October 2022

How to prepare for university over the summer

Some tips and tricks on how to prepare for university over the summer including; finance, accommodation and back up plans.
  1. Have the finance conversation. For a lot of people, university might be the first time we’re in charge of looking after our finances and spending. The summer before university is a perfect opportunity to start learning increasing your financial awareness. It's also a great time to start having conversations with your family or planning how you will fund your university costs. This can look different for everyone, whether that includes applying for student finance, scholarships or opening a student bank account and creating a budget. A lot of first-year students who I've spoken to emphasise the importance of doing this as early as you can so don't wait until the last day of August! 
  2. Book your accommodation as early as possible if you're planning to move out. If you're attending university away from home and will need to move out, start looking at the different accommodation options open to you. It's useful to have a look at this even before you have to book a room so that you can have an idea of prices, sizes and the types of rooms available. If you'd like to do even more research, see if you can find any virtual or 360 accommodation tours or any useful YouTube videos! 
  3. Attend a virtual offer holder day. These days are so helpful to hear exactly what you need to do in preparation for starting university and often include department-led sessions. From an offer holder day, you can expect anything from department talks, pre-reading lists, advice from current university students and much more. Another amazing benefit (if you're not convinced yet) is that you get to meet other students who you'll be studying alongside soon! 
  4. Speak to current first-year students and ask them about their advice for handling academics, friendships, work or work experience- basically the whole university experience. Talking to people who have gone through the experience you'll be going through soon can provide you with helpful insights so you can learn from other people's mistakes as well! Of course, it’s important to remember that everyone’s experience at university will be unique so be careful not to try to replicate other people’s     journeys! 
  5. Come up with a plan B and a plan C if possible. Things don't always go to plan which is absolutely fine but that can be really difficult if you don't have a secondary plan at all. When it came up to my A-Level results day in August 2020, the uncertainty of the year did heighten my anticipation of the results and one way I was able to calm myself down was by writing down a list of 5 potential avenues if my plan A didn't work out. Interestingly enough, the very last thing on my list which I never thought would happen is exactly what happened: I ended up on a gap year. However, as the saying goes: sometimes not getting what you want is the most wonderful stroke of luck (that’s roughly the saying!). 

As a bonus point, I'd really recommend you make some goals for university. Everyone has different priorities at university and it's helpful to know what you want out of this experience. For some people, it might be career-focused, for some people it's academia based or revolves around their personal and social growth. Either way, I'd recommend thinking about what you want out of the process both academically, personally and professionally. I've started making my 'first-year' bucket list and this includes all the activities I'd like to do during this year which are not related to my degree because variety is key! 

If you're heading off to university this year, have you started planning or preparing? What would be on your 'bucket list' for first year? 

Let’s talk about Resilience and Rejection  

According to the dictionary, resilience is defined as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.’ The type of difficulty can vary massively but today, we’ll focus on recovering from rejection. I don’t know about you but getting constant ‘I am sorry to inform you that you were not successful’ emails can be quite discouraging. However, whether it’s in application season, at school or just in life, resilience is an important skill and thankfully it’s one that we can develop as we continuously pick ourselves up from setbacks.  

What are some simple and practical ways to develop resilience after a rejection? 

Gratitude and perspective 

I strongly believe that these two are linked because remembering what you’re grateful for gives you room for perspective. After facing a setback or a rejection, our tendency might be to immediately think that everything is going wrong or that we are never successful at anything. In these moments, remind yourself of previous wins and the things that you are grateful for. It might be useful to do this exercise more regularly (on a weekly basis for example) in order to keep remembering the things, people or situations we are grateful for. So right now, I encourage you to write down 3 things that you are grateful for this week.  

Take a break

Resting and taking time off are some of the best ways to refresh yourself and regain motivation to try again. Doing the same thing over and over again without any breaks or changes can make the action incredibly repetitive. If you’ve been applying for some work experience for example and haven’t been successful so far, take a break from applying. During your time off, do some other activities that you enjoy and refresh you. After your break, think about why you want to get work experience or why you want a part-time job and use that as motivation to try again.  

Ask for feedback 

You’ve returned from your break, you’ve yourself why and now before you move on, it’s important to face failure or disappointment one more time, but this time- to learn from it. Receiving feedback helps us to know exactly where we went wrong and exactly how we can improve the next time. I recently got rejected for a programme I applied for and I asked for some feedback. The organisation was incredibly helpful and provided me with some clear and useful feedback. I was able to see which parts of the application process I did really well in and the other areas in which I didn’t. This feedback will help me in the future when applying for similar opportunities.  

Get some inspiration 

After a rejection, it’s easy to convince yourself that you are the only people who ever got rejected. Wrong. This is why listening to other people’s stories can be so encouraging as it reminds us that we’re not alone in this process as failure is often part of achieving success. I’d recommend talking to people around you about how they’ve dealt with rejection in the past, listening to a podcast or watching an inspiring YouTube video on the topic. I particularly love listening to inspiring podcasts and hearing other people’s journeys, especially whilst doing mundane activities such as washing the dishes.  

Try again 

The last thing to do is to simply try again, apply for a different leadership position at your school or another work experience opportunity. However, remember that this time, you’re not starting all over again or starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience and because you’ve asked for feedback, you’re starting from an experience you’ve learnt from.  

As a bonus point (because I love these!) - remind yourself that you can do it even if it’s difficult. Our ability to conquer challenges increases as we grow and experience various things. Whilst I absolutely believe in making it as easy as possible for yourself to apply for that position, for example, trying again might be hard. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it! 

 Let me know in the comments, if you’ve ever dealt with rejection and how you bounced back from it? If you’d also like some inspiration through hearing other people’s journeys to help build your resilience, then do have a listen to the new think HER ambition podcast!   

Written by bloss.m team