DECEMBER

- Time Flies... 
Time flies when you're having fun studying hard. By now you have completed around 13 or 14 weeks at college and hopefully you have been both studying hard and having some fun.

Your college will probably close for the winter break around the 3rd week of December and resume classes around the first full week of January. Check with your tutor for exact dates. 

There will be plenty of coursework to hand in before the break and you may have internal assessments at this time, but you must also give some time and attention to finishing off your UCAS Application and Personal Statement


- Preparation for Higher Education (Prep for HE) 

Choose wisely: 
As stipulated in your SWAP Learner Agreement, which you received at your SWAP induction, it is recommended that you apply to all five university partners if at all feasible. In any case, you should apply to a minimum of three different institutions within our partnership. You should also ensure that your options require a range of entry qualifications, if possible (in other words,  avoid choosing five courses that all ask for the same profile grades). 

You must email the SWAPWest office with an explanation if:
  • You plan to use fewer than 3 choices*
  • You plan to apply to only one university partner
  • You play to apply to a university outwith the SWAPWest Partnership
    .
  • In your email to SWAP, you must provide:
    • Your college name, class name and guidance tutor name
    • A complete list of your UCAS choices (course codes, uni names and entry requirements) 
    • Your reasons for applying as above


* Exceptions to this rule are made for Access to Nursing students whose options are limited by the number of universities offering nursing courses. Your backup plan would be HNC/D in Care and Administrative Practice, Social Care or Health Care, or similar.

All other Access routes with limited university options (e.g. primary education, social work, optometry, etc.) should select a range of backup options from the available progression routes.

Speak to your class tutor or contact the SWAPWest office if you require assistance.



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EARLY DECEMBER: 
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Finish your Personal Statement and UCAS application, and submit it before the college's deadline (usually by 2nd week Dec)

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UCAS and Personal Statement

If you're planning to progress to university next year, you will be preparing to complete your UCAS application before your college closes for the winter break. (NB: The deadline is January 15th, but your college tutors need time to review your application and personal statement and provide a reference for you.) 

Remember: Although it is possible to apply for courses after January 15th, universities are not required to consider late applications and any universities and/or courses that are in high demand are unlikely to consider any applications received after this date, so do not delay.




What happens to my UCAS Application after I send it off? 
After your UCAS Application is complete and you've paid the UCAS fee (£24 in 2018-19), your named referee (usually your class tutor) will be notified so that s/he can supply a reference in support of your application.

Final checks will be made by the college, and then the application will be forwarded to UCAS. Check with your class tutor for confirmation.

The universities on your list will each receive a copy of the application for consideration, and you will begin receiving responses in due course (usually by March/April).

A full explanation of this process can be found in the Prep for HE UCAS Application Guide
 and on the UCAS web site.
 


PHE11 - Listening Skills (download Word doc)
It may seem a bit odd to "practise" listening, but anyone who has attended a 50-minute+ lecture will tell you that there's more skill required than you might think!  This workbook is designed to help you think through the challenges of taking in information (and making good notes) from the spoken word, and will help you to develop strategies to help you make the most of your time in university lectures.
 

PHE12a & 12b - Reading Skills (see below)
There are some major differences between reading for pleasure and reading for academic work. 
When you progress to higher education, you will find that the reading lists get quite a bit longer than any you may have been given at college.  

You may also be surprised to learn that it is often up to you to decide which 5-10 sources to select from a much longer list.  The aim of the Reading Skills workbook is to help you develop a reading strategy, to become more adept at choosing your sources and to learn to read with a focus. 

This is one of the most important skills to develop for university-level study, so don't stop with this workbook; ask your tutor for more information about choosing and using academic sources for uni. 

PHE12a - Reading Skills - Part 1 
(download Word doc and then complete the online form linked below) 

PHE12b - Reading Skills - Part 2 (complete online form) 



PHE13 - Misc Prep for HE 
(complete online)

or

PHE13 - Misc Prep for HE (download Word doc)

Use this "Miscellaneous Prep for HE" form to record completion of any Prep for HE activities you may complete offline in the months of Aug-Oct. For example, you can use this form to record: 

  • Completion of your UCAS personal statement and your application to university. 
  • Offline activities, such as organising and conducting mock university interviews with your classmates (e.g. for the professions such as Primary Education, Social Work, Nursing, Medical Studies, etc.) 
  • Attendance at university Open Days or other visiting opportunities
  • Further reflections on your learning experience so far
  • Additional Prep for HE materials allocated to your curriculum area (e.g. Nursing or Medical Studies)
  • Anything else that you consider to form part of your preparation for higher education. 
 


All done with your UCAS Application and caught up on your Prep for HE? Then...
 
- Relax 

At this time of year, it's sometimes difficult to find time to relax and unwind, but it is especially at this time of year that you need to do exactly that. The pressures of studying, working and making time for family and friends are never greater than during the holidays. And if money is tight, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If you are struggling with money worries, talk to your college's Student Finance office as soon as possible to find out if there's help available.  


- Reflect 

In a way, the winter break can be a precarious time for students. With all of the festive activities, nights out and exchanging of gifts, money pressures can get on top of you. Doubts may creep in about your academic abilities. You may begin to think that you have made a mistake or you aren't coping well enough. Rest assured that these are completely normal (and very common) thoughts and feelings to have, especially when you have a little "down time" to think back on the whirlwind you've been in since August.

Take a deep breath and a clear look back at how much you have accomplished so far. (Now might be a good time to re-read your Study Diary entries from the beginning of the year.)  Before you take any drastic steps, make a commitment to return to college in January and make an appointment to speak to your tutor or other college support staff about your concerns. For independent advice and guidance, contact the SWAPWest office on 0141 564 7206.
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