THE BLOG

The Best Decision I Ever Made? Applying To University

12/01/2017 12:05 GMT | Updated 12/01/2017 12:05 GMT
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UCAS applications close this Sunday and young people across the UK are frantically revising personal statements and deciding and then deciding again, (for the hundredth time!), which Universities will make it on to their application. Not all of you though - some will be undecided on whether University is right for you and will be struggling with whether to even apply, never mind where.

If you're not sure my advice to you is DO IT - the decision to go to university was the best one I ever made.

I studied Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Bedfordshire and it's no exaggeration to say it changed me as a person, both personally and professionally. After my UG degree I took a Master's in Sports Performance (also at Bedfordshire) and now work as a Research Officer for the International Tennis Federation, based in Valencia - a long way from Bedfordshire!

The key thing that helped me get this great job I have now is the work experience I was able to do through the University.

I did a variety of jobs that were all related to sport during my four years at Bedfordshire. I worked for the Tennis Foundation as University Tennis Ambassador (to get more people into tennis at the University) and as University Tennis Coordinator (to get the community involved in tennis) in my third and postgraduate years. These opportunities gave me the chance to attend key conferences and events meeting students and industry experts who were all involved in the career I wanted - an invaluable opportunity in terms of networking.

The variety in my course was also really helpful. I think most undergraduate degrees, at least in the first one to two years, are quite broad and this really helps you find out which parts of your chosen subject you like the most (and are good at!). Opting to do a degree in Accounting, for example, does not necessarily mean you are going to become an accountant - you may well end up working in a alternative area of finance or even a different sector altogether. I studied Sport and Exercise Science, which meant I got to experience a variety of sports and work with lots of different types of athletes. I gained as much experience as possible working in high performance sport through the options that were available to me from doing my course, but despite currently working in coach education and tennis development, rather than as a sports scientist, the skills and knowledge that I learnt still help me in my job on a daily basis. Before University I would never have considered doing the job I do now, and I love it!

University is also brilliant for getting your first taste of independence! Living away from home is a big change for most young people, and you learn a great deal about yourself. Naturally it's not for everybody, but for me it was one of the highlights. It really prepared me for the 'real world' and I met people who are still good friends today - two years after graduating.

One of my favourite memories about University was without doubt representing the University tennis team in BUCS leagues - the national governing body for university sport. There are so many benefits to competitive sport; from meeting new people, to building teamwork skills - and not least enjoyment! Competing also meant I got to travel the country, visiting other universities, meeting people from all walks of life and playing the sport I love. Universities are great for sports and social clubs. Whatever your hobby, Universities will have a club or society for it, so you don't have to give it up to go.

So, with just days to go, what should you do if you are still not sure about university? Firstly, I think it's important to talk things through with the people around you. Listen to advice from family, friends and current/former students - although do bear in mind it may not all be the right advice for you. Make sure you've done as much research as you can into both the course and the university itself - you can never do too much research!

Choosing whether or not to go to university is a big decision, so you need to be completely happy with your choice when the time comes. You may decide to take a gap year, spend a few years working or go travelling; you can always return to university at a later stage if you wish.

These, however, are not decisions that need be made before Sunday. Applying now does not commit you to attending in September - it is not an irreversible decision. If you're still undecided about whether or not you should submit a university application this weekend, my advice is go for it; you never know where it might take you.