17 January 2013 10:26 AM

Dos and Don'ts for getting on with your parents during uni holidays...

So, the Christmas holidays are over, and If you're anything like most graduates these days, you'll have spent them at the Hotel of Mum and Dad. For many this will have been your first trip back home since they dropped you off at the beginning of freshers' week.

The first visit home can be a bit of a shock to the system for both parents and students - suddenly you're swept from your newfound independence back into a world of folded towels and having to phone home if you're out past 10pm, while your parents are confronted with an adult version of their darling child, who's no longer willing to account for their every move and may have picked up new and different views on life. Cue a few fraught weeks of arguing over milk, cleaning rotas and whose turn it is in the shower - think life in halls but with added parent-child angst. So, if you've had a few clashes with the family, here's a few things to bear in mind for future trips back home - or for when you have to move back in after graduating!

Do:
> Be gracious - remember that it's your parents' house, after all! Offer to cook a meal, wash up, entertain Grandma or walk the dog.

> Prepare yourself for a different atmosphere from the one you remember - you may feel very different since moving away, but chances are your parents won't have caught up with this yet. Patience will go a long way!

> Spend time catching up with friends from your hometown - share tips on how to survive! Plus, some time away from your family will make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.

> Acknowledge how your parents and younger siblings are feeling, and be prepared to compromise on the small stuff. If your dad gets annoyed about people leaving dirty dishes unwashed overnight, is it really going to kill you to do it his way for a few weeks?

> Use the holidays to do a bit of graduate career research

Don't:
> Allow yourself to be pushed into a 'child' role again - although this might make your parents feel more comfortable in the short term, it's not conducive to a positive long term adult relationship with them.

> Revert to teenage sulking if conflict arises - you'll just sabotage your chance to show your parents that you're a mature, reasonable adult.

> Assume that because you've been to university for a few months and have taken a couple of debating classes, you are now in a position to be dismissive of your parents' religion, life choices, political affiliations or stance on the EU. Constructive discussion, yes. Hectoring, no!

> Get stroppy with them when they offer unsolicited advice. Of course, this is easier said than done - you may have the type of parent who wants to help you find your feet by asking 'helpful' questions like "Have you tried searching for a graduate job on the internet yet?" Grin, bear it and remember that in a matter of weeks you'll be back to the wonderful world of parties, cheap vodka and a diet of super noodles - so enjoy that home cooking while it lasts!

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06 September 2012 03:44 PM

The Survival Guide to Freshers Week: Practical and not-so-practical tips

Ah, Fresher's Week...if we could sum it up in two words they would be 'chatting' and 'queues'. You will spend the entire week non-stop gabbing away to all your new housemates, coursemates, randoms you pick up on nights out, and people waiting to register for their student cards. Which brings us neatly onto queues - you will queue for the aforementioned student card, NUS card, medical registration, library registration, etc. Not the most fun in the world when you've got a crashing hangover from one Sambuca too many the night before, but it's actually not a bad way to meet new people, which is the main point of Fresher's Week. After all, you'll be doing too much of this in subsequent uni years, so have fun and socialise while you can!

Practical stuff:

- Before you even think about cracking open that bottle of Malibu, make sure you register for the essential things that will keep you alive - doctor, dentist, student discount card, passport photos, library card, internet passwords, TV license, council tax exemption certificate.

- Store some local taxi numbers and the postcode of your halls of residence in your phone to avoid getting lost - nothing worse than realising you're stuck in a strange town at 3am!

- It goes without saying, really, but don't do anything stupid. 'Stupid' covers walking home alone at night, unprotected fumblings, accepting drinks from strangers, and anything else that would reasonably warrant a slap round the head from your mum.

Now, down to business:


- DON'T sit in your room and feel homesick. Contrary to popular belief, Freshers' Week isn't all about drinking - it's also about meeting people. Even if you're not the loud partying type, make sure you get out there and at least chat to your fellow quiet types - it's likely they'll be thrilled that someone has broken the ice, so don't be scared to strike up conversations. Feeling too shy to know where to begin? This video has some great tips for the nervous...

- Make sure you join at least one society. Societies can be a great way to meet like-minded nerds people with similar interests, so dive in. But don't spend crazy amounts of cash on signing up in your first week - many societies will let you come along to a few meetings first to get a taste for the action.

- Be open minded. One of the best things about university is the chance to make friends with people who are absolutely nothing like you in tastes, background, education or nationality. Don't automatically assume that you won't get on with the loud blonde girl with the double-barrelled name, the Morrissey lookalike with the hipster specs or the shy Japanese engineering student. Some of the greatest university friendships come from the most unlikely places, so expand your mind and give everyone a chance!

- Bring something to share with your new housemates on the first day. Everyone brings cakes or biscuits, so try something a bit off the wall - how about a football, party poppers, bubbles or a frisbee? It doesn't really matter what you go for - the point is to break the ice.

- Make sure you eat something involving fruit or vegetables to stave off the dreaded Fresher's Flu. At least once during the week.

- Make sure you register for all your classes on time - you don't want to start week two and be met with blank looks from your lecturers! 

- Most importantly, have fun!

