STEP 1: PLANNING Planning ahead is key when it comes to getting into university. This may be something you have been working towards for years or an idea that has only just come into your head. However, you need to try and figure out what you want to do with your life as it is vital that you do what is best for you. There may be a career you have wanted to do since you were little or something that has taken your interest as you have grown up, now is the time you really need to consider putting it into action. Look into what sort of qualifications you need for your dream job- is there a particular subject you need a degree in or is it more open? Can you go there and train straight from college? These are essential questions and are things that you should start looking into as early as possible.

 If you know what you want to do then that’s great and you should try and take the next step towards achieving your goal: work experience. It may sound boring and unnecessary, of course it is not essential, but doing some work experience in the career than you want to go in to will really open your eyes. It may turn out it was all you had ever hoped it would be, or you may not be so keen on it after all. The important thing is that you now know and so can either be content that you have found your calling in life or can look into other options.

It might seem a little tricky to get work experience in what you want to do but there is always a way around it. Want to be a judge but don’t think you’d be allowed to try it? Go and have a tour of some court rooms instead and perhaps try and visit a law firm for a few days. Want to be a nurse but not allowed to be let loose on the wards? Have a tour around a hospital and volunteer to help out with reading to children or at an old people’s home. There is always something you can try so why not give it a go? To gain a placement you will need to write in to the company or place you want to work. Structure it similarly to the Covering Letter (In the Job Section) only tell the person why you want to do a placement, what qualities you have that make you think you’ll be good at it and what you plan to do as a follow up (i.e. ‘I would like to do a degree specialised in journalism but feel that I don’t know enough about the field to be completely sure it is what I want to do with my life. I feel that if I had a placement with a local newspaper for a week I would be able to be sure that the career was suited for me and that I could be successful at it.’)

Doing absolutely anything that relates to the subject that you want to study is a great way to stand out from amongst all the applicants and shows that you know that the subject is right for you and that you won’t just give up. It also suggests responsibility as you have already begun taking steps towards your career and are getting yourself out into the world. If you are not sure what you want to do as a career then have a look in the careers library at your local Connexions centre and maybe try and get some experience based around something you find there.

Back all of this up with visits to universities you are interested in if they have open days during the summer. This way you will have more of an idea of the sort of thing you are applying for when it come to making your choices, and also have plenty of time to find a university where you will be happy. You might decide that university isn’t for you after all and so can look into apprenticeships or other courses of action after university. It is your future that you will be investing in by doing this so isn’t it worth it?

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