UCAS applications: the importance of university visits
In the second instalment of a three-part interview, two of our A-level students, Joseph Nash Price-Evans and William Tampion-Lacey, interviewed Alan Beer, the Kings Brighton UCAS Coordinator, about the importance of university visits as part of the UCAS application process.
William: Is it easy for students to visit universities whilst in Brighton?
Alan: Yes, university campuses are obviously welcoming places, and we are very lucky in Brighton to have two universities, Sussex and Brighton. It is incredibly easy for a student studying at Kings Brighton to visit those two universities.
There are a lot of very good universities that are near Brighton: Southampton would be a very good example, very well-known for its Engineering and Science, the University of Surrey is not too far away, and then we are obviously only a 50-minute train ride from London where you have University of London and many other great colleges and universities.
We do our best at Kings to give our students a variety of options when trying to choose a university. There are over 150 universities where you can do a degree in the United Kingdom. Obviously we can't visit every single university but we do run trips, as many as we feel makes sense, and we also invite universities to the school to tell the students a little bit about the university — often they are very good, especially when they come early in the application process as they will explain what they are looking for on the application, how to write a good personal statement and things like that.
William: Have students visited any universities this year?
Alan: Yes, so it is split into 'official' visits and 'unofficial' visits — I know I have assisted students go to open days, and we have the official visits such as an upcoming overnight stay at Queen's University, Belfast.
As a college, if the student wants to go to an open day, we will support them in that and give them permission if it is during school time. We have our own organised trips like to Queen's and then the universities coming here so it is a combination of the three I suppose.
In the Autumn and Winter terms we will have a higher education/ university fair, so we invite universities that we know our students are interested in. I believe you have done them?
William and Joe: Yes, we have done one at Kings London.
Alan: Around 20 – 30 universities will come and be represented and it gives our students the chance to ask them questions and get to know them. They know a lot about their universities, they know a lot about the courses and it has been my experience that I have been impressed by them. If they are not sure about something, they will always take the student's email adress and they will always get back to the student. That is also a very good source of information and advice.
Joe: When we went to London, I asked a university some questions that they were unable to answer straight away, but they emailed me soon afterwards.
Alan: I am very glad you said that as there is an example, thank you. Those introductions end up being very helpful.
Joe: What are the benefits of physically visiting a university?
Alan: Well the obvious benefit is that you need to have a look and decide whether you want to go there. It is a big commitment especially when you are young, three years is a big proportion of how long you have been around for, so you are going to spend a large amount of time at that university, whether it is a campus university or a city-based university.
It is worth visiting to see the facilities. A lot of students are interested in sport, it is secondary to the academic side, but sport is a big thing, so increasingly universities have fantastic sports facilities. Obviously there is a ranking to that, some universities are particularly known for their sports facilities, and by visiting a university you will see the facilities and decide whether or not it is the university for you.
Joe: So, you would say it is definitely better?
Alan: Yes, it is and I always recommend students to actually have a chat with students who are in the university. Just say, 'Hi, I am having a look around, and I am thinking of coming here'. Ask them — they are the best people to ask, they are actually at the university. In my experience they will freely say what they think about the course, and what they think about the university.
Read Part 1 of the interview, Working as a UCAS Coordinator for Kings
Read the next instalment, UCAS applications: tips and advice