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22 August 2012 10:58 AM

Postgraduate Study: The No-Nonsense Facts

Thinking about postgraduate study? Read this first! There are pros and cons to the postgrad route, and lots of potential traps for the unwary, so make sure you're informed.

The good...

  1. A postgraduate qualification can help you get into your chosen profession - for example, if you want to be a lawyer or accountant, you'll have to suck it up and do the necessary exams. Fortunately, you'll often be funded through these by your employer if you can secure a job with them first, so make sure you explore this option.

  2. If you get to the end of your course and decide you actually want to do something else, a postgraduate degree or conversion course can give you the qualifications needed to make the switch - think law, teaching, psychology or medicine.

  3. If you've got 1st class grades across the board and your whole world revolves around 14th century stained glass, cellular biology or solar physics, you might be one of those people who is cut out for a career in academic research. If you're one of those people for whom the world of academia fits like a glove and you can't imagine being happy working as anything other than a mildy eccentric professor, go for it! 

The bad...

  1. Not knowing what you want to do is NOT a good reason to do a postgraduate course. You'll end up in a pile of extra debt, and it'll be hard to explain to a potential employer why you chose to do the course if you didn't have a good rationale behind it at the time. You'd be much better off finding a job and saving up some money, or doing some voluntary work and building up skills and confidence.

  2. Postgraduate life is not like undergraduate life, so if you're thinking of doing another course just to prolong the student experience, think again. Being a postgraduate student is much more like having a job - more lone working and less socialising! It can be really rewarding, but it's definitely not the same experience.

  3. Postgraduate study costs a lot of money upfront as there are no undergraduate-style student loans available. In fact, there is very little funding to go around. To be in with a chance of getting funded, you'll need to be an exceptional student. It often makes better sense to either try and get a job in the field that will fund your studies, or save up some money and study for a postgraduate qualification part-time while you work.

  4. Sadly, many universities and education providers will try to convince you that their postgraduate courses are the best thing since sliced bread without giving you realistic facts about the tangible benefits of the course or the effect on your employment chances. Remember that they are primarily after your money! There are often far more postgraduate students taking a course at any one time than there are jobs available, but it's not in the course provider's interests to tell you that so they are likely to minimise it. If a postgraduate course promises the earth yet demands suspiciously low entry grades, it pays to do your research and go in with your eyes open.


In summary, there are three good reasons to do a postgrad course:

  1. If you absolutely adore your subject AND you have loads of research ideas, fantastic grades, glowing references from lecturers and the patience to write endless funding applications, by all means don't be put off. If you want to be a university lecturer, this is the necessary route, so go for it!

  2. You've known for ages that you want to be a clinical psychologist/solicitor/maths teacher and while you have good work experience and knowledge of the field, you have to do the course to get into the job you want to do. Generally speaking, if you are this organised at 21, you're unlikely to rush into anything blindly anyway. We trust you :)

  3. You have secured a job in a field you want to work in, and the employer is prepared to fund your course OR you have secured a job that means you can afford to fund a part-time postgraduate course alongside it.

No ifs, no buts. There are really no other good reasons to do a postgraduate course, let alone put yourself in debt in order to do so. We know it sounds harsh, but it's for your own good...

If you can't decide, why not take some time out? Remember that you can always go back to a postgraduate course in a few years' time, with more money saved up, some work experience and a better idea of what you REALLY want to get out of the experience.

To find out more about careers in academia, click here. To find out about choosing a career and assessing your options, click here.
 


27 July 2012 09:07 AM

Just Graduated? Pondering Postgraduate Study? Read On!

The lure of another year to make up your mind, or a wise choice for your future career? Postgraduate study can be both these thing - more often than not, at the same time!

If you're considering a postgraduate course - whether you want to spend another year studying something you adore, or you need a postgrad qualification for your chosen career - there are plenty of options to consider. Unless you're lucky enough to get funding, postgrad courses can be a bit of a pain to finance, so it's essential to make an informed decision.

We've asked experts for their top tips and advice, so watch the video below and take the first step to informed post-uni choices today.

Find out more CLICK HERE

Or click on the image below...

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30 May 2012 10:16 AM

70 things to do before you leave university (as well as research your career!)

Yes, we’re all about getting ahead on your graduate career research, but don’t ever let that stand in the way of making the most of all the other things on offer at university. It’s all about balance – any good employer will want to work with someone who’s had some fun and learnt something about who they are, as well as aced their exams and researched their career. Let’s face it, when else in your life are you going to have chance to devote your time to sleeping at strange hours, researching a subject you love just for the sake of it, joining obscure societies, organising charity events, surviving on cheap cider and whatever’s left in the fridge, and having house parties on a Wednesday night?

At CP Towers we’re all well into our old age - well, early twenties to early thirties; trust us, it feels old when you work with students for a living – and so we’re more than a little envious of all you carefree youngsters out there. So we decided to pass on our collective wisdom! Here’s our complete guide to the things you must, must do before you leave uni - and yes, we’ve either done them, or know someone who has, so get cracking…

1.  Get a degree! (this one is pretty important…)

2.  Wear the silly gown and hat and cringe while your parents hug you.

3. Feed the campus wildlife. Bonus points if you can befriend a specific duck/squirrel/rabbit.

4. Fall asleep in a lecture.

6. 'Borrow' a traffic cone, shopping trolley, or life-sized cardboard cut-out.

