So, what’s uni really like? Have you heard it’s endless parties, traditionally academic subjects, only for 18-year-olds…?
Deciding your next steps after school or college can be a little daunting. That’s why we want to sort the myths from the truths about what uni life is really like.
Read on for true insights into life at uni, as we answer some of our most commonly received questions.
“You have to be rich to go to university”
It’s no secret that going to university is expensive. And we’ve all seen tuition fees make the headlines over the years. However, what you might not know is that there’s a huge range of financial support available for students to make sure that university is an option for everyone – with extra support available for students from lower-income households.
This online student finance guide, by Which? gives a great summary of all things student finance.
It covers topics like:
- what kind of costs you’ll need to cover
- which loans, bursaries and grants you could be eligible for
- how much you’ll have to pay back each month once you’re in employment (and earning over a certain amount)
- at what point your outstanding student loan debt gets wiped (most students don’t actually end up paying off the full loan before it’s wiped)
“You’re a ‘lone wolf’ at university”
It’s completely natural to feel a little nervous about making new friends at university or knowing where to turn if you need support. But there’s no need to worry. Every university has a Student Support department with multiple teams of staff and students on-hand to help.
Services are confidential and include so many elements, from counselling and wellbeing support to financial advice and even library assistance.
Most Student Support departments reach out to new students around the time you’re about to enrol. It’s great reassurance because it means you’ll know exactly how and where to get support once you start, whatever the time of day.
If you’d like to know more about the Student Support available at different universities, browse their websites and search for ‘student support’. Researching what kind of support they offer might even help you to decide which university feels right for you.
“You have to move away to go to university”
Another myth! It’s a completely personal choice as to whether you’d like to move away for university or stay local to home. Neither is ‘better’ than the other – there are pros and cons to each. Your personal preferences and circumstances are the important factors, so do what feels best for you.
Read our recent blog for tips on how to choose between studying at home or moving away.
“You won’t have time to work and study”
Studying at university requires a lot of commitment and can feel quite intense at times. However, with good time management, you will still have time to have a part-time job. Many students do.
Working while studying comes with lots of benefits. Aside from the extra income, it can help develop your organisational skills and it’s another great opportunity to meet new friends.
“You need A-Levels to get into university”
Again, another untruth. Historically, gaining three A-Levels was the traditional route to getting into university. But now, there are various routes that can gain you a place.
This summary from The Uni Guide describes the different types of qualifications that universities will accept, including A-Levels, BTECs, Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers, Welsh Baccalaureate and International Baccalaureate.
The Access to Higher Education Diploma is another route offered by colleges in England and Wales to enable you to gain a place at university.
“You can’t go to university if you have a disability”
This isn’t true either. There are lots of students with disabilities who study at university. Every university offers dedicated disability support services. You can look these up on university websites or ask staff about them when you attend a university Open Day.
You might be interested in reading these insights from Helen, who’s a Disability Adviser at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Or read Brad’s story for a student’s perspective on what it’s like going to university with a disability.
And watch our video by Alice, a disabled student at Canterbury Christ Church University.
“You need to be an A* student to go to uni”
Quite simply, no you don’t. Entry requirements differ from course to course and from university to university. Some courses will require higher grades than others, or they might ask for a specific qualification type, but most courses accept different types and grades of qualifications.
The best way to work out what kind of grades you’ll need to achieve at college to gain a place at uni, is to visit the course web pages for the universities that you’re interested in and look up what kind of entry requirements they have listed for each course. If anything’s not clear, the university admissions teams are always on-hand to answer any questions you might have about entry requirements and how to apply, so do email them or give them a call.
A lot of courses will list their entry requirements in terms of tariff points (which is where qualification grades are converted into numeric points). Read this UCAS summary to learn how it works.
“You have to like drinking and clubbing to go to uni”
Nope, this isn’t the case. Of course, there will be some students who want to party – a lot. But there are many other social activities you can take part in at uni that don’t involve alcohol.
Every university has a Students’ Union (SU), and every SU has a whole range of student clubs and societies that you could join. From chess and cosplay to cheerleading and debating – you’ll be surprised at just how many hobbies or interests you could develop during your time at uni.
Lots of universities also host a calendar of alcohol-free events and some even have alcohol-free societies that you can join.
“All students go to university at 18”
A lot of students will go straight from school or college to university at the age of 18, but not all. Many students instead choose to take a gap year before they start university – either to travel, volunteer or gain some work experience, for example – meaning they’re 19 when they start their university course.
Others are mature students (21 years and above), who have decided to return to education later in life. In fact, thousands of mature students start university every year. So, if you’re worried that you’ll be older than 18 when you start university, don’t be. You’ll meet lots of other people in the same position, and in many ways, you’ll notice the benefits of being older and having more life experience.
Watch our video by Tania, a mature student at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA).
“Uni is only for traditional/academic subjects like English or History”
This is a very outdated myth. There are lots of universities offering a wide range of contemporary, more vocational subjects that involve hands-on training (and not just academic theory). Browse the UCAS site and different university sites to get a feel for which providers offer more career-focused/practical subjects, such as Business, Engineering, Health and more, as well as the traditional subjects, like History or Mathematics.
We’re here to help
We hope this blog has been useful to you in separating the truths about uni from the myths. If you have any further questions at all, please feel free to get in touch with our team.