What Next? Articles offer timeless career advice, interview tips and CV examples.

  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    What will you do next after your exams?

    IT’S never too early to start thinking about what you want to do when you’ve finished your GCSEs.


    And with so many different opportunities depending on your skills, interests or chosen career path – the world really is your oyster.


    When it comes to considering the next chapter in your learning, look at the pros and cons of each of the options available to you.


    You might decide to stay on to study A-levels in your school’s sixth form, go to college for vocational training or start an apprenticeship.


    For some of you, the decision might be easy because perhaps you’ve always known that you want to be a doctor, plumber or architect. For the rest of you it might seem more than a little mind- boggling deciding what it is you want to do.


    But there are ways to make it seem less daunting, which start with approaching it positively and with an open mind.


    Considering what you are good at and what you are interested in can be a good place to start. If you enjoy learning and want to continue your education in a familiar environment, then A-levels are the most traditional route to university and take two years to complete.


    If you fancy doing something a little more vocational, then there are plenty of other qualifications you can look into such as NVQs and BTECs.


    Always aim to do something you will love because there is no point wasting time and money on something you will not be passionate about.


    When it comes to looking at your options for when you’re 18, higher education continues to be a popular choice for school-leavers, whether it’s university or more vocational courses such as Higher National Diplomas (HNDs).


    If you opt to work towards a degree, you can go down the academic route or pick a course more closely connected to your dream job.


    There is evidence that graduates go on to have higher earning potential and have a greater choice of jobs.


    University also helps you to develop life-long skills that will come in handy in all kinds of different jobs and industries. For some careers, higher education is a must, so don’t discount it without looking into what qualifications are expected for your chosen profession because you don’t want to be disappointed later. Research is key.


    Vocational courses can give you more hands-on experience and can be a quicker route into work.


    If you feel ready for the workplace, then an apprenticeship may be the best fit.


    These are becoming more and more popular with an increasing number of opportunities available every year – so are well worth some serious consideration.


    They give you the chance to be paid while you are trained on the job and are working towards industry-specific qualifications so they might be a more direct route to the career you want.


    Employers are keen to recruit apprentices who they can train to develop the necessary skills for their industry and in certain industries they are in high demand due to ageing workforces.


    Higher and degree apprenticeships are available for more than 100 different job roles across around 75 industries. So, there are many paths to consider when you are deciding what next.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    What qualifications should you aim for?

    WHAT happens after you take your GCSEs?


    You have to stay in education or training until you are aged 18, unlike your older brother or sister who may have left education at 16.


    There are three main categories of qualifications you can take – academic, vocational and apprenticeship-based.


    A-levels are the main academic route and if you think you might want to go to university then these are definitely worth considering. Although UK universities do accept other entrance qualifications, the admissions system is geared towards A-levels.


    These qualifications have recently been overhauled. The content for the new A-levels has been reviewed and updated, with universities playing a much greater role in this for the new qualifications than they did previously.


    It is hoped that this will make A-levels better preparation for university study and the move has been welcomed by higher education institutions.


    A-levels are achieved after two years of study and there are lots of different subjects to choose from. They can be done at a school sixth form or a further education college and you can also take them alongside vocational qualifications.


    The combination of subjects you choose is very important as it will influence your chances of getting onto a degree course at university. It’s important to research which A-levels are required for the subject you would like to study later or the career path you want to take. Some courses, such as veterinary medicine, for example, will require you to have studied specific subjects. It’s always better to spend time finding out what the industry wants so you’re not disappointed later.


    By applying learning to real- life situations, vocational qualifications such as NVQs and BTECs offer a more practical approach than traditional academic courses.


    They may be related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care or they might lead to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery or plumbing.


    But if you think you’re ready for the workplace, then taking an apprenticeship is a great way to learn hands-on skills in a real world setting and you will be paid while you learn. There are more than 280 types of apprenticeship for more than 1,500 job roles–anything from engineering to boat-building, or veterinary nursing to accountancy.


    Or you could decide to combine training or studying for a qualification and work at the same time. It doesn’t have to be a paid job, you can volunteer on a project or with a charity, or get a work- experience placement in a career or job area that interests you.


    Colleges offer a wide range of training courses that are part-time, including A-levels, BTECs and NVQs.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Apprentices earn and learn

    AN apprenticeship offers hands-on practical training in a job of your choice while you earn a salary.


    It means you’re treated just like all the other employees, with a contract of employment and holiday leave.


    If you’re 16 or over, you can become an apprentice as long as you spend at least 50 per cent of your working hours in England for the duration of the apprenticeship and you are not in full-time education.


    Your apprenticeship can take between one and six years to complete, depending on which apprenticeship you choose, what level it’s at, and your previous experience. From engineering to nursing and from law to design – thousands of apprenticeships are available every year in a vast range of industries and careers.


    Advanced apprenticeships are equivalent to two A-level passes. To be accepted you should have five GCSEs or more. Higher apprenticeships range between Level 4, which is the equivalent of one year of higher education study, to Level 6, which is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree. They cover around 75 industries and more than 100 different job roles, ranging from legal services to banking and engineering.


    Higher and degree apprentices typically split their time between college or university and the workplace.


    An apprenticeship can lead to a long-term job after the initial contract is completed. You can also pick up life-long skills that will be useful and adaptable to any industry.


    The whole time you will be making a good name for yourself and building professional contacts, which will benefit you greatly in the future.


    As with other apprenticeships, students are employed throughout and the cost of the fees are shared between the Government and the employer. Many employers choose to pay substantially more than the apprenticeship minimum wage, which is £4.30 per hour for those under 19.


    As well as having many benefits for apprentices, the scheme is also popular with employers. Many see it as an investment because they can guide and train their recruits to have the specific skills required for the industry and ensure they are reliable members of the workforce.


    Employers want an apprentice who is polite, punctual and reliable. They also want a quick learner who can follow instructions and advice and someone who can think on their feet to fix any problems that crop up.


    Firms will be looking for a team player who will fit into the existing workforce well. Their apprentice will need to have good people skills, especially if the role involves dealing with customers or the public.


    For more information and support on applying for an apprenticeship, log on to www.apprenticeships.gov.uk


    Some of the reasons to choose an apprenticeship:


    • Earn while you learn and get paidacompetitive salary.


    • Your training is free.


    • You can choose from hundreds of different apprentice jobs in thousands of organisations.


