So, you’re beginning your big year of decision making. And so many decisions to make!
I was in your position three years ago; I lived with my extended family in a village in the South Wales valleys and was studying Sociology, English Literature, Drama Studies and the Welsh Baccalaureate at A Level; all through the medium of Welsh. Today I am in my final year of studying for a BSc. Degree in Sociology at the University of Bath.
The last three years have gone so quickly but I remember how stressful it was at the time when deciding what to study and where. For me, I found it useful as a starting point to follow the advice and guidance out there. I knew I wanted to study a subject which I enjoyed even though I wasn’t sure what type of work I wanted to do. I was also unsure of studying in English because my whole education had been through the medium of Welsh.
Draw up a shortlist
Having decided on Sociology, I drew up a (very long!) shortlist based on the usual factors such as rankings, student satisfaction, living costs etc. It wasn’t practical to visit each place on my shortlist so I started visiting the university websites. The two things which helped most were reading the departmental pages and the student feedback about the course and university life. Both these things helped narrow down my choices. Attending the open days was then key to making my final decision. Meeting lecturers and speaking to students on the same course gave me a real feel for the University, it’s hard to explain but I genuinely felt like I would be happy living there! Being happy living at Bath has definitely helped me make the most of my time here.
Remember to showcase your extra-curricular!
Having made my decision I then knew what was needed to achieve my goal, which helped me focus on my studies and helped with writing my personal statement. I was keen to use the personal statement to show that I had gained transferable skills from my activities outside of school which would help with my attitude and approach to university study. I now realise that those extra -curricular skills have played a big part in helping me adapt to life at university. Honestly, when my results came through and Bath offered me a place – I panicked! How would I manage living and studying in England!? What was I thinking?
My panic, however, was short-lived in the whirlwind of preparation for the move and as it turns out, unfounded! Yes, I was nervous, but so was everyone else! I would highly recommend engaging with the university from day one – they do so much to prepare you and ensure that you have the necessary information and support to make the transition go smoothly. Make the most of Freshers week, join any clubs/societies which interest you and enjoy!
Top tip for degree prep: If like me, you plan on applying to an English university, and have chosen to carry on studying a subject you’ve previously studied through the medium of Welsh, start to read around the subject in English too – there is nothing more frustrating than knowing you understand a topic, but having to explain it using terminology in a different language!
Make the most of all the opportunities and support that are out there for you. Enjoy, and best of luck!