7. Make friends with the freshers and enjoy a brief moment of being revered for your wisdom and life experience.

8. Hand in an essay early. Feel smug.

9. Hand in an essay with seconds to spare. Sweat blood, curse printer. Swear you will never, ever do it again. Repeat at least once a semester.

10. Climb on the roof of your halls, preferably while wearing a superhero outfit.

11. Read Ulysses. Cos it’s what students do, innit?

12. Or, pretend you’ve read Ulysses and nod sagely whenever it comes up in conversation.

13. Make friends with the porters and the cleaners – make no mistake, they rule all!

14. Make friends with a lecturer. They know all the good pubs!

15. Go on a date with a lecturer (not one teaching your course, or they’ll get fired!)

16. Aggressively shush noisy first years in the library.

17. Have a frisky romantic interlude in the chemistry section of the library– no one ever goes there to do anything else, trust us!

18. Realise that you actually love researching your dissertation, and bask in the nerdy glow.

19. Negotiate with a librarian over an overdue book as if they’ve breached your human rights.

20. Form an unusual society.

21. Walk on grass that you’re not supposed to walk on.

22. Sit in on a lecture that’s completely out of your field, in the front row. Take copious notes.

23. Play ‘Human Buckaroo’ and see how many household objects – books, shoes, cuddly toys, cushions - you can pile onto a sleeping flatmate.

24. Turn up to a 9am seminar still drunk from the night before. Proceed to engage everyone in a spirited discussion despite the fact that you haven’t even glanced at the reading material.

25. Turn up at a 9am seminar still in fancy dress from the night before. Proceed as above. Except this time, do it in character.

26. Organise a flashmob. Water fight, bursting into song, dancing – you name it.

27. Do something really, really silly for charity.

28. Crash a campus event. The more formal, the better!

29. Attempt to blag your way into a club or a gig using a highly implausible sob-story.

30. Go for a hike in the countryside with a big group of friends. Take Pimms and sandwiches.

31. Go to a gig or a club night that you’d never normally choose, with an open mind, and boogie!

32. Participate in impassioned late-night alcohol-fuelled discussions about politics, life and the universe.

33. Take part in a student theatre production. Bonus points if it’s Gilbert & Sullivan.

34. Play a game of tag across the entire campus. Preferably in the dark.

35. Watch Withnail and I, and feel uncomfortably like you’re watching a documentary.

36. Get thrown out of a campus event. Preferably for something harmless yet outrageous, like building a human pyramid on the dance floor or attempting to kiss the bouncer.

37. Run for student office – or failing that, at least remember to vote!

38. Become on first-name terms with your local takeaway delivery driver.

39. Go out stone-cold sober – yes, really!

40. Swim in a fountain, river or other inappropriate body of water.

41. Set two friends up on a date…

42. …then watch it implode spectacularly

43. ...or realise that you’ll end up going to their wedding in a few years’ time

44. Invite your lecturer for a drink with your seminar group.

45. Hug your dissertation supervisor and give them a bunch of flowers. Thank them profusely for their saint-like patience in reading and re-reading all 10,000 words of your inane ramblings.

46. Go to a foam party. Preferably in a gay club. While wearing at least one item of neon or spandex clothing.

47. Realise that never again will you be able to devote this much time to pre-war French poetry, the Stanford Prison experiment, or dark matter. Enjoy it while it lasts!

48. Present a show on university radio.

49. Make punch using every form of alcohol you have in your flat. Preferably in a bucket, bathtub or other non-beverage-designated container.

50. Dress up as member of the opposite sex.

51. Host a house party.

52. Write for the student newspaper.

53. Do something outrageous that gets you written up in the student newspaper.

54. Take part in a protest.

57. Host a study group at exam time. See how many people you can fit in your room at once.

58. Instigate a standing ovation in a lecture – for maximum effect, this should be a lecture on something decidedly uninspiring, like study skills or business accounting.

62. Form a band, then grab all the other bands on campus and hold a mini-music festival.

63. Perfect the art of the toasted sandwich.

64.  Do all the touristy things in town – ghost tour, sightseeing bus, zoo, museums…

65. Kiss someone of a gender you wouldn’t normally go for.

66. Play a ridiculously elaborate prank on someone. Going into their room and turning everything upside down – from the bed and desk to the posters on their walls – always works a treat.

67. Go to a pub quiz. Participate with enthusiasm. Lose spectacularly.

68. Hold a Christmas dinner for everyone in halls just before you all head home for the holidays.

69. Organise a road trip during the summer break. Get a flat tire. Bicker endlessly with your travelling companions. Sleep in a tent. Then do it all again next year!

70. Finally, have fun and create some amazing memories. Yes, you need to think about the future, but not to the point where you get stressed about it! To make researching your career easy, visit www.careerplayer.com and get the inside scoop on how to choose your career.

 

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