    • Get high-quality training paid for by your employer and the Government.


    • It’s a great way to get back into the workplace after a career break, or to re-train in a new area.


    • You can boost your future earnings potential.


    • It enables you to develop the skills you need for a range of exciting jobs or careers, no matter your age or background. How much can you earn?


    • Your salary will depend upon the industry, location and type of apprenticeship you choose.


    • The national minimum wage is £4.30 per hour if you’re aged 16 to 18 – but many employers pay far more than this.


    • After the first year of your apprenticeship it is £4.62 for under 18s, £6.56 for 18-20, £8.36 for 21 and 22 and £8.91 for 23 and over.


    What will my apprenticeship cost me?


    • When you become an apprentice, you’ll need to cover the cost of your day-to- day expenses, such as lunch and travel.


    • If you’re a care leaver aged 16 to 24, you’ll receivea£1,000 bursary payment to support you in the first year of your apprenticeship.


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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Case study: Harry get career all revved up

    NOT only do apprenticeships help to build the skills that employers really value, but they can help you make your mark in your chosen industry, as Harry Ruffell Hazell has discovered.


    The 20-year-old works at world- renowned Classic Motor Cars based on Stanmore Business Park in Bridgnorth.


    During his apprenticeship, the former Bridgnorth Endowed School pupil has been training in all aspects of the industry at the firm which has been at the forefront of classic car restoration for the last 27 years.


    His commitment and hard work haven’t gone unnoticed by managing director Nigel Woodward, who nominated him for the prestigious Royal Automobile Club Historic Awards.


    Harry was one of just three apprentices nationally to have been put forward for the RAC Young Achiever of the Year award, which recognises rising stars aged between 18 and 30 who are going above and beyond and building their future in Britain’s historic motoring world.


    The apprentice, who is from Ditton Priors, was nominated for the award because of the quality of the work he carried out during the restoration of a 1955 Lancia Aurelia.


    Harry, who completed an engineering diploma at Telford College of Arts and Technology, had the opportunity to drive the car on its first ever outing at the London Classic Car Show in 2019


    “With the help and guidance from the technicians at CMC, I have been able to witness first-hand all the skills I will need during my career. Even better, being able to use these skills to carry out restorations by myself including, a Lancia Aurelia B20 and Jaguar Series 1 E-Type. I am beyond grateful to be shortlisted,” says Harry.


    Nigel said: “It is no surprise to me that Harry has been shortlisted for this award. His infectious enthusiasm is clear for all to see. Always keen, engaged and not only willing to learn but eager to put in to practice the skills that he is developing.


    “Harry has been one of CMC’s best recruitment decisions. We are thrilled that the RAC has seen fit to shortlist Harry for such a prestigious award. Harry has a great future ahead of him and we are proud to call him a CMC apprentice,” says Nigel.


    CMC is an owner-managed Trust where the staff actually own the company, and is a partner of The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) – an employer-led response to bridging the skills gap by creating industry-ready apprenticeships and delivering the best upskilling opportunities including courses that teach apprentices classic car skills.


    Young people learn their trades in trimming, auto electrics, bodywork, paintwork and general mechanics.


    The Marches Centre operates two state-of-the-art manufacturing training facilities in Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury, which have been developed to replicate real-world manufacturing environments and feature technology that is unrivalled in the UK.


    Companies and apprentices can also tap into In-Comm’s Technical Academy in Aldridge, which also features a dedicated fluid-power cell and a new power press and tooling cell.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Explore the other qualifications that can boost your future

    WHEN considering your options it’s also worth researching some of the lesser known qualifications which could benefit your future.


    T Levels are new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to three A-levels.


    These two-year courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study.


    They offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours, approximately 45 days.


    T Levels are based on the same standards as apprenticeships and approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).


    They are more suited to students who know what occupation or industry they want to move into.


    In time they will be available in a wide range of subjects which include accounting, agriculture, land management and production, animal care and management, building services engineering for construction and catering.


    They will also be courses for craft and design, design and development for engineering and manufacturing, design, surveying and planning for construction, digital business services, digital production, design and development and digital support and services.


    Other T level programmes focus on education and childcare, finance, hair, beauty and aesthetics, health, healthcare science, human resources, legal, maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing, management and administration, engineering, manufacturing, processing and control, media, broadcast and production, on-site construction and science.


    Another qualification worth researching, especially if you plan to go to university in the future, is an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).


    It is a standalone qualification, valued by universities, and is often taken by students in addition to their A -level studies.


    Around 30,000 students take an EPQ, which is worth half an A-level, every year to boost their university applications. They allow teenagers to extend their abilities beyond the A-level syllabus and prepare for university or their future career.


    It requires them to carry out research on a topic that they have chosen and is not covered by their other qualifications. They then use their findings to produce a written report of 5,000 words or, in the case of practical projects, an artefact or a production.


    Students can tailor their project to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations for the future. More information about the EPQ can be found on the UCAS website.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Take a virtual tour to help make your choice

    SCHOOLS, colleges and universities are turning to technology to help them showcase what they have to offer prospective students and their families.


    Virtual open days became popular last year due to Covid restrictions and more and more education centres will be hosting events online in the coming months.


    They may include pre-recorded content or live events, or some will combine both, and they will usually offer a welcome talk from a senior member of staff, which might be live or pre-recorded.


    There will also be a video tour of the campus and grounds so viewers can see everything from the classrooms and lecture halls to the libraries, canteens and sports facilities. This will allow you to build up a picture of where you will spend your time when you are studying as well as during your breaks and leisure time.


    Some schools, colleges and universities will run a question and answer forum with senior staff, and the option to book some one-to-one time with someone relevant to your course or interests.


    Although it’s never going to be as good as being able to visit in person, it can still be a chance to learn a lot about the ethos and culture of the place.


    If it's a sixth form, then asking about what support is available to help you decide what to do after leaving school is important. Find out if they have any links with employers and organise work experience placements.


    If it’sauniversity, then it helps to do plenty of research so you know in advance what you would like to ask.


    Don’t forget to look at the accommodation on offer as well as finding out about clubs and other activities on campus.


    When the virtual open day is finished, it should give parents and students a good feel for the place.


    Schools, colleges and universities are doing their best to show and share as much as they can online and will be happy to answer any questions students have or provide additional information.


    It may be that there will also a chance to visit in person as restrictions ease so take up the opportunity if it arises.


