Before You Begin

If you have been accepted onto a SWAP Access Programme and you're waiting to get started, there are a few things you could be thinking about or doing to prepare: 

- College Web Site 

If you haven't already fully explored it, take some time to look through the web site of your chosen college. Especially take note of the support available to students. Colleges offer support for everything from managing disabilities to coping with financial matters. You may also find links to useful documents such as the college student handbook or find short video clips or a "virtual tour" to watch that will help you get to know the place a bit better before you even arrive for the first day of classes. Check on You Tube for clips about your college, as well. Student-made clips as well as college-made clips about specific subjects and events can give you an insight into student life and what it's like to study there. 
 
- Financial Support <034_the_pound_sterling_symbol_vectorcopy_big.jpg>
Your college will keep you right about the process of applying for the bursary. In most cases, you can apply for your bursary over the summer so that everything is in place for your start date.  You can also make an appointment with your college's student finance office and/or advisers to make sure you know what you are entitled to claim - e.g. college hardship and childcare funds, Child and/or Working Tax Credits, Disabled Students Allowance, etc.  

Many full-time students also work part-time to help make ends meet. If you haven't already arranged for part-time employment, check with your college and nearby businesses for opportunities to do a bit of flexible work around your college schedule. 
  
- Disability Support 
If you have (or suspect that you may have) a disability, including learning disabilities such as dyslexia, it is essential that you talk to your college's student support office as soon as possible to discuss ways in which they can support you through your studies. This is something that you may be able to do even before classes officially begin.  

Don't worry that acknowledging a disability will disadvantage you in any way. In fact, if you have a disability that is unsupported, you may put yourself at a disadvantage, so be sure to let the college know your needs as soon as you can. 

It is not at all uncommon for SWAP students to discover a learning disability upon returning to education. (You can read about one such student on the Case Studies page). The sooner the college knows about a disability, the sooner they can put things into place to help you be as successful as possible, so don't delay.

- Child care
If you need to arrange for a place in nursery or after-school care, you should begin arranging that as soon as you have confirmed your place at college (or as early as the college permits). Some colleges have nurseries on site, but places are strictly "first come, first served" so you need to get in early. However, even if you don't secure a place in the on-site nursery, colleges will sometimes still provide you with funding to cover the costs of professional childcare providers. Check with your college for more detailed information and guidance on how to proceed.

- English as a Second Language 
If English is not your first language, you may feel that you would benefit from language support during your course. Your tutor or student advisor can direct you to the relevant college provision. Please also ensure that you are aware of any English language requirement that may be requested by colleges and universities that you wish to apply to next year, so you can work on achieving those this year. (For example, some institutions may require that you show evidence of your IELTS score if English is not your first language.)

- Volunteer 

You may find it beneficial to gain more experience in your chosen field, especially if you are planning to apply for particularly competitive university courses such as: 
 
* Medicine
* Veterinary Medicine
* Dentistry 
* Social Work 
* Primary Education 

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, to network with professionals in the field and, of course, to help others. You can learn about opportunities from Volunteer Scotland (or sites such as Volunteer Glasgow or Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire). 

- Relax
Truly, the best thing you can do before you begin your college course is to make some time to really relax and enjoy the summer. Take a break, spend time with your friends and family and rest your mind. You'll be more refreshed and ready to tackle your coursework when September comes.
 
  <summer_fun_relaxing_123rf.jpg>
about us