Ten top tips for Year 12 this summer
Becci Denmark, UK EU Recruitment Officer for the University of Surrey, reveals her ten top tips to best prepare for this next step.
So, you’ve finished your first year of Sixth Form and can’t wait to have three months off in the sunshine! Whilst the summer is perfect for spending time with friends and generally relaxing, it is also an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for your final year of college and university applications.
Here are our top ten tips to best prepare for this next step:
1. Work experience
Work experience is vital for students to undertake and I highly recommend that all students get themselves at least one week. Some courses will not accept your application if you haven’t completed any work experience - make sure you have done your research and are aware of any work experience requirements. It shows initiative if you can secure work experience outside of college time. Taking this extra leap shows that you have gone above and beyond.
2. University open days
Open days are a great way to see the university, meet academics and current students and gather loads of info (remember to take a spare tote bag for all the leaflets…oh and freebies!). Be curious and do your research beforehand. Arrive at the open day armed with a list of questions designed to help you make your decision.
3. Taster days and residentials
If you want a more in-depth interaction with your short-listed universities then consider signing up for taster days (essentially one day events that deep dive into a subject area). My top tip, however, is to sign up for a residential. Residential tasters are usually two days long and offer accommodation to students who participate. You will usually stay in the halls of residence, which is a great opportunity for you to explore the other side of university life: living-away-from-home. These activities are normally free of charge and can provide a fantastic addition to your personal statement.
4. Public lectures and local events
Events such a public lectures happen more often than you may think. Whether it be at your local university or your local bookshop guest speakers will set up camp and talk to the public about their most recent novel or research topic. A lot of these events are free and allow for questions and answers at the end. So be open-minded and get on the internet to see what your local education provider or book retailer has to offer.
5. Online courses
Online learning courses are a fantastic way to build on your subject knowledge or to generate enthusiasm for a new subject. Websites like Future Learn and MOOCs offer a variety of courses designed to be completed at your leisure. These courses are free (unless you want the certificate at the end) and you can download the material as you learn - great for anyone of any age wanting to broaden their knowledge just for fun.
6. Get a library card
One of the best ways to discover more about a subject is to read and whilst we are lucky to have the wealth of the internet at our fingertips sometimes reading a book can be more insightful. Some universities will publish reading lists on their website so seize this opportunity to enrich your knowledge. Now books can be quite hefty and expensive but, it doesn’t cost to get a library card and it’s a proactive way to learn more about your favourite subject.
7. Personal Statement
Universities DO read personal statements. If you haven’t made a start on your personal statement then the summer is the perfect time to do so. My top tip is little and often. Start off by setting aside 10 minutes a day and create a mind map of everything about you. This can include academic interests, creative interests, any jobs or work experience etc. A blank piece of paper is pretty daunting, however, it is true what they say: starting is always the hardest part.
8. Get a job
When you write your personal statement, universities like to see that you are involved in activities outside of school such as sports, hobbies and any jobs. The trick is to look into the transferable skills you gain when you have a job. Skills such as team work, leadership and basic communication with peers and the general public are vital when it comes to university. Also earning some extra money for the summer is also very nice!
Think about the skills you developed whilst volunteering and how those skills might support you whilst at university. For example: you volunteer in your local charity shop which means you are interacting with the public every day. This development in your communication and customer service skills will help you with presentations or problem solving. This is a very basic example but gives you an idea on how to begin weaving in your extra circular activities into your personal statement.
10. Research scholarships
Once you have applied for university and the offers start rolling in you will probably need to start looking at student finance. You can get a step ahead this summer by looking into scholarships you might be eligible for. Most universities will list their scholarships on their website. The Complete University Guide has gathered together a list of the various scholarships and bursaries available to students so this is a good starting point. These opportunities are out there you just need to do your research!