    If it's a university, make sure to plan a visit to the town or city where it’s based, when restrictions allow, so you can get to know where you might be living for the next three or four years.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Extra Support for the students who need it

    FOR those of you who need extra support as you move onto the next stage of your education, there are many different paths available.


    As the Government has recently changed the law on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), it means organisations and services providing support will work together more closely.


    Their goal is to help you continue your education and training, or find a job, and it gives you a greater say in the support you need and how it’s provided.


    There are many options including staying on at school, going to a further education or specialist college, applying for work-based training with an employer or training provider and voluntary work.


    Your current teachers and those at the school or college you’re applying to, will be able to give you information about the educational support you can get.


    It’s worth looking into specialist colleges as these offer extra facilities and one-to-one support you may not get at your local college or school. They might be helpful if, for example, you have sight or hearing difficulties, need medical care, or require special equipment.


    Supported internships are another popular route for students with learning difficulties or impairments.


    To be eligible you need a Statement of SEND, a Learning Difficulty Assessment, or an Education Health and Care Plan.


    Internships are offered by further education colleges, sixth form and independent specialist providers. They are unpaid and last for at least six months with the aim of getting a paid job.


    These study programmes are put together to give each student the training, support and work skills they need to help them get employment. Most of the learning is done in the workplace with hands-on experience.


    At the same time you will also have the chance to study for qualifications and other training or learning.


    During the internship you will have a tutor and expert job coach to work with you and the employer.


    You can find out more about supported internships from your school, local college, social worker, transition worker, or from Job Centre Plus.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Keeping your cool on exam results day

    IT’S only natural to feel nervous on exam results day. But staying calm will help you, whatever happens, as you take your next steps.


    For many, it will be a great experience as they receive confirmation that all of their hard work has been worth it and they’ve secured the grades required for their first- choice university or college. But for others it can bring disappointment and uncertainty about what lies ahead. Not getting the results you were expecting can feel like the end of the world but you shouldn’t panic because whatever your grades, there will still be great options open to you and it might be you find your dream course somewhere you hadn’t previously considered. Try to remain calm, as you need to stay focused to be able to consider your next steps properly and you may need to make quick decisions if you are offered alternative university or college places.


    Remember that you are not alone, as thousands of other students up and down the country are likely to be going through the same experience. Being prepared can help, so when you go to collect your results, make sure you have your paperwork and UCAS reference numbers to hand in case you need to make some calls.


    Firstly, if you’ve just missed getting the grades you need for your first choice of university or college course then it’s definitely worth contacting them directly and asking if they will still accept you. Some will make exceptions and will accept students with lower marks. If they can’t give you a place on the course you originally applied for, they may offer you a different one.


    Check the situation with your insurance choice – if you’ve got the grades you needed then you will have a place and if you haven’t then they may still make you an offer. Always keep an eye on Track – the name of UCAS’ online tracking system – where you can see how your application is progressing.


    If you haven’t got a place and you still want to go to university, you can use Clearing, which is available through the UCAS website from results day. This is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have. Clearing vacancies are updated regularly by universities and colleges and if you don’t find the course you’re looking for straight away, it’s worth trying again later. It may be that you can find the same course available somewhere else with lower entry grades or you might want to consider a different subject.


    If you are flexible with the location, then that is likely to increase the choices available. You don’t have to stick with your original idea, so speak to an adviser at school about what else you could do or contact the university to find out more about a different course that you may have discounted before. Once you’ve found a suitable one, you can then contact the university or college directly to see if they will accept you.


    If you still want to go to university but you can’t find a course or your heart is still set on your first choice, then look into whether you can re-sit your exams and re-apply for next year. University is not the only option, so think about other paths you may not have considered before. Vocational training may be a quicker route to your chosen career and provide valuable on-the-job experience.


    If you are still unsure what to do then consider a gap year to buy yourself some thinking time. You may find your priorities change. This can also be a good chance to get some work experience or learn new skills.


    Finally, put it all into perspective. You could only do your best and as long as you did that, family and friends will be proud of you, no matter what happened on results day.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Which University is right for you?

    ONCE you’ve decided that university is right for you, the next step is to determine where you are going to spend the next three or four years of your life.


    For most of you, choosing a university isn’t going to be a quick process as there are lots of factors to consider. When starting to look at the different options, it’s better to consider the course you want to study first before looking at where it’s offered.


    There is one thing that you should try to remember when choosing a subject – it should be something you enjoy and that you would be happy to study in-depth for the next few years.


    Consider the subjects you enjoy the most at school and then research similar courses that you can study at university. If you really don’t have a clue, then start by discounting the subjects you have absolutely no interest in to narrow down the search field.


    You also need to think about whether you want a course offering a clear career path or does your interest lie in one of the more traditional academic subjects? It may be that you have a dream job in mind, making your choice obvious. For example, if you want to be a vet, then a veterinary medicine/science degree course is a must.


    Be aware that the same title of course will not be taught in the same way or cover the same material at every university offering it.


    Make sure you pay attention to the detail because even the way in which courses are assessed can differ.


    Another consideration, if you go for a more vocational course, is whether it is approved by a professional body, because this can give you a head start when you apply for a job in your chosen industry.


    The next step is to think about the location – there are more than 395 providers of undergraduate courses in the UK. Take time to consider carefully whether you want to move away from home or study nearby.


    Do you want a university in the middle of a city or town or a single-site campus? Look at the facilities provided by the university and what will be on the doorstep for leisure and nightlife activities.


    Once you have narrowed your options down, then attend an open day as this is one of the best ways to find out if it’s the right fit for you.


    A glossy prospectus can sometimes be deceiving, showing only the best bits, and when you get there you could find the reality is rather different.


    Open days are also an opportunity to learn more about your chosen course by talking to staff, while some will include sample lectures.


    But remember that it’s not the end of the world if, after all your careful research, you end up beginning your studies and realising you’ve made a mistake. Universities have guidance staff on hand to help first-year students who discover their course wasn’t what they were expecting and there will still be plenty of options available to you.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Individual needs are supported to enable you to reach your full potential.

    We are delighted to have been announced as the best Further Education College for Apprenticeship Training and the Best College in West Midlands for Apprenticeship Achievement awards.


