Living at home while studying at university, sounds boring doesn’t it?! You might think it means not as many friends or not a big social life. As a stay at home student myself, I’ve lived to tell the tale, and boring isn’t the case. In fact, I would describe my first year at university as quite the opposite – fun.
The process of writing an application can be daunting, but it’s all about seeking opportunities which will develop your skillset and enhance your CV. Thinking about jobs is often scary, but it is important to gain experience which sets you apart from future candidates. Remember – you don’t need to know what you are going to be doing in ten years’ time, just arm yourself with experience and skills to widen your opportunities later on.
During my time at UWE Bristol I’ve worked as a Student Ambassador, volunteered for a charity and recently started working as a Student Content Coordinator. For all of these, I’ve had to complete an application to be shortlisted and it got me thinking, what makes a good job application?
I’ve rounded up the top tips which have helped me in the past that I hope will help you with your next application too!
Decide where and what to search for
Since studying at UWE Bristol, I found the UWE Job Shop and Infohub Vacancies valuable tools when trying to find volunteering and work experience opportunities. The site offers a range of vacancies which will enhance your knowledge and employability. I found a volunteering vacancy as a Social Media Coordinator at Sue Ryder, which allowed me to explore an area I had little experience in, but always wanted to try. I discovered that the position held more responsibilities than I had anticipated but led me down more avenues to explore.
But what if you don’t know what to apply for?
Identify your skills to you find the right role for you
If you identify what you enjoy doing and what you are good at, you will discover an umbrella of paths to explore. By researching these key skills, you will find out what job titles surround your interest and abilities – which will create a direction for your job hunt.
Once you’ve found an opportunity try to understand the role
Once you find a role which interests you, ensure you understand what the advert is asking of you. Are there particular skills or qualities the job requires?
Make a list
of what the job requires and make a list of examples of when/how you have done
this. Source key skills you have exercised on your degree, for example, communication,
team work and time management. By doing this you will uncover core transferable
skills which are crucial for all jobs. Never under estimate the experience
and qualities you have, as everything you do holds significant value.
Learn about the company you are applying to
When completing an application, it is important that you show a level of understanding and knowledge of the establishment you are applying to. What do you like about the company?
Showing that you have an interest and an awareness of the company will demonstrate initiative and engagement, which counts for a lot!
Remember, there is no harm in trying and there is nothing to lose when applying to jobs. Even if you don’t get the role, it’s all good experience so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and keep working towards your end goal.
After successfully completing my undergraduate degree I was keen to begin a career in publishing. But after a summer of job hunting I realised that although my degree was beneficial, I needed more for my chosen career. I also had to take into consideration as a Tier 4 international student the job requirements for me are different to local students.
I chatted my options through with my parents and decided, quite last minute, to apply for a postgraduate degree in marketing at UWE Bristol. Because I applied late in the summer I didn’t have a chance to fully explore what postgraduate student life at UWE might be like. Even though I had lived in the area for a while and had a lovely group of friends, I was still worried about how I might fit in.
I also knew that doing a postgraduate degree was going to be a bigger commitment and it would be more intense than undergraduate. Looking back, this has been true, but my lecturers have been really supportive, which has made the transition from UG to PG much easier. For example, when I started the course we had a two day session with our tutors to understand how the course would work and who to contact. We also did a short exercise which gave us a great grounding in the course.
That said, we all need a bit more support from time to time and at the start of year I had a few issues, so I contacted the wellbeing team at UWE. The people there were so understanding and offered me resources and advice about my mental health, as well as how I could manage it whilst doing my degree. This was a refreshing change from the inconsistent support I received from my previous institution and I felt like I could really rely on UWE to help me when I needed it!
I’ve also found Bristol itself to be really welcoming. I recently attended Bristol Pride and it was a glorious event! As a queer student born and raised in a conservative environment and still trying to find their place in the world, it was an incredible thing to experience. Bristol’s queer scene has personally been one of the best ones I’ve been a part of. I know from experience that there aren’t many places as welcoming and open-minded as Bristol.
