

Exam Tips

Hey guys,

I hope you have all had a fab Easter and indulged yourself with loads of chocolate (much like myself). As most of you know already, it’s getting to that time of year we all dread: deadlines and exam season. So, here’s some few tips for exam preparation. Hope this helps!

  • Study schedule

Make yourself a little timetable surrounding the subjects you’re doing and break this into days of the week. Doing too much on one subject can cause you to stress out a lot more. Split it up so you give yourself 20/30-minute bursts of studying so you keep yourself focused.

  • Old exam papers

This will help you to get to know what sort of exam questions you could expect from the paper you’re about to sit. By practising these types of papers, it should help you to relax when it comes to actually sitting the examination.

  • Study Groups

When I was in college/6th form, I remember organising a few study sessions with a few friends and we would all help each other through our strengths and weaknesses. Also, this helps if you have revision cards and need someone just to read them out to you.

  • Hydrate yourself!

Drinking water throughout the day will help stimulate your brain and provides energy. If you suffer from headaches etc. this also prevents it. P.S. Bring water into the exams with you (as long as it’s a clear bottle with no label). This will give you a break from writing and keep you focused.

  • Whatever happens, happens

Don’t be so hard on yourself when exams come around. Just remember that whatever happens, happens because, you can never know exactly what is going to be on the paper so just try your hardest and that’s honestly the best piece of advice that you will hear 10 times or more from so many different people (including this post).

I hope this helps for all of you doing exams in the coming months. If you want any more tips or just want some advice, please drop a comment down below and I’d be more than happy to help. Good luck!

Ellis x

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[Part Two] Studying in Ireland and thinking of Edge Hill? – UCAS and Results

Irish Leaving Certificate and EHU


As someone who has experienced the Irish Leaving certificate first hand and furthered my education at Edge Hill there are a few things that can trip up the unsuspecting student. This four part guide will hopefully give you an insight into some of the points to consider when coming to Edge Hill from Ireland.

In this part two of the four part guide I want to take a look at the differences between CAO and UCAS, and how to make the most of your results. But bottom line, wither you are happy or sad about what you got there are always pathways open to wherever you want to go.


UCAS

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is the UK variant of CAO. The UCAS system is the application gateway to higher level institutes within the UK. Applying from an Irish perspective is easy, but there are a few trappings. First you will need to speak to your guidance councilor. When applying they will be required to prepare a recommendation for you and project your grades for your exam. Unlike CAO offers for UCAS come early and you are then expected to meet the conditions of the offer.


Your results

When all is said and done, your results are in and you open the envelope hopefully your predicted grades have come through and you have what you need to meet the conditions of your offer. If this is the case then you need to scan the certificate and send a copy to admissions@edgehill.ac.uk.

But what if they haven’t gone to plan. First, don’t panic. I know I did. If you hasn’t made exactly the grades you are looking for, unlike CAO, the UCAS system is prepared for that.  The university may still choose to accept you if they wish. But you have other pathways open to you if not.


Other pathways

If your offer hasn’t been accepted it might be worth looking at UCAS clearing. This is a service that allows you to apply for new courses or universities. The clearing service opens after the A level results have been sent out.

Taking a gap year is another opportunity for you to reconsider your choices. Possibly applying for new courses or even taking a booster course that will improve your chances of being accepted to University.

Finally, repeating. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Repeating your exams is a great way to really focus in on what you want and achieve your goals. Some of the smartest people I know have repeated their Leaving Certificate. Doing it again doesn’t mean you failed, it means you are dedicated.


That’s everything, but if you want to learn more about offers from Edge Hill and UCAS you can check out my other blog post here:

UCAS offers from Edge Hill University – No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.

And if you want more free and great advice email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

[Part One] Studying in Ireland and thinking of Edge Hill? – The Leaving Cert

Irish Leaving Certificate and EHU


As someone who has experienced the Irish Leaving certificate first hand and furthered my education at Edge Hill there are a few things that can trip up the unsuspecting student. This four part guide will hopefully give you an insight into some of the points to consider when coming to Edge Hill from Ireland.

In this, part one, I want to take a look at the Irish Leaving Certificate. For refrence, I studied and completed my Leaving Cert in 2016/17 taking honours Math, English, Gaeilge, DCG, History, Geography and Physics in Deele College, Donegal.


Projects and Portfolios

Getting your projects and protfolios done during the year is important. Not only are these projects the easiest points you will get in your leaving certificate, but they actually will set you up well for university where continious assessment rules the roost.

Its worth remembering not to just submit what the teacher suggests. Do your own thing. The examiner wont want to see the same thing 200 times, so make yours stand out.


Scheduled study, and exam papers

Having a schedule for your revision is a great idea. Spread it out and never cram. I could rant on about my personal opinions in regards to the Leaving Certificate, but this isnt the place. When it comes to your exam take it how it is and make everything count.

Do exam papers. Do all of them. Every single one. One a week every week that you can possibly do them. Trust me, I dont need to explain that any more.


Relax, chill out. Sleep.

Yes the Leaving Certificate is important, and yes you should take it very seriously but you also need to take time to chill out and put work aside every now and again.

And going out partying, thats good but dont let it take over. Trust me, it’s a bad idea.


That’s everything. Take these three things and you will be praised, trust me. If you want to learn more about dealing with stress you can check out my other blog post here.

Dealing with Stress at University – Stress is like the flu, everyone usually gets it

And if you want more free and great advice email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!