    At South Staffordshire College you can complete an apprenticeship in a broad range of areas such as agriculture and land-based, business, engineering, motor vehicle, construction and trades, care, leisure, digital, retail, commercial, and many more. View our apprenticeship vacancies by visiting: www.southstaffs. ac.uk/apprentice-vacancies


    Additional learning support


    At each college, we have a dedicated learning support team who will work with you to ensure your individual needs are supported to enable you to reach your full potential with in-class support, medication needs, wellbeing and a safe place to discuss your support needs. Located at Rodbaston and Tamworth, Futures is a facility offering sensory space designed to cater for students aged 16-25 with a range of complex learning needs.


    Higher education


    Study a university-level course with us and choose from a variety of degrees in subjects including animal science, computing, music performance, film production, engineering, musical theatre, education and many more. Fees are often over £2,000 lower than most universities, meaning higher education has never been more accessible. If you need help with funding your studies, the college’s dedicated support team are on hand to help you explore your options.


    Why not take your first steps towards creating your career by visiting us at an open day to find out more about the full range of courses and apprenticeships on offer. Book your place at southstaffs. ac.uk/open-days


    Follow us for regular updates.


    Facebook: SouthStaffordshireCollege

    Twitter: @southstaffs

    Instagram: South_Staffordshire_College

    YouTube: southstaffscollege

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    How to apply for your place at University

    APPLYING to university can seem confusing, daunting and even overwhelming. You may be worried about how to get started but the process has been designed to make it as easy as possible for you.


    All applications to universities in the UK are made through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admission Service. Although it might seem confusing at first, the system has been designed to be straight- forward and ensure you can keep track of your application, choices and offers.


    How to begin


    Firstly, register for your Apply account at www.ucas.com/apply where you will need to enter your personal details, get a username, create a password, and set your security questions. Your school or college will also give you a buzzword which you will also be asked to enter.


    Next, you will be able to choose your courses – you select up to five but they won’t be able to see where else you’ve applied and there’s no preference order. For medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or veterinary science, you can only apply to a maximum of four courses in any one of these subjects. You can only apply to one course at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.


    The next step is entering all your qualifications, whether you have the result or are still awaiting them.


    You then need to add in details of any paid jobs and include company names, addresses, job descriptions, and start and finish dates. Next, you will have to write a personal statement – this is your chance to show universities or colleges why you want to study the course and why you would make a great student.


    Make sure to check your application carefully before marking it as complete.


    Get a reference – this is a written recommendation normally from a teacher, adviser, or professional who knows you academically.


    After you’ve sent your application to UCAS – it will be processed and you will be sent a welcome email confirming the application has been sent. This email will also contain your Personal ID, which will enable you to track its progress.


    Key terms


    Extra is a free service and allows students to apply to one course at a time between February 25 and July 4. To be eligible, you need to have had no offers.


    If you’ve done better than expected in your A-levels, Adjustment allows you to see what other courses are available. If you’ve had no offers or your exams don’t go to plan, there’s always Clearing.


    It’s how universities and colleges fill any places they still have. You will need to contact the course providers directly if you see a course that interests you.

    Important Dates


    • October 15, 2021: Deadline for applications to Oxford, Cambridge, and most medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine/science courses.


    • January 15, 2022: Deadline for the majority of undergraduate courses.


    • February 25: Extra begins.


    • April 14: If you have received all your university/college decisions by March 16, reply by April 14.


    • May 5: If you have received all your university/college decisions by March 31, reply by May 5.


    • May 6: If you submitted your applications by January 15 and you’re still waiting to hear from them, universities/colleges will decide whether they’re making an offer by now.


    • June 4: If you received all your university/college decisions by May 6, reply to any offers by now or they’ll be declined.


    • June 18: If you have received all your university/college decisions by June 4, reply to any offers by this date.


    • June 30: Applications received after this date are entered into Clearing.


    • July 5: Last date to apply in Extra. n July 6: Clearing opens.


    • July 13: If you submitted your applications by June 30, universities/ colleges will decide whether they’re making an offer.


    • July 14: If you have received all of your university/college decisions by July 9, reply by this date.


    • August 13: A-level results day. All Clearing vacancies are displayed in the search tool via the UCAS website and Adjustment opens for registration.


    • August 31: The deadline for any remaining conditions to be met – otherwise the university or college might not accept you. Adjustment ends. 


    • September 21: The last date you can submit applications to 2022 entry courses.


    • October 20: Last date to add Clearing choices and for universities/ colleges to make decisions.



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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Take a break from study with a gap year

    A GAP year can provide endless opportunities whether it’s travelling around the world, learning a new skill, volunteering or getting a job to pay for your studies.


    It’s traditionally a 12-month break from study taken by students before they start their degree or employment.


    If you have finished your A-levels and you decide this is the right path for you, then you need to spend this time wisely and really make it count.


    As fun as it might sound, it’s not going to impress anyone if you spend 12 months lounging around at home binge-watching shows on Netflix because let’s be honest – you can’t put that on your CV.


    One beneficial way to spend a gap year is to use it to build up some work experience – either relevant to the career you have in mind or to help you to develop general skills such as IT, language and communication.


    Working for a year can also be a way to earn money for university, taking the pressure off your finances.


    Work opportunities are not just available at home as many companies run schemes allowing gap year students to work abroad on paid placements. These might include roles involving working with children or conservation work.


    Many students use this time to travel which can bring many benefits such as the chance to be independent, budgeting and learning other languages and cultures. It’s the perfect opportunity to have new experiences while standing on your own two feet for the first time.


    This can help make you better prepared for university, both academically and socially. But make sure you have a plan of action for when your year is up – whether it’s further study or work.


    If you don’t feel ready to go on to university or higher education, then this break can also buy you some valuable thinking time before further study especially if you don’t know which course to choose.


    Or if you do know but just want to wait 12 months before going, UCAS allows you to apply now and defer your start date by a year. This way you can get your results confirmed and hopefully receive an unconditional offer for the following year.


    Experience you gain while on a gap year can also make your CV stand out when you start applying for jobs.


    Employers could look at hundreds of applications, so offering something different will catch their eye.


    But the opposite is also true – if you choose to take a year out but don’t actively take part in anything then this can be viewed negatively by employers.


    Consider your options and long-term goals carefully and whether taking a gap year will benefit you later on. The UCAS website can point you in the right direction of some of the opportunities available if you decide this is the right move for you.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Funding your studies

    ONE of the biggest worries for students heading off to university is money. You need to finance your education and also ensure you have enough money to live on.


