Blog post

My experience: from applying to the first few weeks

By Isabel Busk - 10 June 2022

Applying to university can be a daunting experience to begin with. It is easy to feel alone and to struggle to deal with this on your own. But you don’t need to do it alone. Once you start to look around, you will soon realise there is plenty of advice out there. When I applied to university, I found hearing other people’s experiences really helped me. And now, I want to share my experience on deciding to go to university and how I felt once I settled into my first few weeks.

Before applying

Before applying to university, I felt unsure about what I wanted to do. I was coming to the end of my A-levels and felt like everyone around me kept asking what I was going to do next. I decided I wanted to further my education and go to university. I didn’t feel ready to go straight into the workplace or take a gap year.

Once I realised I wanted to go to university, I started to research different options. I discussed locations with friends and family as well as my course ideas. It’s really helpful to talk to others who are looking at going to university as well. I found it helpful to attend open days and events with friends, this can make the experience feel less daunting and a great way to support each other through this process. 

When I went to the University of Derby Open Day, there were two courses I was stuck between choosing. It was nice to meet some of the lecturers as well as see what my campus and accommodation would look like.

A group of students giving a talk at our Open Day
Presenters and guests at a University of Derby Undergraduate Open Day

Choosing Derby

After applying to the University of Derby as one of my options, I went to a course taster day, where I met my lectures and got a taste of what my modules would be like. This helped to lead me to my decision to choose Derby.

I had also gone to a taster day for a different university, but Derby stood out as the one I wanted to go to. I think this is because Derby is a slightly smaller university which made it feel like there was a strong community present. For me, personally, universities in large cities felt too overwhelming to me.

I knew I wanted to go to university, but I didn’t want to make a jump that would be too much for me to handle. The course I chose was also ideal for me, as the modules cover a range of skills and topics which will allow me to keep my options open after graduation.

Preparing to start

After accepting my offer from the University of Derby, I felt excited but a little overwhelmed with everything I needed to do to prepare for September. This included choosing my student accommodation, and organising my finances – opening a student bank account and applying for student finance. Luckily there is a lot of information online on the University, and government websites. This helped me to navigate through the steps I needed to take to prepare, and it didn’t end up being as much as I thought!

Here are some great resources to find more information:

Settling in and getting support

The first week of university was one of the best weeks of student life for me overall. Getting to know everyone on my course was great! I felt this new independence I hadn’t felt before. For my course, we were put into groups for the first week to complete a project together and it was a great way to get to know people.

My course also offered similar modules as another course for the first year, so this meant, if I decided I had made the wrong choice, then I still had that choice to change during the first year. I could even change to a completely different course during the first year if it didn’t feel right.

So, it is important to remember, even once you have settled into university, you are not stuck if you feel unhappy with your choices. You have a lot of freedom to change things! I was also assigned a Personal Academic Tutor to support me if I have any issues or concerns, which was reassuring. I would meet with him each term to discuss my progress and how I was feeling overall. I’ve had the same tutor now for three years, which means we’ve got to know each other well.

Finding a university you want to apply to isn’t always a linear process, but it is an exciting start to a new chapter in your life. It is good to get stuck in and see where it takes you. Ask for advice, explore the university, and figure out what feels right to you. Good luck!

About the author

Media Production student Isabel Busk wearing a red t-shirt, smiling.

Isabel Busk
Media Production student

Hi, my name is Isabel and I am a third-year student studying media production. My main interests are graphic design and marketing, which I am hoping to pursue when I graduate. Outside of University, I like to play video games or anything creative such as drawing or painting!