Questions from the S5 Conference: Part 1

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Questions from the S5 Conference: Part 1

We had a great time at the S5 Conference a couple of weeks ago! We hope that everyone who came got a lot out of it too! We collected a few questions from students who were at the Conference and thought we'd share the answers with you. This is part 1, so keep an eye out for part 2 in a couple of weeks.

How do I make the most of a gap year?

Some people decide that they'd actually like to take the chance before starting university or college to do something aside from education for a little while! For some people this means getting a job to save up some money, volunteering with cool projects in other countries or travelling the world to see what else is out there. 

If you plan on applying to university or college in S6 and deferring entry (this means asking the university/college to hold your place until the year after), you might find that it's a good idea to tell the university why you plan on doing this and what you will do with the year in between leaving school and starting uni. This is where a bit of planning is a good idea like the student above. You can talk about your plans in your personal statement as part of your UCAS application.

Some universities will be looking for you to do something that's related to the degree you want to study, e.g. if you want to study Nursing, you could volunteer in a care home, or work with people with additional support needs. It's also not a bad idea to keep up your study skills in some way, e.g. if you're planning on travelling, why not learn a new language while you're away? You can also build up a lot of great skills and experience on a gap year; it can be a good idea to think about which skills you actually want to work on and develop and look into ways of doing this. 

Most of all, have fun! This is a chance to experience life away from an educational institution, something you probably won't have done since you were 5! You may find that you learn a lot about yourself from being away from the school environment and many people find that it helps them feel a lot more independent  and confident by the time they get to university or college. 

What life skills can I gain in university?

People will have many different motivations for going on to university or college. In fact, it's something that we talked about in one of the very first posts on the Hub this year. Knowing WHY you want to go into higher education is an important way of working out WHAT you will study and WHERE.

It's very easy to get focussed on the subject-specific knowledge and skills that you will gain on a course at university or college but it's useful to also think about the other skills and attributes that you'll pick up along the way. Some of these will come from the classroom and your studies but there are loads of other ways to build these skills outside of the study spaces.

Getting involved in societies, sports, volunteering, mentoring, the students' association and many other things is a fantastic way of building up loads of other skills and attributes. Universities and colleges have loads of information about these skills if you ask them about it, however beware of lots of buzzwords and phrases that might not make a lot of sense just now! It might be a good idea for you to think about which skills you want to work on - do you want to become more independent? Or maybe build up your confidence in public speaking? Maybe you just want to be able to cook something more than a bowl of pasta? What is on offer at university to help you develop those skills? Open days are a fantastic way to find out more about what you can do aside from your course.

Whatever your motivations are when it comes to choosing courses and universities, it's really key to think about what you want to get out of it. This is where research into those courses/universities/colleges is important and is going to help you make sure that you find the right fit. 

Have a look at some of the alumni profiles from our partner institutions to get some ideas of the kinds of skills graduates have picked up during their time at university:

SRUC (Scotland's Rural College)

University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Napier

Heriot Watt

Queen Margaret