Ready. Set. Go for the new year.

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School or college might have only just started again, but uni, UCAS, personal statements and everything in between waits for no one. It's a good time to be thinking about what and where you want study if you're in year 12 or 13. If you already know, even better – time to get your application started. As ever, if you’re a bit stuck take a look at our website. Our new video will talk you through it all.

 

 
This month
What to think about if you're in year 13

With over a year to go before you even apply, the whole uni choice process may seem less urgent than the threat of attack from a sloth. But before you know it, that sloth could be all over you. What with all the exams, revision, coursework, holidays, birthdays/bar mitzvahs/weddings, nights out, time spent playing Candy Crush and so on, it's never too soon to get focused. Now's a great time to be thinking about three of the big questions: 

  • What career do you want?
  • What do you want to study?

  • Where do you want to study it?

First up, different courses prepare you for different careers, but not always in the ways you expect. To be a doctor, you have to study medicine, but most jobs aren’t like that: they don’t have a particular first degree course you have to do. BestCourse4Me’s web tool helps you work out the best courses to study whatever your chosen career
 
Most people don’t have their lives that sorted or there’s no ‘right’ course for whatever they want to do. So, choose a course you’ll be happy doing. You’re going to spend a lot of time and money on this. It might as well be something you enjoy... otherwise why bother? If you enjoy your course, it'll also set you up for a rewarding career afterwards.

BestCourse4Me’s web tool can help with that too: see what other people have chosen who’ve had the same A levels as you (or whatever qualifications you’re studying).  
 
Once you know what you want to study, there are over 140 unis to choose from and hundreds of other colleges and institutions. While not all of them will offer your chosen course, plenty will and that's more than enough choice for anyone. Choose the one that's right for you. To get you started, our friends over at Push have their Uni Chooser to help you make an ordered shortlist of those that will suit you best. 
 
TOP TIP: The best way to see if a university is the right one for you to visit some. Most unis do a couple of open days a year but if you can't make those, most will welcome visits from possible future students all year. Many schools allow students to take time off lessons to go to university open days – if they haven't said anything about that, it's worth asking.

What to think about if you're in year 12

If you’re thinking of going to uni in September 2016 and you haven’t thought about which unis to apply to yet: You’d better strap your skates on.

You’ve got until mid-January to complete your application for most courses, but Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary courses have deadlines which are only a month away.

Even if you’re not planning on applying for those courses, all unis can start accepting applications from now, and so leaving it until the January deadline might not be the best idea. Leaving it that late means unis will already have been making their 'yes' and 'no' piles. Some offers will already have been made. Some courses may even be full already. Leaving your application till the last minute looks like you're not serious.

If you know where you want to apply: Then it’s a good time to start think about crafting the perfect personal statement.

The personal statement on a UCAS form is a chance to convince the people who pick who they want for their courses that there’s more to you than meets the eye.

Many universities and courses have given up doing interviews (some never did). That means the 47 lines in the personal statement are increasingly the best and only chance to convince anyone you’re the right person for the course. No pressure.

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In the news
 
No tuition fees? Gut oder nicht gut?
With A-level results in and university decisions officially made, hundreds of thousands of students will be heading off over the next few weeks. The same is true all over the world, but in Germany for example, where just over a quarter of students go to uni (versus nearly half in the UK), you could be fooled into thinking the students are going to have a much cheaper time of it because they have no tuition fees to pay. But a recent study suggests that there may be hidden costs: UK students spend only around 20% more than German students. But as the article reminds us, “The biggest difference seems to be not the outcome but the political decision about who pays. In Germany it's the taxpayer, in England the individual student gets the bill.”
 
Too young to text
A recent survey has revealed that 85% of parents think an age restriction should be applied to mobile phones. Most seem to think 10 is the acceptable age. Cyber bullying, unsupervised net browsing… these are the kind of things parents are worrying about if young kids have their own phones. It sounds like a bit of an uphill battle given that in some areas, such as Newcastle, over 90% of children between 8 and 11 years old own a phone. In Brighton, though, the figure is less than half of that. What do you think?


Four score and many days off
As ever, the bold Americans tried it first, and the outcome only seems to be positive. It’s the four-day school week. We’ll give you a second to wrap your exploding head around the concept, because, yes, it does sound like the best idea EVER.

A trial study found that there was an overall improvement in pupil’s academic performance with significant improvement in student’s maths scores (or “math” as they’d say). But before you start petitioning for your school to follow suit, the new four-day week means longer hours in school to meet the minimum time requirements.

 

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