Produced by Hannah
BA (Hons) Social Work
Choosing a university can be a huge deal. This may be your home for the next three years minimum, alongside where you may make contacts, both professional and social that could stay with you for life. For me, I wanted to choose a university that was going to have a lasting impact on my career. I chose to study my course at Bournemouth University because 97% of graduates were satisfied with the quality of the course in previous years, and 85% were in work or doing further study within 15 months after the course. I was also impressed with the links with local employers that Bournemouth University had, and the opportunities we would have to develop our skills and contacts.
I spent time deciding what sort of a learner I was. I knew I’d taken the Access course successfully because exams were not my strong point. I performed better with assignments that were observed practically or written essays. Social Work at Bournemouth University is 100% coursework, with no examinations which particularly convinced me that this was the right course for me to succeed it. I did notice that other universities assess differently, even with the same courses, so it’s worth thinking about what sort of learner you are, and how this may impact bringing the best out of you as a student.
If you’re studying a course that has a mandatory placement, such as a health-related course, it may be worth speaking to current students of their time in placement and the academic team who select the placement options. Mandatory placements, you can’t usually choose yourself, and a placement can lead to job offers, so to me, it was crucial I could fully trust the team in selecting the best employers to place me with. If you are studying a course that doesn’t have a mandatory placement, it may be worth seeing if your course offers a placement year. From my experience, watching those that have had placement opportunities, have found it easier to tick their ‘experience box’ off and find work when graduated. Relevant experience is what most employers look for, and this can be particularly hard to find when studying full time, therefore combining your course with a placement semester or year is a great way to have something unique that separates you from other candidates when applying for a job later.
I also wanted to be sure what opportunities would be relevant to me after my time at university. Does the university I’m selecting offer a good Alumni programme where I can benefit from employment support, further studying support and discounts with further education?
Some universities offer bursaries and scholarships. Each have different thresholds and requirements to meet. Perhaps a £1,000 a year bursary is enough to encourage you to be comfortable whilst studying or even enough for you to afford not to work alongside your studies so you can focus more time on your academic work.
Finally, I looked at the area. Is this an area I would feel safe, happy and comfortable starting a new life for myself in? Three years is a long time to commit to and we invest a lot of time and money into a place at university, it’s in your best interest to feel confident that this new area is somewhere you can thrive in.