As I move closer to graduating, I’m now starting to think about my career prospects and job opportunities again and I definitely feel like I am better prepared now. I’ve also started making enquiries with the international student careers team who I’m planning on meeting with soon to discuss the next steps and work through some of the issues I’ve had before.
During my first year at university I lived in Quantock Court in the Student Village on Frenchay Campus. Before I moved to UWE however I remember having quite a few questions about what my accommodation would look like so hopefully my blog and vlog will help give you the answers you need if you’re deciding or have already got accommodation confirmed!
In your room you have a bed, closet space, desk and en-suite (some accommodation options have shared bathrooms). The desk is a good enough size to fit all the essentials and if you are like me you can also fit your printer and two monitor screens as well as the normal space for writing. You also have shelves above your desk for books or personal belongings. Overall it’s a nice little room which is big enough for one person.
If you’re living in the Student Village you will be living with 6 other people and sharing the communal area. This area includes a kitchen and living/ socialising area. The kitchen has an oven, kettle, toaster and sink. Each person has a cupboard for their own thing as well as there being enough room for pots and pans. Some accommodation options have sofas in the social area and others have individual chairs, but either way it’s a nice space to socialise in and there’s plenty of room for everyone.
I hope this gives you a good idea of what to expect if you’ve chosen the Student Village as your accommodation or if you are still making your minds up.
Clearing sounds very scary, doesn’t it? Of all the thoughts running around in the build up to results day, the thought of clearing may be overwhelming. The thought I might not get to go to the University I had chosen scared me, but it shouldn’t especially if you get prepared beforehand.
In the run up to exams, I began to have a change of mind towards which subject I would be studying at university. I always thought it would be History, but after a set of good coursework results in Media Studies I began to think about studying that instead. I proceeded to ask my teacher for support and she pointed me in the right direction and gave me some courses to look at. By results day I was practically certain that Media was in fact, the subject for me.
What to do on results day
Soon enough results day came but upon looking at my results, I panicked and was filled with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. My mum suggested I speak to my tutor, who then took me in to her office to discuss my options and to talk about what I wanted to do. Teachers and other staff members are a really good resource when it comes to clearing, they’ve been through this a billion times before and can guide you to all the right places. I must have spent at least an hour in there before reaching a decision.
Why UWE Bristol?
UWE Bristol was always an option as it was where my mum had studied and she always raved about it. UWE Bristol had a good reputation and after looking at their course for History online I found the modules really interesting. Their online clearing process was easy to navigate and very helpful, in comparison to the other university I was looking at which was unhelpful and kept redirecting me to different phone lines. This made my decision so much easier, and I began to think that although this was different to the experience I was expecting, the course was sounding even better than the one I originally wanted to study. It then began to set in that I was going to UWE Bristol and I felt proud, to do so. Clearing had set my mind at ease.
My top tips for clearing
Firstly you should fully research universities and courses beforehand, this is in case you don’t get the results you want as it’s good to know what options are out there and have a few back-ups.
I would check UCAS track prior to going to collect results, this should prepare you for the outcome and can help you understand whether you need any assistance.
You should check your school or college opening times and I would recommend going sooner rather than later. This way it will be easier to make use of the help at hand and if you are unsure of anything it’s definitely worth asking a teacher or another member of staff.
It might also be worth bringing a parent, friend or someone else along with you for support.
Finally I would also recommend getting lots of sleep before, and trying not to worry, worrying will not change the outcome!
I would stress that you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t get your first choice. Clearing can be a really helpful tool that can offer a number of possibilities. Not getting your first choice might initially seem disappointing, but you shouldn’t let it write off your future, there are still numerous possibilities that can shape your life for the better.
So, we’re assuming you’ve clicked on this blog post because you need a little bit more guidance on how to apply for university, right? Well, that’s very wise as the whole application process can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re amongst lots of students across the world trying to make the same good impression.
To start you off, here are 7 tips to ease the blow of UCAS applications. Keep these in the back of your mind so you can write a personal statement worth reading!