    Currently, universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can charge up to £9,250 a year for tuition to a student living in England.


    This comes after a new awards scheme was launched by the Government to monitor and assess the quality of teaching in England’s universities. They have to meet certain criteria to receive a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) award and those that do are able to increase their fees in line with inflation.


    Tuition fee loans are available as well as maintenance loans to help with living costs. Tuition fee loans are paid directly to the university. Interest is charged on the loan from the day you take it out.


    Maintenance loans can be applied for at the same time, lending you money at the start of each term and are re-paid in the same way as tuition fee loans.


    How much you receive depends on your household income and other factors such as where you study, how long for and where you are going to be living.


    When you are studying, the interest on your loan is the UK Retail Price Index (RPI) plus three per cent. After you graduate, the rate depends on how much you earn. You will not have to start paying your loans back until you are earning above £25,000.


    The Student Loans Company uses your National Insurance number to keep track of your income.


    They will instruct HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to notify your employer when you start working, and payments will be deducted from your taxable earnings. If your income falls below the starting threshold within a certain month, there won’t be a repayment deduction made for that month. Once the loan is paid off in full, HMRC notifies your employer and the repayments stop.


    The student finance application process normally opens in February so it’s recommended that you apply for funding in plenty of time to ensure your money is in place for the start of term.


    You don’t have to have a confirmed place at university before you apply and it’s advised that you should aim to apply for your loan by May 31 if your course starts between August 1 and December 31. The final deadline for funding is nine months after the start of the academic year for your course.


    Additional financial support is available for students on a low income, students with children or dependent adults, disabled students, medical, social work and teacher training students and students studying abroad.


    As soon as you have an offer for a place through UCAS you can talk to the banks about opening an account. The advantage of this is that student bank accounts normally have an interest-free overdraft facility which is useful if you accidentally overspend. This will usually be activated once your first instalment of loan goes in.


    There are websites that will allow you to compare the different student bank accounts on offer as there are often other perks such as railcards offered.


    Make sure to take one or two forms of photo ID such as a passport or driver’s licence along to the bank along with proof of address, such as a bank statement, and your UCAS offer letter.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Choosing your new home while studying

    AFTER you’ve selected your university and course, it’s time to decide where you want to live for your first year of studies. Do you prefer to be in halls of residence or rent a room in a private flat or house?


    Having somewhere comfortable and safe to call home during your studies will impact on your happiness and enjoyment so it’s crucial to spend time finding the right place.


    From on-campus university halls to private houses, there are plenty of options to consider.


    The cost nearly always comes into it but it is false economy to cut corners when it comes to choosing your first accommodation.


    Leaving home is a big move so you need to find somewhere you know you’re going to be happy.


    While sharing a flat or house with others may be a little scary, all first-year students are in the same boat, so you shouldn’t let this put you off. Most people who drop out of university do so in those first few months simply because they are lonely and feel isolated.


    Sharing with others is a great way to make new friends and if it’s university-owned accommodation then support and guidance, should you need it, is always close to hand.


    The types of accommodation on offer will vary depending on the location of your university but most will provide places for first-year students in their own halls of residence. These are usually furnished flats that you will share with other students, it might be mixed or single-sex accommodation. You will more than likely have your own bedroom, which may be en suite, as well as a shared kitchen and lounge area.


    Some halls have a catering service but many are self-catering, leaving it up to the students to provide their own meals.


    Halls of residence are great places to make friends and be part of the social scene.


    Some towns and cities will also have privately-owned halls which tend to be more luxurious with en-suite flats and great views. They are often located close to all of the town or city amenities and university buildings. Often handy perks such as Wi-Fi can be part of the package.


    A cheaper option can be renting a room in a private house, which gives you more independence. It also enables you to decide exactly where you live and also who you live with.


    Your university should have an approved list of landlords, so ask them for this before you start your search. Always take someone with you to view accommodation and do not rush to sign on the dotted line for the first one you see.


    With any of these options, make sure that you know when the rent needs to be paid so you can keep on top of bills. If your chosen university is within commuting distance then it might make more sense to stay living at home.


    This can be significantly cheaper but you need to take into consideration how much it will cost to travel to and from university before you decide whether it’s the right option for you. One downside to staying at home can be that you’re away from many aspects of student life, so it will require more effort to meet people.


    The UCAS website has other tips for choosing the right accommodation for you.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Tips to keep yourself and your stuff safe

    YOU’RE away from home for the first time with the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.


    But it also means that now you alone are responsible for your own safety and welfare. It’s also on you to ensure that all of your belongings are secure and not at any risk.


    There is so much going on at university and it can be easy to forget about staying safe – especially during those first hectic weeks where you’re focused on settling into a new chapter of your life. But simple precautions don’t cost much time or money and can help prevent your new- found freedom from being ruined.

    • Firstly, whenever you leave your room, even if it’s just for a few minutes, always lock your room door. You don’t want your belongings tempting an opportunist thief and it’s better to be safe than sorry so insurance is a good investment. You can make one payment a year to ensure everything in your room is covered.


    • When out and about, keep valuables, such as phones, purses and wallets, in an inside coat or bag pocket where they can be secured. Take advantage of on-campus lockers when using leisure and sports facilities.


    • Be careful at cash machines, check for signs of interference before using it and never accept a stranger’s help.


    • If you ever feel threatened while out and about set off a personal alarm – these are normally readily available at universities for either no or little cost. Then scream and shout before getting away as quickly as possible.Once you’re inasafe place, always call the police immediately.


    • When out jogging, try to go in pairs and in the daylight hours. It’s advisable  to pick a route that is familiar to you, and stick to main roads with well-lit pavements.


    • On a night out, keep an eye on how much you are drinking. The more you drink, the less aware you are going to be about what’s going on around you. It will also become harder to react properly to situations that become risky or dangerous. Eating before you go out and drinking plenty of water will also help you not to get too drunk. There is absolutely no need to feel embarrassed about ordering a soft drink or water when you’re inapub. Keep your wits about you and don’t fall victim to peer pressure. Make sure to watch your drink at all times, never leave it unattended when you go to the toilet or to dance. If you suspect you’ve had your drink spiked tell a bouncer or the bar staff so you can get help.


    • Always plan how you’re going to get to and from the bar or club. Do not get in the first cab you see – use the taxi services that are recommended to you by the university or Students’ Union because you know they will be licensed and safe. When the taxi arrives, check it is the one you called. Many universities will offer free shuttle buses back from popular venues after hours. 


