Your guide to applying for university

Deciding where and what to study can be daunting, but there are some questions you need to address before you set your heart on a specific university…

What are your career aspirations?

Certain universities are well known for being specialists in specific subjects. Before you decide on where you want to live do a search to determine which universities offer the best courses for the subject you want to do. The course you choose will have an impact on your future career plans.

What sort of living experience do you want?

There are two types of university, campus and city based.

Campus universities are all located in the same grounds – you sleep, eat, study, socialise, shop and do your washing in the same place – is this for you?

City universities are spread out so there is more travel involved, although most universities have a bus service. Think about how responsible you can be.

How good is your British geography?

Have you always wanted to live by the sea?

Do you want to move up north?

Have you considered Scotland, Ireland or Wales?

Make sure you use the UCAS map to identify where the universities are located.

How far are you prepared to travel?

At 18, many young people are absolutely ready to move out of their family home for the first time, but in reality it can be daunting. How far away from home do you want to be? Do some research on how long the train journey will be to get you home, but also the cost – travel can be very expensive, and you will have to budget for yourself.


  • What sort of university do you want?
  • Does it offer exactly the course you want?
  • Are you happy with travel to and from home?
  • Do you like the location?
  • Are you ready to be independent?

Are you ready to move out?

If you are not sure, then think about all the things you will have to do for yourself: cooking, cleaning, making sure you are on time and your work is done, food shopping, budgeting, the list is endless.  You can always pick a university close to home.

We have an increasing number of students applying to university every year at Rivers Academy, with over three quarters of the current cohort about the start the admissions process.

Choosing a course, deciding where in the country is the right place to apply, and working out the points tariff for entry are daunting enough, and that is before you have even begun to think about the personal statement and applying for financial support. In the sixth form at Rivers we have plenty of specialist support available for all our students. If needed, a member of the team will have a one to one meeting with students to help them make these important decisions, and the sixth form leadership team and the fourteen academic mentors are always on hand to offer support, information and guidance.

Information events such as the Year 12 Futures Evening, and the numerous trips out to local universities give us the chance to ensure our students are given comprehensive details about the Higher Education options that are available, and opportunities to explore what they want to do when they leave the sixth form. We aim to involve our student’s parents in the process, and have resources, leaflets and information available to explain the impact on parents, and also what their role is in the application systems. Separate support is available when required to support the student finance applications.

The UCAS process, and website, can be confusing, so there are lots of resources online and in school that can help students and parents while they are in the process of making these important decisions, and the links to the relevant pages of UCAS are below:

LOUD Magazine

Are you thinking about heading to university, or what career options are out there? Then take a look at Loud magazine and its website. Loud is a free online magazine which features the latest opportunities for college leavers and 6th formers. Loud also includes prize giveaways, interviews with music artists and gives you the chance to write for it. Once you’ve signed up you will receive 5 issues per year for free.

Where next

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NASA Visits

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