Squashing the myths about university

It’s too hard to get in, it’s only for geeks, I’ll never be able to pay for it… are all common worries for people thinking about studying a degree. So, here are some facts to dispel a few of the myths.

I don’t want to just study from books
At university you learn in lots of different ways. Many courses give you the chance to do something practical and test out your skills. For example you could solve crimes by gathering evidence and processing it in a forensics lab, or get help starting your own business. Lectures and the library are a great way to introduce you to new ideas but you might also spend time in labs, on field trips, working on group projects or giving presentations. Lots of courses also include practical work placements.

There are no jobs after you finish
It is widely proven that graduates are more likely to be successful in getting a job, have higher wages, and have access to a greater variety of careers. Plus, and more importantly for some, as a graduate you’re likely to enjoy your job more and possibly even live longer.

I can’t afford it
You don’t need lots of money to go to university and there’s a lot of financial help available. You can cover the cost of tuition fees with a government loan, which you don’t start paying back until you finish your course and are earning over £21,000 a year*. You can also get a government loan to pay for all or some of your living costs (depending on your parent’s income), which are things like rent, food, travel, books and bills. The rules for paying it back are the same as a tuition fees loan.

You might be able to get free money in the form of a bursary or scholarship from whichever university you attend. There are lots out there. You can get them if you achieve certain grades or if you’re good at something, like sport, for example.

*correct at the time of writing

It’s too difficult to get in
Just because a subject is popular, it doesn’t mean you won’t get accepted. Universities often report how many people apply for each place on their courses but everyone can apply for up to five courses and will only choose one. And not everyone who applies will have studied the right subjects, get the correct grades or have relevant experience. So it’s always worth applying.

You have to move away from home
With over 300 places in the UK providing degree courses there are endless opportunities to move away if you’d like to. But many students choose a course that’s close to where they live or even study from the comfort of their own home. There are five universities that are less than an hour’s travelling distance from Portsmouth, so there are plenty to choose from if you want to stay local.

You don’t know if you will like it
You can get a taste of university before you decide. Universities run lots of activities to give you the chance of experiencing student life and UP for Uni is just one example. There are also programmes like The Sutton Trust UK Summer Schools, which give Year 12 students the opportunity to spend a week at a university for free.

I won’t fit in
Universities have a wide mix of students: people from state and private schools, care leavers, international students from all over the world, people returning after a gap year or longer (mature students), and those who go straight there after school or college. Most just want to learn, make friends and have a good time, regardless of where they went to school or their background.

Speak to your parents/carers and teachers, and check out colleges and universities to see what they offer. There are over 35,000 courses in the UK alone.

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