    • Don’t let anyone walk home by themselves if you can help it, always stick together – the saying ‘there’s safety in numbers’ isn’t a myth. Going out in a group reduces the risk of any personal attack. If an incident does happen, report it to the police straight away and also let your university security team and welfare officers know as they are there to help.


    • Above everything, trust your instincts because they will usually be accurate. If something doesn’t feel right, then walk away.
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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Breaking the Ice and making new friends

    ONE of the biggest concerns for many new university students is making friends.


    Moving away from home and from the pals you’ve probably known for probably most of your life can be daunting. But the most important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat, and that means everyone is looking for a new friendship group.


    If you are in university accommodation, leave your door open while moving in. This will make it easier for people to approach you and will also mean you can see when everybody else arrives and be able to introduce yourself.


    These are the fellow students you will see every day, and while it’s not guaranteed they will automatically become firm friends, being friendly and approachable will make a big difference.


    Making everyone in your flat a cuppa or having some biscuits or chocolates to offer around can be a great way to break the ice. Whatever you do don’t just sit in your room by yourself, make sure you are giving yourself plenty of opportunities to make friends by attending activities around the campus.


    Whether it’s the kitchen or lounge,  spend time in the common rooms in your accommodation. Having a communal meal is a great way to get everyone out of their bedrooms and having fun together.


    There will be plenty of chances to meet other people through any clubs or societies you join. Joining clubs and societies at the start of university means you will have lots of chances to meet other like-minded people.


    Make sure to attend the Freshers’ Fair where all of the groups will be on hand to give you information about their activities. You can either continue with interests you already have, try something new or maybe even both.


    When you go to your first lecture make sure to say hello and introduce yourself to the people sat around you.


    Come up with some general questions to get people talking, such as what course are you doing or where do you come from?


    It may be difficult to take the plunge and start a conversation, but the person next to you will no doubt be feeling just as nervous. Rather than sitting in silence, be brave and be the one to make the first move. If it doesn’t work out, then sit somewhere different next time and try again.


    But don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t met your next best friend by the end of the first week, there is no set rule that says you have to make friends straight away.


    While a lot of people say that university friends are friends for life, this doesn’t mean they all met them during those first days. Give yourself time and friendships will slowly and naturally form.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Freshers Week Ideal time to find your feet

    FRESHERS Week is an exciting time for all students as it’sachance to settle into the university way of life before courses begin.


    It will be filled with a mix of social events and ice-breakers, fairs and important administrative tasks to complete.


    It is also a great opportunity to get to know your university and make new friends without the pressure of lectures and deadlines.


    The week is bound to include Freshers Fairs offering the chance for clubs and societies to promote themselves to first- year students.


    Don’t be afraid to try out a variety of activities even if you’re not sure it’s something you might like. Many groups will offer taster sessions for potential new recruits during the first few weeks of term. And you never know, something you never thought you would enjoy could end up being a life-long hobby.


    The fairs can also be a good place to pick up freebies ranging from pens and sweets to useful money-off vouchers for shops and restaurants – every little bit helps your student budget go further.


    Freshers Week can also be a good time to sample the local nightlife. Students’ Unions often organise special events aimed at helping first-years get to know each other. Many bars and clubs will also offer special promotions so it can be the cheapest time for a night out and also a way to bond with your flatmates.


    Make the most of this time before your lectures start fully and don’t hide away in your room all the time because you’ll be missing out on an important start to your days at university. 


    At the same time don’t push yourself to attend absolutely every social event – the main thing is that you finish the week feeling comfortable with your new environment.


    You will no doubt meet lots of people during Freshers Week, many of whom you’ll never speak to again, but some may become friends for life.


    If you are shy or worried about meeting new people, pick events where there’s actually something to do whether it’s table tennis or rock climbing. Focusing on an activity will help you to relax.


    Remember everybody is in the same boat so just start chatting with people, share interests and what you’re studying and see what happens. Freshers Week is also when you will likely need to take care of official things such as introductions to your course, tours of the campus to help you get your bearings and meeting your lecturers.


    It’s also the best time to register at the university health centre which is important to do, even if the queue is a bit off-putting, because you never know when you might need to see a doctor.


    If you are hoping to get a job to help fund your studies, then Freshers Week is often the time when job fairs are held to showcase the vacancies available on campus and in the surrounding area.


    While some students sail through Freshers Week without any problems, others will find adjusting to university life more difficult. Don’t worry you won’t be the only one experiencing homesickness or feeling anxious.


    There will always be someone you can talk to so don’t suffer in silence. Universities usually have staff or older students on hand to talk to first-years in need of a chat.


    Also it’s also worth remembering that it is only one week and there is no rule that says you have to make new friends or join clubs straight away. There is plenty of time to do all of this in the weeks and months ahead.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Boost your Budget with a part-time job

    FINDING a part-time job at university can provide you with both extra cash and beneficial work experience.


    It’s estimated that around eight out of 10 students work part-time to help fund their studies, whether it’s during term time, in the holidays or both. It can be a great way to top up your student loan so you have more money to live on and for having fun.


    Working to earn your own cash can teach you about money management and budgeting – the theory being that you will find it more difficult to part with your hard-earned money so will be less likely to waste it.


    A part-time job is another way to make friends while living away from home, so it can open up other social opportunities too. It can also provide you with vital work experience and it may be that you can find a job connected with your chosen career field.


    But even if you don’t, whatever role you pick will undoubtedly teach you transferable skills such as communication and using your own initiative.


    Also you’ll likely have to work as part of a team, equipping you with the skills needed to work with lots of different personalities.


    Thanks to your job you may also be exposed to working in a commercial environment – something employers may well be looking for, so it can help your CV stand out.


    Balancing your studies and a part-time job can be challenging but many students find a way to do it.


    Organisation is key so you can keep track of your shifts and commitments at university as well as important social events.


    Firms employing students are often flexible about hours because they know you are balancing your time. Be honest about what you can work and don’t put yourself under too much pressure by accepting shifts that could potentially clash with important lectures or seminars.


    Remember there are only 24 hours in a day, and seven days in a week, so don’t over-schedule yourself. Make sure you have time to relax and spend time with friends as well.


    Once you’ve decided a part-time job will fit in with your studies, visit the university jobshop.


