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Making the most of Summer: Sun, Sea… Work Experience!

As a recent graduate, I remember fondly the amount of holiday time I enjoyed as a student. Twenty-two weeks, in fact, is the average time a university student can now expect to spend away from the classroom each year. Now, don’t get me wrong, students should use this time to relax, unwind and recharge from what I am sure has been a busy year learning and developing new skills (and possibly pulling the odd all-nighter!), but if you have students dithering over how to make effective use of their time over the next few months, why not encourage them consider the handy tips outlined below during their down-time this summer?

It is that time of year where so many of you will be working closely with students, mapping out their options once they finish school/college, but how are your students going to get where they want to be? First of all, research. A skill that will come in handy in any walk of life, especially if they are looking to go to university, research will allow your students to carefully consider the options available to them. Which course, out of the 40,000 on offer in Higher Education, do they want to study? Where do they want to spend their next few years; as far away from their comfort zone as possible or closer to home? What skills and experiences are necessary to make them stand out from the crowd? These are questions that can all be addressed over the next few months.

First up, make sure they find out more about their intended pathway. Whether it is through attending an Open Day to gain a further insight into university life, or taking part in summer schools that offer a taste of a particular subject before applying, engaging in these types of activities will demonstrate your students’ independence, initiative and focus – all of which will help catch the eye of Admissions departments.

Taking advantage of one of the many UCAS conventions that are taking place across the country over the coming months is another useful tool students should be considering. Showering universities with questions about the courses on offer, entry requirements and the application process (including how to polish up that all important Personal Statement) will prove invaluable. Be careful, though – don’t let students get distracted by marketing gimmicks; free pens are worth much less than an in-depth conversation about future options.

Other important factors to consider relate to work experience, internships and volunteering opportunities. Students that are more likely to be accepted onto their chosen course are those that have acquired the most relevant skills and insight into the careers they intend to enter – engaging in hands-on work experience and volunteering really adds substance to an application, as it allows students to link the skills they have learnt to their chosen course and why they will be beneficial. It can also help students establish roles they don’t want to do, preventing them from making the wrong decisions. Whether it is STEM students engaging in amazing opportunities such as the Nuffield Studentships, or Law students simply observing trials from the Magistrate Court galleries, any exposure to the industry will prove advantageous for students. Ultimately they are in competition for places, and with top university courses there is no room for complacency, so get writing those cover letters!

Above anything else, however, the summer is a time to have fun. Read a book, paint, watch TV, travel with friends, rest…but don’t let your students neglect what is most important of all: their future.

Posted by Brad Farrow on Tue, 14 Feb 2017

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Brad is a Law alumnus of the University of East Anglia and now works as a Higher Education Adviser for the university, playing an important role in developing relationships with schools in the Essex, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Suffolk regions. This includes the delivery of presentations to sixth form students on a variety of topics related to going to university, as well as being on hand to provide help and guidance at UCAS conventions and careers fairs across the country. Brad is also central to raising awareness of the university in Europe, currently focusing on France, Cyprus and Greece.

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