Navigating the University minefield

Over the next few weeks, an estimated 275,000 new students will head off to University for the first time. In our blog this month, we’ve looked at the issue of University fees and how you can help your child or grandchild financially while they are studying.

Our Practice Manager is currently in the same position as thousands of other parents with her daughter currently researching the higher education opportunities that are available. So, we asked Nikki to share her thoughts on ‘the University minefield’…

Where has the time gone? It only seems like yesterday I waved my eldest daughter off on her first day at school… roll on 13 years and she is now applying for Universities!

What a minefield it is. There’s so much to consider, including

  • Researching Uni websites
  • Making sense of league tables
  • Arranging to visit on Open Days
  • Getting advice from friends and family
  • Trying to understand government websites on funding

Where to study, how much it will cost, what support is available… so many questions!

Since I can remember, my daughter has always wanted to be a doctor – and more specifically a paediatrician – so she has been working towards this for the last four years.

In June this year, we visited our first Uni on their Open Day, followed by three more over the last three months, with one more to go.

Each visit involved her looking at the medicine and student facilities while I looked at the accommodation and listened to talks on funding and what financial support will be needed.

We both have different questions, anxieties and concerns each to reach the same goal:

Hers Mine
  • What grades do I need/will I get those grades?
  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Service application (UCAS)
  • Personal Statements
  • UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)
  • Best Uni for the course I want to study
  • How far away from home do I want to be?
  • Making friends
  • Arranging accommodation
  • Do I need to get a part-time job/will I have time to work and study?
  • Will I have time for a social life?
  • How far away from home do I want her to be?
  • How much is it going to cost her in loans?
  • What are the grants available/where do I find this information?
  • Costs to fund her monthly living expenses
  • Costs of accommodation
  • Will she be eating ok?
  • Will she make friends and have a study/social life balance?

We are now in a position where the UKCAT tests have been completed, her personal statement is finished and her UCAS application is nearly ready to be sent (medicine students must apply by 15th October 2019).

Once the applications are in, it’s then round two of interviews with the Unis that will potentially offer her a place – so we’re likely to be up and down the motorways of England once more! And I’ll then be looking at accommodation costs and how to fund her five years at Uni.

I know I will look back on this experience with fond memories of us starting this journey together, but until she leaves in September 2020, the minefield continues. Of course, by the time my youngest daughter starts applying, I will be an expert…!