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Applications - Would much appreciate advice. Watch

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    Hi all,

    So before i ask the relevant questions, i'd like to give you a bit of background based on my situation. I went to college quite late on after working in Retail and a Factory and finally deciding that i need to do something with my life. I went to study Music Technology and Performance. I completed my first year and was really enjoying it, but shortly after, due to personal circumstances, i was unable to finish the course and job centre insisted i go and do the Future Jobs Fund thing. I went on to that and shortly after found a job in software development.

    I spend 6 months there with the promise that i would properly learn the ropes of software development (SQL, VB.net etc. which is something that has been a hobby of mine for several years now), but around 3 weeks ago they had to let me go due to not being able to afford to keep me on in the role they wanted me to take over. I was originally taken on for customer support, of which i performed really well, but they also took me on to develop me in software too as i didn't have as much experience as the other applicant for the job in Customer Support. (Actually looking back at it now, i think they wanted someone who didn't have a clue to test the software) I was told that i should really go and get training for software development as this is where i seem to shine, much more above customer service.

    Anyway, i'm not back on the unemployment line without relevant qualifications for what i want to do. I'm pretty sure after my last outing with the Job Centre, that they will not want me to go to college to get prepared for University, i also cannot afford to do it, even with a minimum wage job i would struggle to keep up with costs.

    I've been trying to weigh up my choices over the past few weeks to decide what i should do; now to the main point.

    I've been hearing more and more different things about ways to get into University. However, i'm trying to establish which ones are rumours and which ones are fact before i ring around soon to see if there is any option for me out there.

    I'd like to point out before you read ahead, i would like to apply for something i've heard of called a foundation year before the 3 years of the actual course (can anyone explain what this includes if anyone has any experience with these? And are these just for foreign students?)

    I've heard people can get into University based on personal experience and skills; now i've been computing, repairing and maintaining computers for 8 years now as a hobby, i have my GCSE in ICT and such. Will this be enough to apply for a foundation year leading to a full course? Of course, i'd like to teach myself a programming language relevant to the course while doing the foundation year, at the moment its a little hard to just be-able to sit down and focus and teach myself, i'd feel much more comfortable in an educational environment as right now i'm quite distracted by goings on in my life.

    Someones mentioned to me today that you can do a "fast track" course with some Universities over the summer. However i have no idea what these are, and so far as i can tell from searches, these are based on languages and maths and have no relevance to the courses i'd want to go on.

    My final questions really are; if i did apply in the next week for my 5 universities (do i need to go through the standard route or should i ring around first?) what type of reactions would i likely to attract? I don't want to waste my time applying if they just tell me no because i have nothing above GCSE's. Another fear is that they will just tell me to go complete a college course i just can't afford to do; will this be likely?

    I'm a very determined person, i just want to go to University to prove my ability within the industry i would like to work in; of course, the Uni experience is a bonus, but i'm more drawn to being able to learn about this and doing as well as possible.

    If it also helps, i'm also 23 in January.

    Anyway, any help is much appreicated. I'd just like to get someones advice on the best thing to do in my situation. Of course, my other options at the minute are find a low paid job (i'd find one for now, but i have ambition and don't want to spend my life in low paid work) or perhaps apply for an army career and get qualifications within there (which is something i wouldn't like to do, but may have to if Uni is completely ruled out).

    Thanks in advance.
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    I was in a similar position to you about 18 months ago; I am now a first year student at university. However there are differences, which I will not bore you with, that mean I will not be offering advice, this would best apply to me and we are no doubt different.

    I would suggest you start by deciding what courses are available, then decide which elements are most of interest to you, and then find universities which offer those courses. I suggest this because while most courses are similar, there are often differences which may affect your choice. Most universities web sites have tons of useful information on what courses they have available, often down to the details of the individual modules you will need to complete.

    Having arrived at a short list I would suggest you contact the Admissions office (ideally the Admissions Tutor) of your chosen universities and find out from them what they would require in order to offer a place next year. As you are over 21, you are classed as a mature student and this can give you some advantages in getting a place. However you can improve your chances by being clear when you speak to them why you want to go to university, why that particular course and why that particular university. I found when I went through the selection process, my enthusiasm was highly prized and helped me to get offers.

    They may advise that you already have sufficient qualifications and life experience to be offered a place, they may equally offer you a years’ sandwich course to prepare you for university study, however they may also suggest you get further qualifications. I would carefully note what they say, but if there is big variance, you might be better off speaking to more universities, as the admissions requirements vary greatly. In simple terms the more popular the university, the more they are likely to require. As a rough guide, for basically the same course, I was asked for between very little and a high level of achievement. This is the norm.

    I hope I have answered your question, but please feel free to ask suplimentals and I will try and answer them as well.

    Good luck with your application.
 
 
 
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