    Most Students’ Unions will have one of these, offering a whole host of employment both on and off campus. Many will let you register online to receive updates on any new vacancies, from bar and cafe work, to shop assistants and tutoring.


    The run-up to Christmas can be a good time to find work as companies, especially those in the retail sector, will be taking on extra staff at this busy time of year.


    Holidays are alsoagreat time to make a bit of extra cash – but don’t forget to leave yourself time to recharge your batteries too.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Top Tips to make your money go further

    WHEN you’re a student you need to make that loan stretch as far as it can and take advantage of the array of discounts on offer.


    From accessing special offers on meals out, to clubbing together with flatmates to bulk-buy essentials, you can make your money go further.


    Firstly, an NUS Extra card is a gateway to lots of money-off deals. They are available for both students and apprentices and provide access to more than 200 UK student discounts.


    For one year you will also have an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) for free, unlocking over 42,000 international discounts. You can choose from a one-year card for £12, a two-year card for £22 or a three-year card for £32.


    Discounts are available for top brands such as 10 per cent off at the Co-op, 10 per cent off at ASOS, 10 per cent off at Forever 21, up to 40 per cent off at Pizza Express and 25 per cent off Odeon student-priced tickets.


    If you like going for meals out then you might want to consider getting the Gourmet Society bolt-on. This will enable you to enjoy two-for-one meals or up to 50 per cent off meals at around 7,000 top restaurants including big-name chains such as La Tasca, Bella Italia, Strada, Café Rouge, and Walkabout, plus thousands of local favourites, by showing your NUS Extra Gourmet Society card.


    It costs £7 for a 12-month membership, £12 for a two-year membership or £15 for a three-year membership. There are many other ways to save cash and keep on top of your finances.


    It may not sound like the most fun job but careful budgeting will help you to ensure your loan lasts the whole term.


    Divide your loan by the number of weeks you will need it to last and set yourself a weekly spending limit.


    When supermarket shopping, there are lots of good deals to be had. Take advantage of ‘value’ brands as these normally don’t taste very different from well-known brands. It’s usually cheaper to buy multi-packs such as a four-can pack of baked beans or 12 toilet rolls.


    You could always team up with your flatmates and divide the cost between you. Another tip from the NUS is to go to the supermarket at the end of the day. Often they reduce the price on products that are due to go out of date, including bread, which you can take home and freeze. It can be a good way to enjoy food such as fresh fish which you might not normally be able to afford.


    Planning your meals for the week can also help you save money and ensure you’re not tempted to go for a takeaway because you can’t think of what to cook that night.


    Textbooks can be a big expense so think carefully before splashing out for new ones. It might be tempting to buy all the books on your reading list, but you might want to wait and see which are essential. Those that you don’t need every day, you can get in the library.


    Most universities also have second- hand books available. Of course, used textbooks are much cheaper and you’ll probably be able to sell them on again once you’ve finished with them.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Get Cooking and eat well

    LIVING away from home means that your parents will no longer be providing you with tasty meals every night so you will need to cook for yourself.


    Students have long had a reputation for living on just Pot Noodles and beans on toast.


    But it doesn’t have to be that way. No, we don’t mean ordering in takeaways or eating out at restaurants, we mean learning to cook healthy meals which will work out cheaper and better for you in the long run.


    This is something you can do while you’re still living at home so you’re ready to fend for yourself.


    When you get to university, make sure to stock up on basics such as pasta, rice, chopped tomatoes, tuna, flour and sugar.


    Knowing you have these in the cupboard will make rustling something up each evening much easier and make a takeaway less tempting.


    Don’t be afraid to go for value brands as these can be just as good and all they might need is extra seasoning.


    It’s worth working out which sorts of spices and herbs you actually like as well, as you can add these to bring more flavour to your dish.


    To start with, get the hang of a few basic meals and leave the complicated stuff until you’ve gained more confidence.


    There are many websites and cookery books out there specifically aimed at students learning to cook for the first time. Even top chefs like Jamie Oliver have tailor-made recipes for school-leavers.


    Ask your parents for the recipes to some of your favourite family meals – you can even have a go at making these before you leave home. They will also be happy to teach you some basic skills, from how to boil an egg and cook rice, to how to make an omelette.


    Learn how to make a basic tomato sauce which you can then turn into a number of different dishes such as chilli con carne and chicken stew. You can simply add whatever meat and vegetables you fancy to the sauce and serve it up with pasta, rice, potatoes or couscous depending on what you’re in the mood for.


    One-pot meals are also good because they tend to be cheaper, can be frozen and don’t involve a lot of washing up. You can cook together meat and your favourite vegetables, or just the veggies and make a great-tasting dish.


    Cooking with friends and flatmates is a really good way to improve your skills in the kitchen. You can share your own family recipes or adapt them depending on each other’s different tastes.


    When planning meals, make sure you check sell-by dates and don’t buy more than you can use when it comes to foods with a limited shelf life. And remember, the more you cook, the better you’ll be at it. 




    Cut up a portion of raw chicken and coat with paprika. Cook inapan until brown. Cut up a ring of chorizo and pop it in when the chicken is almost cooked and add your choice of vegetables.


    Once the chicken is completely cooked, add paella, rice (risotto rice is also fine) and fry on low heat with the chicken, chorizo, and vegetables for around three minutes.


    While your rice is frying, make 1 litre of chicken stock (500ml per person). Add this to the pan after three minutes and leave the whole pan on a medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes.


    Once the stock is mostly gone, the paella is ready to serve!


    Pork Tagliatelle


    Cook four bundles of tagliatelle in boiling water. Add oil to a pan and fry a portion of stir fry pork.


    Once the pork is cooked, add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan. Also, add four tablespoons of lemon juice and two tablespoons of honey.


    Let this bubble while spooning the juices over the pork.


    Add cooked tagliatelle to mix with the sauce, and then it’s ready to serve!


    Orange Chicken


    Cook it a few times and figure out how much sauce you like, then adjust the ingredients accordingly.


    Add water to a saucepan of rice and allow to cook in the background.


    Add oil to a pan and fry chicken. While your chicken is cooking, make around 150ml of chicken stock. Once the chicken is cooked, add two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 150ml of orange juice and 150ml of chicken stock.


    Let this bubble while spooning the juices over the chicken.


    Turn the heat down and add one more tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of brown sugar, andastick of butter. Simmer for a few minutes and then serve over rice!

