If you follow my blog posts here on Inside Edge, you know that I’m currently in the United States of America, on a sandwich placement at the Morton Arboretum. I was fortunate when arranging up this work placement that Edge Hill University had just set up its Student Opportunity Fund (SOF) – a fund that students can apply for to help them make the most of career enhancing opportunities. The fund’s goal is to make sure that no student at EHU passes up a potentially life-changing experience because of the financial burden it might impose.
When I was in the midst of applying for my placement as a Research Affiliate at the Morton Arboretum, I realised quickly that costs would add up. An updated passport, a visa, flights and insurance would quickly put a hefty dent in my finances, leaving my maintenance loan severely lacking for the year abroad. Thankfully, my personal tutor, Paul Ashton, and the Money Advice Team (for whom I was working for at the time as a Money Buddy) informed me about the Student Opportunity Fund and that I could potentially be successful in acquiring additional funding.
Any student on an undergraduate or PGCE course attending EHU can apply for the fund, which will supply them with up to £2000 to support the proposed activity. The projects can be near or far, large or small, requiring the maximum amount available or a portion. Applications could cover travel and accommodation expenses, for example, for unpaid work experience or volunteering; interviews or assessments not covered by the employer; or conferences, festivals, or events where you’re showcasing your work. The fund could also cover costs of developing and making creative material.
Many students have already made use of this amazing fund to enable them to experience some wonderful opportunities that improve both their transferable and career-focused skills:
Four Creative Writing students presented their poetry at The Enemies Project’s annual University Camarade.
Anyone applying for university this year has some quick thinking to do! I can’t tell you what is best for you individually, but I can tell you about my experiences and what was best for me, and my thoughts looking back two years later…
One thing that helped me massively when making my decision was attending different university open days. Luckily, my dad was able to either drive or accompany me on the train for a number of them. Being able to physically experience the university and the surrounding area was a huge aid in my decision making process. I visited both campus and city universities, and honestly most of the city uni’s weren’t for me. Living just outside of London for most of my life, and taking frequent excursions into the capital, had got me used to the bustle of the city. But as a place for me to study in a university setting, the cities I visited weren’t for me, and I would never have known that if I didn’t visit them personally.
Then again, some of the campus uni’s felt too secluded. Edge Hill felt like great middle ground. Despite being a campus university, it is only around 10 minutes from Ormskirk town centre (and although Ormskirk is small, it has good character) and only 30 minutes on the train from Liverpool – a city I’ve also come to love. As soon as my open day at Edge Hill was over, it already felt a tiny bit like home – I knew it had earned a place as either my firm or insurance choice.
In the end, I chose Edge Hill University as my firm, and a uni with much lower entry criteria as my insurance. Now, I don’t regret my firm choice for a second, as Edge Hill is a fantastic uni and I know I’ve already grown as a person just from my year and a half studying here. However, I do regret my insurance choice. I should’ve aimed a little higher and been more confident in myself to achieve the grades I had set out to acquire. After all, if I did end up falling below my expectations, I could’ve always looked at Clearing.
Like I said earlier, I can’t know which decision is right for you. Ultimately all I can do is wish you luck, and hope that you found some of my experiences helpful and worth reading. So with that in mind… Good luck!
Since semester one has essentially finished (bar a few exams and reports being due), I thought I’d take this time to look back on my favourite parts of the modules I’ve experiences on the second year of my undergrad Biology degree.
Life On The Edge
Life On The Edge (LOTE) is the new and improved version of the Environmental Physiology module from previous years, it deals primarily in microbe, plant, and animal extremophiles. The largest addition to the module was Life On The Edge Evening, a series of short presentations, by the students, on a chosen extremophile. This was hosted in the lecture theatre of the new Tech Hub. One of the purposes of the event is to test the students’ research and presentation skills – which counted towards our grade. Although public speaking isn’t my strong suit, it did give me the chance to bust out my PowerPoint skills – as lame as it sounds, I’m quite fond of designing the slides. However anxious it made me, I’m sure the experience improved my public speaking abilities and got me used to presenting in a professional environment.
Another point of interest for this module was the field-trip to Anderton Nature Park, where we sampled the salt springs for microbes and isolated them from the water back at the lab.
This module featured quite an insight into the techniques and points of interest in the field of molecular biology. My personal highlight was learning about epigenetics, as I already knew a little about it and was interested in it before knowing it was featured in the module. Google defines epigenetics as, “The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” This module was quite technical but very rewarding, in that the subject matter is complex but also very cutting edge.
The highlight of Lab Masterclass has got to be using the scanning electron microscope (SEM). It’s an expensive piece of kit, so it’s incredible that the department to trust all the second year undergraduates to use it for our practical coursework. The assignment in question had to contain two images from the SEM which both had to be scientifically relevant, as well as a short report on the subject matter of the images. This practical was weighted quite heavily for the module, so it was imperative we used our time wisely on the microscope to get some impressive images. We could’ve chosen any sample with biological relevance to look at under the SEM, and being a fan of plants, I chose leaves. I won’t go into the details, but here are some of the images I didn’t use, that I think are still pretty impressive:
So you’re all probably familiar with the idea of UCAS, whether this is UCAS points, the application itself or even just the website.
UCAS hosts the application process for universities, meaning that you will have to only fill out one application instead of one for each university you apply to – isn’t this a life saver?
So the deadline this year for Edge Hill applicants is 15 January 2017… this seems ages away, but remember to keep on top of your application. The part you will have heard most about is your personal statement. This is not as daunting as everybody says it is! Basically you write about yourself, telling the University why you want to study the course and why you’re the most suitable candidate to do so.
UCAS do charge a fee of £13 to apply to one course at any one university, or £24 to apply to multiple courses at any university. So bearing this in mind… UCAS is a formal and serious application so make sure you step up and show universities like Edge Hill what you have to offer. UCAS offer more information for undergraduates here, so if you want to find out more on the step-by-step process of the application take a look.
Remember to please ask us if you want more information.