Thank heaven for Halls

‘By seeking and blundering we learn.’ 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It’s a mothers job to drill into us that there’s no better way to learn than from your own mistakes but that doesn’t mean that we can’t sometimes take a little heads up from other people’s fuck ups. For instance, two years ago now, my brother through no fault of his own didn’t get halls at his chosen University so pays a sizable amount for a small and studenty flat which he shares with two other students. The last two years have been difficult for him in almost every respect, as they probably are for most new University students. His University experience had thus far been under a big black money lacking rain cloud because of him having to pay more rent and bills that aren’t an issue in halls. It’s been hard for him to gather together money for rent, budget for food and deal with unexpected expenses all while working toward a degree and holding down a job. I’ve witnessed him stuffing handfuls of coffee shop sugar in to his pockets in order to fill up his own sugar jar later and been there for tears over unexpected Counsel Tax bills. His experiences have taught me a lot about how to handle the little money I have as a student on important things like toilet roll and food as opposed to books or lip stick (even if it does last for 8 hours. There’s no shame in reapplying anyway) I’ve also learned that although 5 Jäger Bombs for £10 is cheap, the price you pay for not always handing work in by the deadline isn’t. But most importantly I suppose it taught me to fight, as if I’m in The Hunger Games, for a room in Residential Halls

Question Time

I was in London this week, visiting University of the Arts London (UAL). This is the second University I’ve visited; the first being Hertfordshire which was – in my opinion – pretty hard to top. Hertfordshire just had a really friendly feel to it, and the campus tour itself was led by two really approachable, confident and informative students. Thankfully, because the students were so friendly I wasn’t shy about asking all the questions that I had written down to ask. Even with my mother, who was with me both times, pipping me to the post, asking all the Mum-sy questions like:
 
–          What’s the security like?
–          Is there an on sight doctors?
–          Is there a bus stop nearby?
–          Are there many places to eat on campus?
–          How expensive have you found the Uni experience?
 
And while these are all questions I advise asking, if – like me – you have parents that know diddly squat about the whole University process I suggest you ask the students a few, more targeted questions yourself like:
 
–          How many people are on their course and in their lectures?
–          How much one-on-one time to they get with tutors?
–          What’re the pros and cons of the University, in their opinion?
–          What’s the town/city like to live in?
–          Are the halls of residents nice to live in?
–          How have they found the work load, and the support given?
–          How much independent work are they expected to do?
–          How difficult was it to find cheap accommodation after their first year?
 
Obviously, ask any questions you want answered, these are a few I had in mind to ask during both my tours and they’re also questions I got helpful answers to from the students. But mostly, I think the questions you ask mainly depends on what you’re worrying about, for instance, if you’re worried about financing yourself ask the students what kind of bursaries* the University offers, and how expensive the area is to live in. I think from the questions I asked it’s clear I’m concerned about the area I will be living in, the difficulty of the course and the availability of support if I find myself struggling. I felt I got the best answers and reassurance from the Hertfordshire University and that’s why I put it as my first choice, so it’s worth looking like a dick and asking the questions
 

 

*Bursaries and scholarships refer to financial help in addition to student loans and grants – the money does not have to be paid back. The terms ‘bursary’ and ‘scholarship’ are used interchangeably and each university has its own terminology