10 tips for choosing a university

Its the Monday after the Harper Adams summer ball and everyone is packing up, ready to leave their uni houses for the summer. I still can’t believe how fast the four years have flown by. But university life carries on and its just 2 weeks until the next potential new students come to campus for the Harper Adams Experience.

My Harper Adams Experience weekend 5 years ago!

So I thought I’d put together a list of things I found important when I chose my uni.

1. By this point I assume you have an idea of which subject you want to study. So start off by having a look at university league tables to see which universities have a good reputation for your chosen subject. Check out https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings

2. Consider what sort of campus you’d like to live and study at. City or rural? Big or small? This will help narrow down your options, though don’t rule any out just because of this.

3. Open days! Visiting a university is a great way to see if the campus atmosphere is right for you. It also gives you an opportunity to meet lecturers and current students. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

4. Study the course module lists. Lots of universities will offer a course in your chosen subject, but the modules in that subject might vary. Have a close look at the modules each university teaches to find the course that best fits your interests.

5. Go on a university taster day. Some universities run a taster weekend (e.g. Harper Adams Experience) where you can stay in campus accommodation, meet staff, and go to lectures – not forgetting the night out.

6. Look around the academic facilities. For you Agrics, is the access to a university farm important to you? Does the farm focus on a particular enterprise that you’re interested in? Different university farms will excel in different areas. Laboratories, lecture theatres, and the library are all other important areas.

7. I’m sure you’ll want to spend all your time in the library, but look at the non academic facilities, mainly the accommodation, catering department and leisure facilities too.

8. Although you’re mainly there to study, student life is an important part of your time a university. So consider the social aspect and have a look at the student union websites to see which clubs, societies, nightlife and events are at each uni. A good work/play balance is important for a healthy student lifestyle!

9. Placement year?! Placements can be a great opportunity to experience different aspects of industry and enhance your C.V. but it may extend the time it takes to compete your course. Consider if it’s something you would like to do as part of your degree.

10. Ultimately, you’ll want to be able to secure a good job after you’ve invested years of time and money into your degree. So consider the career prospects and employability statistics of each university.

Good luck!

Finding your voice

Its been a busy few months at university. After 5 long months of working on my dissertation, it is finally finished! Hand in day was stressful to say the least, having spent the previous night – and early morning – at the university leavers dinner. Then it was a quick trip to the assignment office to hand in the dissy before attending the Royal Agriculture Society of England’s AGM. I had been asked to present my speech on the wool industry at the AGM, an experience which was daunting to say the least. Thankfully it seemed to be well received and I had the opportunity to meet some great industry leaders. I have been public speaking since I was 11, and it still isn’t easy, but its a skill that has helped me in so many ways. And its thanks to YFC.

Back at my YFC, public speaking has always been a marmite sort of competition. It starts with Junior Reading, a competition for the youngest members, where they read a page from a children’s book in front of a judge and steward. As members get older, the competitions move to speeches, debates and even improv, with the added pressure of an audience. Each year, members would gather at the village hall, under the misconception of a ‘mystery meeting’, only to discovered they were attending the public speaking practice night. Before they knew it, they would have agreed to join one of the teams, and be attending twice weekly practices in the run up to the first round.

But by the end of the season, the members were hooked and would be the first to put their names down for competing the following year. It helps improve confidence, and whether it be for that school presentation, job interview or just to win debates down the pub, the skills gained from public speaking competitions are invaluable. So if you’ve not already experienced the trails of debating the best make of tractor, given a speech on your favourite sheepdog or had a heated game of Just A Minute, dig out your best blazer and get involved!


The Final Countdown

Every term, my housemates and I have the same conversation: “is it really the last week of term already?”, “where’s the time gone?”, “what’s the bar theme this week?” and this morning was no exception. As the days count down to the Easter holiday, there’s more of a sense of dread than relief this year as dissy hand ins are just around the corner. The atmosphere in the library has changed as students are building up to the most important deadline of the year, and those with extensions due to trial work are smugly sipping their lattes whilst the rest are downing their 5th expresso in the 24 hour room. I am one of the former, with an extra two weeks grace thanks to the unavoidable delay lambing put on my trial, but I too can’t escape the stress as my final assignment of the year is due tomorrow – something I should probably be working on right now. But in true Pipa fashion I am practicing my procrastination skills, something I have become quite a master of over the past 4 years, and have chosen today to start my blog.

English was never my strongpoint at school and I’m not someone you would describe as tech savvy, but sharing my experiences of agriculture is something I’ve wanted to do since my university placement year, where I spent most of my mornings teaching school children about farming and being shocked by how little they had already been taught. But farming isn’t exactly a main feature in the daily news and so unless you live in the farming community, its not something you particularly know about.

This got me thinking about what I will no longer know about when I leave the university community. As a final year Agric, I have the opportunity to hear about the latest experiments, speech to researchers and meet leading people in industry, all of which most farmers don’t get to do when they enter the world of work.

So I thought I’d blog about my time as an agriculture student. I’m sure this can be classed as revision right?