January is a month for new starts. New resolutions, new promises about your relationship with chocolate / turkey / tinsel, new ideas for the year ahead...so why not a new experience like starting uni? There can be lots of good reasons to consider January entry and there's still time to apply, so here are five things to think about...
1 - Same course, shorter timescale
If you join a course at London Metropolitan University in January you don't graduate later. Instead, you have a concentrated first year – a fresher espresso (freshpresso? Maybe not) shot, if you like – and then join the second year as usual, completing your degree at the same time as everyone else in your year. This has the added advantage of saving you money on things like accommodation and bills, because you spend less time as a student and can start working sooner.
“I moved to London in January and started my course the very same week,” says Ignacio Fernandez, who started his degree in Computer Forensics and IT Security at London Met in January this year. “It’s great how you can undertake the first year of your degree despite starting four months in to the academic year.”
Like any shot, it's a little intense, he says. “But you still have enough time to do the assignments and get the work done.”
2 - More time with lecturers
To get you up to speed with the course, you won't be wired up to a caffeine drip and chained to the library, alone. Instead, students making January starts have more teaching time, so you get plenty of guidance to help you on your way. Often you'll learn in small groups and have extra one-to-one contact with the academic staff during your first year.
“The best thing for me about the January start is that there is more contact with your professors because the classes are smaller and the teaching more intensive,” says Ignacio. “There was a lot of interaction with the lecturers which means you can build a really good relationship with them.”
3 - Get the same value from your student experience
Spending less time overall at uni doesn't mean rifling around in the great bargain bin of life for scraps of fun. As a January starter you're entitled to all the same student benefits as those who start in the Autumn, which means the full student loan, the NUS card with the shiny discounts, all the clubs, societies and opportunities for work experience, and the chance to do weird things with your hair whenever you want for a few years (if you like).
Unis like London Met even go as far as offering a promise of quality to all of their students – no matter when their course starts – so you'll know you're in good hands.
4 - Last chance to get the Maintenance Grant
You may have heard that the student finance system is changing from September next year. (If not, don't worry, you can read our guide to the changes.) It basically means that the maintenance grant is being replaced by an enhanced student loan, which will cover your fees as well as some of your living expenses. You'll pay it all back once you graduate and your income reaches a certain level.
But! If you apply for January 2016 start the current system will still be in place. Which means that you'll be able to apply for the maintenance grant as usual, and if you're eligible for it you'll receive some funding that you won't need to pay back. Ever.
5 - It's not too late to apply
If Autumn is the right time of year for you, don't worry - you can apply as normal for September 2016 entry. Unis like London Met even run workshops to help you perfect your application.
However, if you like the idea of taking the plunge in January, there's still time to get your application in give London Met a call on 0800 085 3169 to apply now, and ask Santa for a sledload of uni stuff for Christmas. The best course of action is to contact the unis on your shortlist directly, as you would for Clearing or Adjustment, and discuss things with them. Then all you need to do is count down to the new year, and your new student life.