Exploring your options for higher education as an A-level student

Eve explains how it’s been harder to choose a university this year, because open days have been cancelled, and she hasn’t been able to talk to college staff in-person about her options. However, she explains that virtual open days have been helpful, allowing her to explore more university options more easily, and that she has found it useful to reach out to her teachers over zoom to get advice about her plans.

Eve talks about how she chose a university during the pandemic, without being able to attend open days.

Video transcript

Hello, I'm Eve and I'm currently studying for my A-levels. As I'm going into Year 13 in September I'm currently exploring my options for progressing to university. However, this has become harder due to the Covid pandemic. Today, I'm going to be sharing my experiences and tips for exploring university options in the face of the pandemic.

Some challenges that I have faced during this exceptional time include not being able to attend university open days. This limits the element of experiencing a university, assessing the area, and the university’s feel in choosing a university and course. Not being able to physically speak to staff in college has also had a large impact on my higher education search, as they offer valuable information, and it is very helpful to talk through your options with an expert at college.

Similarly not being in college doing my A-levels has negatively impacted on my motivation for aiming for university. This is because studying has become less social and exciting, and more screen-time focused and independent. However, there are shades of hope within this, and here's some things I've learnt from tackling these challenges.

Virtual open days offered by universities have been really helpful. They have allowed me to explore more universities or higher education options more easily as they eradicate the need for travel. Despite this, remember not to overload yourself with open days, I found it useful to be realistic in which universities and courses appealed to me. Maybe speak to your parents and guardian or teachers to get their opinions so you can rule out or look at particular universities.

Another thing that made this easier was online resources such as Microsoft Teams and email, which have been invaluable to communicate with members of staff from college, and if you have a shy temperament, they may even be a preferred method of communication. Try not to be afraid to use the technology, I found it really vital.

Finally, you will have heard this time and time again, but remember to take care of yourself, physically and mentally, to make sure you aren't burning yourself out or self-neglecting. I found it really important to try to remain optimistic about the future. I took time off from looking at screens, I take a day or at least half a day off doing work to take some time to take some time for myself to relax and do things I enjoy like physical exercise.

To summarise, I think it's important to try and stay positive at this time. If you have an idea for your future education prospects, you can still get there now. Remember to use whatever resources you have available to you to help you get there. To combat closed universities attend virtual open days, use technology to communicate and, most importantly, take care of your physical and mental health.