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    University not for you? There are alternatives

    IF you’ve decided that university isn’t the right choice for you but you’re still keen to continue in education then there are other options available.


    Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) can boost your career prospects and earning potential. They are also a great way to prepare for a career in a specific industry and lead directly to the workplace.


    Many students use the qualification as a stepping stone to an honours degree while they decide what to do next. These courses tend to focus on ‘learning by doing’ and are designed to meet the needs of employers. Both qualifications are provided by further and higher education colleges. HNCs take about one year to complete full-time and two years part-time. It is equivalent to the first year of a degree. HNDs take two years full-time and can also be taken part-time, which takes longer. This is the equivalent to two years of a degree.


    Both HNCs and HNDs can be very practical qualifications, so they do not just involve theory. There is also a financial advantage because the tuition fees are generally lower than degree courses. They also enable you to keep your options open as they allow you to start your degree at college, and then if you decide you like it, carry on to university.


    HNCs and HNDs tend to be assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks that you complete throughout the course. Both can be ‘topped up’ with extra studies at a later date in order to convert them to a full Bachelor’s degree. Some of the most popular HND courses available include accounting, business and finance, business management, civil engineering, construction, electrical engineering, graphic design, management, nursing, mechanical engineering and photography.


    According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 17 per cent of recent HND graduates studied business studies, while nine per cent studied computer science and eight per cent electrical and electronic engineering.


    Hospitality, leisure, sport, tourism and transport and general engineering were also popular choices.

    Students often have many opportunities to impress potential future employers. If you’re carrying out work experience alongside your studies, not only will you develop and hone the skills employers are looking for, but you’ll build contacts that could be useful in your job hunt. HND graduates have the advantage of gaining practical, specialised experience.


    There are also foundation degrees which areaqualification in their own right but can be ‘topped up’ to a full degree. They are great for students who are unsure ifadegree is for them. They can be a good stepping stone for people unsure of university and those who want to study part-time while working. They are equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree. Most are created with the help of employers to ensure they are teaching the relevant skills for the local area and are normally designed with and validated by a specific university.


    While the course will still involve academic study, there will also be practical work-related learning.


    Students can then complete the final year of the degree at the partner university.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Your Chance to make the right impression

    IT’S absolutely normal to be feeling both excited and nervous before attending your first job interview.


    It’s may seem easier said than done but it’s important that you don’t let those feelings disrupt your chance to shine.


    Your mind is probably working over time dreaming up all kinds of best and worst case scenarios of how it might go.


    To help it’s worth remembering that a little preparation can go along way and will help you feel more at ease when the big day finally arrives.


    You’ve probably heard your parents talk about the importance of making a good first impression.


    And one of the best ways to help yourself feel more confident and in control is to be prepared. Research everything you can about the company and what the role you have applied for entails.


    This may be something you’ve done already before submitting your application but it’s worth spending more time on this as you will be able to show at the interview that you fully understand what will be expected of you.


    Your arrival is your first chance to demonstrate your confidence and professionalism so make sure you allow plenty of time to get to the venue.


    If you are unsure how long it will take you to get there then do a trial run and allow extra time on top of that for the real thing in case of any traffic hold-ups or cancelled trains on the day.


    Always dress smartly – remember you will be seen before you are heard so make sure the way you are dressed is businesslike even if the employee dress code is casual.


    Take a moment to relax before entering the premises or interview room.


    Even if your stomach is full of butterflies, make sure you greet the interviewer confidently with a broad smile, strong handshake and an upright posture.


    When answering questions be confident in your skills and abilities when you are talking and make eye contact.

    If you do find yourself getting flustered, take a moment to gather your thoughts before continuing, they will expect you to be nervous.


    But whatever you do don’t answer any question with “I don’t know”, instead ask the interviewer to repeat the question or phrase it differently if you didn’t understand.


    Remember it is in both of your interests that you answer honestly and don’t exaggerate your skills and experience as this could come back to haunt you later.


    Beforehand prepareafew questions that you can ask about the role and the firm you are hoping to work for as this demonstrates your interest in the position.


    Finally, try to end the interview on a positive note – this could be quickly summing up why you would be a valuable addition to the team. And don’t forget it’s only one interview, there will always be other opportunities if you miss out.

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  • 21/05/2021 0 Comments
    Online learning may be the right route

    ONLINE distance learning can be a convenient option for those who want to work towards a degree but also want to start earning by getting a full-time job.


    Students are totally free to organise how and when they study making it the most flexible higher education option.


    More than 270,000 undergraduate students are currently taking their first degrees via distance learning. Materials are sent directly to the student or accessed via the internet and tutorial support is provided via electronic means such as Skype and email.


    This way of learning enables you to fit a full degree around your personal and work life. While it also doesn’t matter where you live because you can gain a degree from anywhere in the world. You can also study undergraduate, postgraduate and professional level courses all via distance learning.


    One advantage is that a distance learning course often costs less than a full-time face-to-face degree course with students usually offered a ‘pay as your learn’ option rather than paying the full course fees at the start.


    The majority of UK undergraduate students study with the Open University with courses covering a range of subjects from arts to science and everything in between.


    Students can use these to build a range of qualifications that include certificates of higher education, diplomas of higher education, foundation degrees or honours degrees.


    Tutors mark assignments, provide detailed written feedback, and offer support to students by telephone, email, or computer conferencing.


    But many universities up and down the country now offer distance learning programmes too. They all work hard to ensure they are of the same high quality as campus-based programmes.


    Staffordshire University, for example, says online distance learning students will be expected to spend two evenings per week and a weekend afternoon studying.


    Officials say they have the same status as any student on campus but there’s no need to come on to campus. Also, they will be given deadlines like other students on campus but are able to manage their time leading up to assessments to work around what suits them best.


    Those enrolled can access lectures, recordings and course material online whenever it suits them and they can study wherever they are. Then, once they’ve finished, they can celebrate their graduation with everyone else.


    At most universities, online distance learning courses still follow the standard semester calendar with, usually,astart date in September.


    Applications need to be submitted directly to the university or college, rather than going through UCAS.


    The downside to this style of learning is that some people can find it lonely and isolating because you are not meeting your fellow course mates regularly.


    However, the programmes often include day schools or residential weekends where you work with other students on a specific project.


    These can be followed by continued contact with the team as you work together, and result in another residential where results are presented and assessed.

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