Author: Zuzana Bujnakova
I know, that really is a general question that would be followed by dozens of supplementary questions. But what I meant in the first place was – what options do we really have after we finish high school? Well, normally we do our best to achieve excellent grades at leaving school examinations. Then, or even before, if we can say what the results will be, we choose our university accordingly. We do think a lot before applying. Is it too close or too far away from my home? How much money will I need to “survive”? Does the university provide the facilities what I am looking for? And what is its rating? Etc., etc…I guess, it really does depend on you guys, individually.
And what was I thinking? To be honest, I have read every single profile of universities throughout Slovakia and the Czech Republic. As I come from Slovakia, it came naturally to me to study in one of those countries (it is because Slovakia and the Czech Republic have some kind of mutual agreement that allows students from both countries to study at either of state universities for no fees, and that is going to be changed soon, unfortunately). But it didn’t really bring me any clear idea of what to do next. I focused more on what university to apply than to the actual study subject and soon, I found myself desperate, because, in the end, I wasn’t even sure what to study! My major high school subjects were English, Slovak, Social studies and History, so they made me think of careers related to them. But I didn’t want any of that!
And I was not the only one. More and more friends and classmates of mine found themselves not sure about what to study. Having looked at all the statistics that newspapers/internet/surveys fed us with, our country was stuffed with people studying humanities! And the worst part was that they could not find the proper job after graduating. That did not make any of us more sure what to do.
Just at the time of huge confusion, a great friend – my room-mate in the dorm – came back from Oxford where she had studied English for about 3 months. What a flow of refreshing ideas that was! We stayed up till late talking with eyes filled of excitement, having the right feeling about our future, finally! She initiated me into the process of applications, funding, loans, expenses, deadlines and everything else that is easily found on ucas.com! We could see something big coming.
A year later, five ambitious people from my class received their acceptance letters from English, Scottish and Welsh universities! They put all their effort to write their personal statements required for the entry. In these you basically explain why you are suitable for chosen course, what your qualities, experiences and, mainly, motivations are! Moreover, they had to pass IELTS exam at the certain level of English, so they could prove their language skills for future studies.
What I like about the UK application system is that it does not really matter if you, for example, studied science in the past and you would like to apply for literature, they always give you a chance to prove your motivation and that is often the main reason for accepting you. If they see you work hard, they do not decline your application just because you had B from English few years ago!
Another difference is that you don’t spend so much time in classes when you study at the UK university. Usually, you would have around 10-15 classes a week. It does not really mean, though, you don’t have to study so much! You do have to study a lot but most of the time, you will have to study by yourself, spending time at libraries.
The teacher will explain the main points at the presentation and if you still find it difficult to understand, you make an appointment with your tutor who will go over the topic with you once again. This system of classes allows you to have a part-time job as well. Many students work to cover the living expenses. And the positive site of being a student working less then 20 hours a week is that you get the benefit of not paying taxes.
Before applying to the UK universities, you will have to consider the fact that tuition fees at local universities are as much as £3,290 annually and they rise every year. But the good news is that you can ask for a loan from the British government which you will have to start paying back only after you have graduated and only in case you earn more than the level established. In fact, it means that many students don’t even have to pay the loan back, because they don’t earn more then. (Just remember that if you take out the student loans available for the full-time students, you don’t have to start paying them back until you’ve left your course and are earning over £15,000.- www.direct.gov.uk)
The friends of mine I mentioned earlier have just started the academic year working hard studying psychology, political science, film studies and geography in Aberdeen, Dundee, Aberswyth and Kingston Universities. I have to say that I am proud of them, but, at the same time, I am worried for myself, as I am preparing to overcome the same obstacles they did several months ago. I decided to take a gap year to come to the UK, to gain confidence in English, some experience and save some money as well, and I will start writing my own personal statement soon. So what subject did I chose to study? Well, I am still balancing somewhere between languages and art.
This is one of the winning articles of the Mladiinfo Article Writing Contest. The content of the articles does not necessarily represent the view or the position of Mladiinfo.