Beginners guide to University

(16 Posts)
poppymagnum Fri 30-Aug-13 10:52:41

My DD is about to go into year 10. She wants to go to university after A levels and is keen on science. Specifically, she would like to work in crime/forensics but is aware that lots of people want to do this and would be happy doing anything science related. She has ruled out medical school. She is also very keen on studying/living in London. Everyone we speak to looks at us like we are mad due to the cost etc, but surely people manage it. I would love for her to be able to experience this.

The problem for DH and I is that nobody in either of our families has ever been to Uni and so we know very little about it. When to look at courses, where to go to research different unis, how student finance works.

DH and I both work FT and in reasonably paid jobs (ATM at least) but have very little means to help her financially. She is aware of this.

I know she has got a while and she may well change her area of interest but I feel fairly confident that she will apply for Uni whatever she ends up doing and I would like to be as prepared as possible to help her.

There is so much information out there and I know she will get help at college once she starts A levels but can anyone recommend a place to start or even suggest vital bits of information that we should know?


OP’s posts: |
eatyourveg Fri 30-Aug-13 12:02:22

Go down to your library and look at anything by Brian Heap - thats where I would start. Also maybe have a look at the ucas website

titchy Fri 30-Aug-13 12:32:17

Unistats website, university websites (if she's a high flier and wants London look at imperial college and UCL websites). Martin Lewis website for loans and grant info.

poppymagnum Fri 30-Aug-13 12:34:21

Thanks. Will check those out.

OP’s posts: |
secretscwirrels Fri 30-Aug-13 14:20:20

I was in your position a few years ago. I cannot tell you how much help and advice I have found on MN.
Read the secondary education and higher education threads regularly and you will learn what is out there.

PeerMon Fri 30-Aug-13 14:26:45

Does her current school offer any careers help or guidance? If so, they will have more help, advice and knowledge, particularly about things like student loans and bursaries.

TheAlphaandtheOmega Fri 30-Aug-13 15:13:39

Is she keen on London because it is a big city, I guess she's 14/15. My DS is at Leeds and love it there and you also get the city lifestyle and the accommodation is plentiful and cheaper. He also likes that it has very good cheap transport connections.


alreadytaken Fri 30-Aug-13 15:59:49

if she goes to London you will need to provide her with more money than elsewhere. We looked at both Imperial and UCL and Imperial offer small bursaries at earning levels that go higher than UCL. However she would get a big city experience far more cheaply at universities like Newcastle or Cardiff and a bit cheaper at Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham. Try to persuade her that London is more fun for a first job, when you have money to enjoy it.

I'd suggest starting with the UCAS website but then reading as much of the higher education threads here as you can stomach. She should start researching courses now to see what type of A levels she needs and what type of reading/ work experience she might do to make her personal statement (when she finally writes it) more interesting.

If you post a thread about crime/forensics then you'll get more informed comment subject specific comment but how about becoming a police cadet (old information but gives an idea, google your local one ) Forensic science information here

BlackMogul Fri 30-Aug-13 16:29:06

Hi Poppym. DD2 is just about to start at London College of Fashion. Halls of residence with NO food included is £8,500 pa. this is for 51 weeks which is fairly typical for London. Transport costs on top. Socialising is more expensive too as transport will be needed back to Hall. Loan for London is more than elsewhere but does not get anywhere near even paying the rent, let alone living costs. I would say we are comfortably off and can pay, but if you have little spare money you need to have a strategy to make up the shortfall. Hall is only for first year, then it is into the open market for accommodation. In London, students live anywhere, there is no specific student area, and this is determined by how much money you have. The less money you have, the further out of central London you will be. London, especially Imperial, is targeted by many many overseas students. On a course at UCL which my DD1 investigated only 9 of 55 students were British. Imperial can be even more skewed. A more enjoyable experience can be had at lots of Universities in other cites for way less money. I would start looking at the prospectuses from Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, etc. Grades required for Imperial/UCL will be as for Oxbridge. See what courses might be of interest and look at what they typical offer grades are and what their preferred subjects are.

BackforGood Fri 30-Aug-13 16:45:33

I agree with secret LOADS of threads in the 'Teens' and 'Secondary Ed' and 'Higher Ed' boards on here, with loads of thoughts and opinions and advice.
A site I love, that was recommended on here is You have to register, but it's been really helpful to my ds.

poppymagnum Fri 30-Aug-13 18:50:58

This is all so helpful. Thanks everyone.

OP’s posts: |
alreadytaken Fri 30-Aug-13 19:30:15

As no-one had suggested another useful resource I searched for something related to forensic science at the student room. Instead I found this article about job prospects

so perhaps criminology might be better? Student room discussion here

Some suggestions for jobs that might interest her - prison governor

and police

Student finance guide here

Another thing about Imperial is that medical students make up a substantial part of the university. Few of them are overseas students but a lot of the non-medics are.

JGBMum Sat 31-Aug-13 11:28:30

Has anybody mentioned the University guides produced by the times and the Guardian?
I found these a helpful starting point, particularly the Times guide. There's loads of helpful info, and I prefer to have a book that I can pick up and put down rather than trying to remember lots of info from online sources.
Your local library should have one if you don't want to buy one.

MagratGarlik Sun 01-Sep-13 08:48:57

Kings College London is also very good. I went to Imperial for my PhD and whilst I had a great time, it was very different to the city I did my first degree in, which was very student-centred.

My advice if you are looking at science degrees is avoid with a large barge pole any degree which calls itself "forensic science". The exception being the "analytical and forensic chemistry" degree at Strathclyde.

Go for a degree which is accredited by the relevant professional body too, so for chemistry, ensure enough chemistry content by checking that it will allow GRSC status after graduating and MRSC status after another 3 years of work. Do not go for a course which only allows graduates to gain AMRSC status. Similar for biology, the course should allow membership of the society of biology 3 years after graduating.

She may wish to consider a science based degree which gives her a profession at the end, such as Pharmacy (not pharmacology), but be aware this is VERY competitive - as much so as medicine. Another option is Biomedical Science but ensure the course is recognised by the Institute of Biomedical Science, if not, it will not allow HCP registration.

rightsaidfrederick Sun 01-Sep-13 15:26:34

London is something that I would advise her to think about very carefully, as it does have some significant disadvantages, such as
- cost (NB what does this actually MEAN to her - what will she have to do / not do because of the cost?)
- students tend to be quite scattered across London because of the sheer costs. This means that you don't get a student village effect as you do in other cities like Bristol and Manchester.
- she'll probably have to live in less nice accommodation that might otherwise be the case
I'd suggest that she goes to another large city (Brum, Manc, Notts, Leeds, Bristol etc.), visits London when she feels like it (it's not far, we live on a small island), and then moves to London when she starts her first job).

The Student Room is an excellent resource, both the forums (which contain a variety of applicants, average current students, very knowledgeable students and recent graduates, and university staff) and the wiki pages

I have to agree that anything calling itself forensic science should generally not be touched with a bargepole. A conventional (life?) science degree (and I don't just mean things like biology, chemistry, physics, we can be talking biomed, pharmacology, physiology, genetics, optometry, pharmacy etc. etc.) will open up many more doors both within and outside of science.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Sun 01-Sep-13 15:50:40

Which? has a university course search website that has a lot of interesting and clear to read information and easy to use search function. Not all the courses have full information and not all courses available are there, but it's good to play around with to get a general idea of what is available where in clear, easy to understand language. As your DD knows what she wants to do generally, she could do this at any time to give herself an idea of what's expected in her areas of interest.

I think Martin Lewis has a few guides to student finances that you can likely google up to get a clearer image on how it works.

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