1. Research, research research!
A crazy amount of applications are submitted each day, and tutor’s sixth sense can always pick up when someone has made the effort to research the course they’re wanting to study for the next few years. So, go to the websites of your university choices and read the course information to know what they’re looking for— it’ll help you in the long run for specifics!
2. Pick the necessary
Mentioning your cat and how he has two different coloured eyes might be great for interview conversation, but won’t really be much of an incentive for your course leaders to accept you for September, especially when you’re applying for a Maths degree. Choosing relevant and necessary information makes an easier read, and helps you to present a better image of yourself.
3. Promote yourself
Think about it — 1000s of applications a day, hours dragging on, and the pile’s only getting higher. How do you show yourself off even though they haven’t met you yet? Add some personality and tell them why they should choose you! If you’ve run a club at school or sixth form, tell them. If you won an award in your chosen subject, tell them. If you took a gap year and went travelling with charities or did volunteer work, tell them. If you’ve done extra-curricular activities to get more experience in your chosen subject, tell them. This is your chance to get their attention!
4. Check ur spilling miscakes and grammer?
This one is the most tedious but it really goes without saying. You’ll definitely need a second and even third pair of eyes to go through your application and check for mistakes, but your spelling, punctuation and grammar are actually very key. No ‘LOL’s, ‘TBH’s or anything like that this time around, keep it professional. If you need help with these things, never be afraid to ask your peers and teachers — it’s what they’re here for!
5. Get to the point
You know when you ask someone a fairly simple question and they take ages to answer it? Yeah. It can be very easy to write the first things that come to your head and before you know it, you’ve reached your word limit. Try your best to not be that guy. Your question is “Why should we choose you for this course?” Enjoy yourself whilst you answer it!
6. Make sure your referee has your back!
The last thing you need after you’ve poured your heart out about your talents and grades is a referee that begs to differ. Choosing the right person to write your reference is also very key to submitting a successful application. They need to have enough belief in your future in order to write the truth that’ll help convince admission that you’re worth the place!
7. Keep your eye on the clock and deadlines
We’d hate for you to put all that hard work and effort in for your application to not be looked at in time. The same way you set time for homework, coursework and Love Island, take time out of your day to focus on your application.
It can feel like the work will never end, and can sometimes even be a struggle to complete but if you utilise the help around you, you’ll get it done in no time. Now, go and show them why you deserve to study in September!
I work as a student ambassador at UWE Bristol, and the most frequently asked question from both students and their parents is “did you make friends easily here”, and of course the answer is yes. Its hard not to with everything UWE Bristol provides and supports with, from social areas, to funding, to the 140 plus societies. Having a social life is not something you need to worry about when you’re at UWE Bristol.
Is sport a good way to make friends?
For the athletic type, sports is by far the best way for making bonds with others at university and so I would advise you to sign up for as many sessions as possible. Even if you don’t know whether you will be any good.
The variety at UWE Bristol allows for anyone who might want to be part of a sports team to try something new. Sports vary from motor sport, to paintball to gymnastics, alongside the big sports like American Football.
There are loads of people that haven’t done certain sports before so you won’t be alone and there are many free activities and taster sessions to try during your first few weeks.
What other societies can I get involved in?
Don’t worry if you’re not into sports as there are loads of other societies to choose from which have an equally great social atmosphere with a little less sweat. Nearly all societies are keen for new members and with weekly meet ups they are a great way for forming social groups.
Societies like the cocktail making society are known for generating a large number of student members, for obvious reasons, but create fantastic opportunities to make friends with others you wouldn’t come into contact otherwise with your university life.
In short, joining a society is a great way to make friends. Don’t feel like you need to follow a crowd though, by all means give everything a try but don’t hide away from what you want. The beauty of UWE being so big is that you will find likeminded people who are passionate about the very same thing you are, so just be yourself. Whether you prefer to talk about sport, politics, anime or all of the above you have no excuse to not find others who are the same.
However, don’t feel like you must search for a social life solely through the societies here at UWE Bristol. Events at the SU and most notably during freshers week are a great way to mingle, grab a drink and get to know people.
