THE BLOG

Follow Your University Dreams However Costly They May Be

10/09/2013 13:29 BST | Updated 08/11/2013 10:12 GMT

It is that time of year again, where nervous folk leave home and step into the big wide world of renting, cooking and university.

So many hours have gone into the preparation of this moment. Family and friends have offered support and advice. You have tried to ensure you have all the essentials for your flat and studies.

But before you have time to even have a lecture, those in the year below you are already preparing and submitting their university applications.

They see the excitement in the words and faces of those leaving, and get inspired to do the same (whether it be to study or party is another thing).

And it is to those people just starting to go through the process that I want to advice the most here, because to get to that moment of excitement is an emotional roller-coaster, and not a cheap one at that.

The government and advising bodies will no doubt try and convince you and your classmates that going to university is possible whatever your backgrounds or interests. Do not be fooled it is not that simple.

1. How do you decide which universities to apply to? You go on visit days, which costs a large amount if they aren't close by to you.

2. You then have to pay for your UCAS application, and while it is just one single cost (unless you then go into adjustment or clearing) it is still a reasonable chunk of money. For me it cost more than a weeks EMA.

3. The course and university you love and dream of wants to interview you. So now you need to spend even more money. At this point you still don't actually have a place.

4. You get a place and get the grades. You've applied for accommodation. The day after you are congratulated on your place, but can we please have our deposit now please. Where they expect 'people from all wealth backgrounds' to get nearly half a grand from, I will never understand (maybe money trees exist, and I haven't found one yet).

5. That dream university just happens to be a couple of hundred miles away, and you have all these books and personal items that you want to take with you. Looks like quite a few trips, friendly hands or a lot of costly petrol will be needed. That's more expense gone.

6. You think it's all sorted out? You seem to have forgotten you are going to need to eat, be clean and warm. You need to buy duvets, food, pans and cleaning products (or at least washing powder).

And all this before your student loan will crawl into your bank account. If you are from one of those backgrounds that the government seem to think are finding it easier to get to university than ever before, then this will destroy you.

Your emotions will hurt. You will want to go to a university but be torn about asking your family to give you some money to help you follow your dreams. Your family will do everything to help you get there, even if it means they have less food for a few weeks, because they love you.

But please, if that is your dream then follow it. Do not go to the closest university or do a different course because it is more practical in pre-university expense. Because nobody wants to see you in five years deeply unhappy at not following your dream.

I guess, what I am trying to say the most is that if you are just applying now, talk to your family, friends and carers about the expenses that may lay ahead and start saving. If you start saving even just a pound a week, by the time any interviews might come around you will be able to book a cheap coach to the destination.

It isn't ideal, and I know a pound a week, is even a push sometimes. But just be prepared for all these hidden things, otherwise they will creep up on you and make you stressed and panicked and worried, and almost give up on your dreams.

Follow those dreams, hopes and ambitions. Because you never know, you might achieve greatness and be able to help out all those that helped you to get there.