Anybody, regardless of their age and background, can go to university and people go for lots of different reasons. You may want to continue your education after you have finished your A levels or you may want to improve your skills if you are thinking about a career change. Maybe you just want to study something you are interested in.
There is usually an entry requirement for you to go to a university – for example A levels – but you do not always have to have formal qualifications.
At university you will be able to work towards a Certificate, Diploma or Degree qualification. Most full-time Degree courses will take three to four years to complete but if you are taking a part-time qualification it will take longer.
If you get your Degree you will be known as a ‘graduate’ and graduates tend to earn more money than people who haven’t got a Degree. It’s worth noting that for certain careers, for example a doctor, vet or lawyer, you will need to have a specific Degree. But for other careers, for example banking or sales, the Degree you choose to take doesn’t need to be as specific.
Going to university can feel quite scary as it could be the first time that you have lived away from home. If you do decide to go to university, even if you are still going to be living at home, it’s a great way for you to become more independent, try new activities and meet lots of new people. You will also be able to develop new skills, and gain confidence.
Student accommodation might be available on campus for a limited number of students. It’s worth looking into this, especially if you are a disabled student, as it can have a big impact on your experience of going to university.
If you are not sure which university you want to go to one of the best things to do is to go and have a look round when the universities have open days. This will allow you to see the university and get a feel for what the place is like.
This is particularly important if you are a disabled student as you can find out if the university has any access issues and if it is doing anything to improve them. It’s also an ideal opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have. You can take your parent, carer or a friend with you to see what they think about it too.
Learning and studying at university will be different from learning at school or college and you will need to be prepared to work hard. Every subject will be different, but there will be lots of discussions, practical work and lectures. You will be expected to work both by yourself and also as part of a group.
The work will not always be easy but it will be worth it in the end if you pass your course and get your university qualification.
Who can help?
At every university there will be trained careers advisers who will be able to advise you about all the different Degrees, Certificates and Diploma qualifications you will be able to take.
There are also lots of really good websites, such as http://www.opendays.com/, which provide information about open days and contact details for over 400 universities and colleges in the UK.
UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) offers information on all aspects of the applications process for full-time undergraduate courses at universities and colleges. You can apply to university through the UCAS website at http://www.ucas.ac.uk
The Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities website offers loads of practical advice on where and what to study.
You will also find some very informative articles in the University and Higher Education section of Directgov.
For guidance on the careers available to you after university, visit the Connexions Direct jobs4u careers database.