How can social media help me connect with others?
Once you have made those initial connections and the joys of freshers have faded, the next thing will be maintaining them as you get on with other aspects of university life and study. One good practice comes through the form of group chats. Just making and joining chats allowing you to access friend circles is great to have. Facebook groups are also great in regard to finding people and events. When moving in there will always be chats that allow you to find your flat mates as well as the group pages and hidden society pages (which you will be invited to) will allow you to attend all kinds of events. Social media is another great way for maintaining a social group at UWE and by following the main handles of the university you can keep up to date with upcoming events.
How joining in helped me make friends
Personally, I took up a sport (American Football) which I had never played before with a group I never met before and by the end of 8 months I feel like I not only have friends but a brotherhood of which I belong to.
Joining a society is a great way to make friends. The opportunities are everywhere and all you have to do is take them and be yourself.
I came to this university knowing only one other student on a different course and its nothing to be intimidated about. The frame work of both subjects and Fresher’s enables you to have more people around you than you can remember in no time and you really don’t have to go actively searching for people either. The opportunities are everywhere and all you have to do is take them and be yourself.
As a student, one of the most daunting aspects of moving to university is money. For most people, the maintenance loan given by the government leaves little room for extra expenditures such as going out for food or buying new clothes. One way to improve this is to budget and spend wisely.
I began studying at UWE in September 2018 and quickly realised that I needed to budget in order to make my maintenance loan last for the entire year! This blog will give a few top tips which will hopefully have a huge effect on the amount of money that you will spend, and save, throughout your studies whilst also enjoying the student life!
1. Choose accommodation with shared bathrooms
At UWE, there are many different accommodation options depending on how much you wish to spend and whether or not you would prefer an ensuite or a shared bathroom. For my first year at University, I lived in UWE’s Wallscourt park on Frenchay Campus in a flat with shared bathrooms. In my flat, I shared 3 bathrooms with 8 people. Although many people do not want to share a bathroom, it really isn’t as bad as you might think. Because there were 3 different bathrooms to use, even if your usual bathroom is being used, you can just use a different one! By staying in Wallscourt Park with shared bathrooms, I saved approximately £1000 when compared to my friends who stayed in rooms with an ensuite bathroom. This is a serious amount of money when you are trying to budget!
2. Shop wisely
When starting out at university, I had never really gone for a weekly food shop before. With many different shops around Frenchay Campus such as the University shops, Asda, Lidl, and Sainsbury’s, it took me a while to figure out how to save money on food and which shops to use. After shopping at each of the shops mentioned, I would 100% recommend Lidl. Lidl is the closest non university-owned shop to Frenchay campus and is by far the cheapest. On a weekly food shop, I would save around £10-15 when shopping at Lidl when compared to Asda or Sainsbury’s.
3. Choose a good student bank account
Another useful tip is to choose a student bank account which gives you a large interest free overdraft. When I began studying at University, I set up an account with Santander which gave me a 4-year free railcard, saving 1/3 on all rail travel, and an overdraft of up to £1500 interest free. This was incredibly useful when I was required to pay my rent before my termly loan instalments had entered my bank account. The overdraft is essentially the bank giving you money for free whilst you are studying. Though I chose Santander, I would recommend looking at some comparison websites before as different banks offer different overdraft limits and extras each year.
4. Take the bus or coach
Although this tip may seem obvious, I know so many people who travel home using the train or get an Uber/Taxi back home after a night in the city centre. The cheapest way to get to/from Bristol city centre is using the metrobus services. These run 24/7 and a night ticket only costs £2 which lasts from 7:00pm until 4:30am. That’s only £1 each way! The metrobus services are regular and stop at Frenchay Campus, it takes around 20 minutes each way from the campus to the city centre. By using these buses, you will save at least £10 when compared to if you take an Uber or a Taxi home. When travelling further, I would recommend looking into coach travel. This option does take longer, however, you will save money. I bought a coach card for £12 which allows me to save 1/3 off national express coaches for a year. As I travel from Bristol to Plymouth once a fortnight, this definitely saved me money. A return coach trip was around £20+ cheaper than if I took the train!
