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Hi everyone! My name is Hannah, a 3rd year undergraduate student, studying Education Studies & English Language at York St John University, but I’m originally from Birmingham!

I decided to go to university to mostly gain independence, as well as wanting to enhance my knowledge on my chosen subject! But finding the right university for me was a bit more difficult than I thought…

There are so many universities out there that I didn’t even know where to begin! I searched through the UCAS website and narrowed it down the universities that did my specific course, with the particular modules (mini subjects) that I was interested in. If you are to take anything away after reading my blog, please remember that choosing the right course for you should be the most important factor when looking for universities!

Once narrowed down, I then had to decide where in the country I wanted to go – do I stay at home and commute to nearby universities, or do I move away? And that’s when I realised the main reason for me wanting to go to university was to become an independent adult, so I felt like I needed to move away from home to do that.

I only visited 3 different universities on their Open Days (University of Manchester, University of Chester & York St John University), as my course isn’t a very common one, and initially I liked them all which made my decision tough! To narrow it down further from just liking the course, I researched more about their university services (accommodation, Students Union, student support etc.) so I could get a feeling for what student life is like at that university. I decided to apply on UCAS for these 3 universities and a fourth one I hadn’t visited (Liverpool Hope University), just as a back-up.

I was very lucky that I received unconditional offers from all my applications, meaning the pressure to get the perfect grades was taken off me a little bit, but I was still determined to do well, and treat it like I had only received conditional offers so would still get the grades required. But once I had received my offer from YSJ, I booked onto one of their Decision Days, and it was after visiting the university for the second time that I knew it was for me – when you know, you know!

Moving to York (100 miles from my hometown) was a big move, and I don’t deny that I suffered from homesickness when I first moved away, as I did struggle to adjust. But once I had found my friends and got used to the new city, I absolutely knew I had made the right decision and I have never looked back – I’ve even decided to permanently move to the city once I’ve graduated I love it that much!

Going into university accommodation with people I had never met before (well only on Facebook anyway!) was daunting, but then I remembered absolutely everybody is in the same boat of moving away for the first time and not knowing anyone! Meeting lots of people during Welcome Week was the best experience - I realised I would never be alone at university as there are so many people willing to be your friend, either from the building you live in, the course you study, or even the extra-curricular activities you get involved with!

And this is what I love the most about my time at university – all the extra stuff you can get involved with (as well as my course obviously)! I have been lucky enough to be the Chairperson of my course society for the past two years, as well as being an Academic Rep and a committee member of the Languages & Linguistics guest lecture ‘Colloquium’ series. You may have guessed, I struggle to say “no” when opportunities arise, but that is another piece of advice you should take – don’t pass on opportunities when they are given to you, as it could be the best decision you make, and can really shape your university experience!

To cut my rambling short, the final thing I want to tell you, particularly on the note of making the best decisions, is becoming a Student Ambassador at York St John. It is another way I have made life-long friends whilst being at university, but also being my part-time job as well! I get to promote how amazing university is and get to help people make decisions about going to university – which is what I’m hoping I’ve done in this blog.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you remember my top tips for going to university:

  • The course should be your deciding factor for choosing a university, with the student life aspect being the second most important!
  • Always throw yourself into opportunities and meeting new people whilst at university – it really helps to enhance your university experience!
  • Enjoy every second whilst being at university! It really is the best decision you’ll make in your life!
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