5. Get a job
Another obvious way to save money is to work. The university and shopping areas always have jobs available! There are direct bus services from Frenchay campus to both Cabot Circus and Cribbs Causeway. The University hires students to work in the campus bars, shops and cafes. Also, UWE hires student ambassadors which involves casual work to help the university at events such as open days and UCAS fairs. The university jobs all offer hours which may work around your studies, whilst also paying respectable wages! Vacancies from UWE may be viewed online on the Students union ‘Jobshop’ page.
Moving away from home to start university is an exciting experience. Everyone is ready to make friends, join societies, meet new flat mates and learn as much as possible, to make the most out of this new stage. However, some of us can find it a bit more challenging, but asking for help when we need it is always the right option.
What support is on offer?
At UWE Bristol, student mental health and well-being is considered a priority. Because of this there are a great variety of support options available. They can work face to face, online, or even over the phone. Many of them are available 24/7, allowing you to feel heard and understood anytime.
As someone who came from a whole different country, as well as dealing with anxiety in past years, support and counselling were the first things I looked up when enrolling for my degree. Fortunately, the Wellbeing Centre provided everything I needed. For me, therapy was divided into six sessions and spread throughout the whole year.
In terms of staff, the university provide experts and professionals whose job is focused on attending our needs. For example, you can choose whether you want to be counselled by a man or a woman; and you can switch therapists so you can find someone whose clinical advice can fit your needs. Everyone has been trained to be understanding and non-judgemental, providing us with useful tools to deal with the challenges that we might face.
The right support for me
The first thing I did was speak to someone at an Information Point, there’s one on every campus. They will point you in the direction of the right type of support for you. Because I wanted to speak to a counsellor, I needed to fill out a registration form, provided by UWE, which assessed what my needs were and gave an initial idea of what we’re dealing with.
The therapy sessions that I experienced lasted around an hour and fifteen minutes, and took place in Felixstowe Court, which is a cosy and relaxed environment. When the six sessions are over, the therapist who has been working with you, is also able to refer you to other experts, outside the university.
A different option, is contacting the Out of Hours team at UWE. It is run by a minimum of two members of the university staff, who have also been trained to listen to you. The service is considered Out of Hours because it works from 7pm to 6am every night. Again, this choice of support can be used over the phone or in person. Whichever you choose, there is always someone ready to listen down at the Farmhouse on Frenchay Campus, a space specially designed to be used as a safe place for students to relax and socialise, maybe even grab some tea and a nice book!
Other resources encouraged by the university are Kooth, an online platform of counselling created specifically for young people and students and if you’re really distressed, UWE crisis text line, which can be accessed by texting ‘UWE’ to 85258 anytime.
At UWE Bristol we offer a wide range of different types of mental health, wellbeing and academic support. For Desiree, counselling through the Wellbeing Service was the best option, but this won’t be right for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need some help from us whilst you’re here, and that’s ok.
You may need support with your studies and this can be accessed through a variety of sources including your Academic Personal tutor, faculty staff and our peer to peer support system (PAL). You’ll also have access to student support advisors and a wide range of additional support services such as our disability service and UWE cares. No matter what your worries are there will be someone here to help you thrive at university.
All of our support is accessed through the Information Points, which are located on all campuses and are the first point of contact no matter what your question or concern might be. That makes it nice and easy for you.
Choosing where you want to spend the next three years of your life – or longer – isn’t easy. So you need an opinion you can trust. You’ll want to hear from the students who actually study here.
Our eager team of students have joined together to tell you about their experiences of living and studying at UWE Bristol.
Through a series of podcast, blogs and short films they’ll tell you about the whole university experience in their own words. From the clubs and societies they’ve joined, to living in Bristol and the accommodation and facilities on offer here. Find out how they felt about coming to university at the start, the challenges they may have faced and the advice they have to offer.
Keep an eye out for regular posts and articles designed to help you experience UWE Bristol through the eyes of our students and give you an insight into what it’s really like to study here.