Experiencing an Applicant day as a potential student is entirely different to actually being at an applicant day as a current student. It is an entirely different perspective and helps you to realise how far you have come yourself. It brings back memories to when you were in their position.
I am one of the very many Lancaster University Management School Student Ambassadors, wow that’s a long title to say but definitely not as long as the list of students that came to visit the University. We arrived early at 8:00 am (it’s early for a university student) to be briefed on our activities for the day. I was on the welcome desk first; I was required to register all of the fresh-faced applicants. I remember when I was in the exact same position. I remember being very shy and not sure what to do with myself. Yet just last week I went to an applicant day with my sister (she’s in that position now), she was very shy and not wanting to talk to anyone whereas I was there asking for booklets and numerous questions. I was a bit overenthusiastic but I was just so excited for her to start this incredible journey. It just shows how much university changes you, just witnessing this new found confidence in me! Seeing all of these shy and timid applicants made me realise how far I have come. Before university, I couldn’t even get a bus on my own and now I’m getting trains to London by myself, I couldn’t even talk to the takeaway employee on the phone, now I can spark up a conversation with someone who sits next to me on the bus.
At 11:30, I was scheduled to be in an Accounting and Finance information lecture. It is always daunting to be in an academic talk when you haven’t got anything prepared. I didn’t realise I was speaking in the talk but it was truly amazing giving my insight and experience of Lancaster to the worried parents and students. The fact that it wasn’t prepared made it less script like and parents could tell that I really believed in what I was saying. I was first asked why I chose Lancaster University and I explained that it’s such a safe campus and there are porters in every section of campus all the time so it is incredibly safe and secure. I liked this aspect as being in the first year and living away from home can be quite scary and knowing that there is always a point of contact a few minutes away puts your mind at ease. I also explained about the mass amount of support they will have if they decide to study here as there is the careers hub for constant support with interview techniques and there are constant workshops which range from improving your CV writing skills to mathematics classes to improve math ability.
One of the most relevant questions that were asked was “what differentiates Lancaster University’s Accounting and Finance course to other Universities?”. I think one of the biggest differences is the minor scheme. Lancaster University is one of the only universities to do the minor scheme. This means that you do Accounting and Finance but also an Economics minor and a free minor. For my free minor, I did Mathematics. This means that you have lectures in economics and maths as well as the Accounting and Finance ones. It allows for more flexibility; for example, I can now take modules in maths during the second and third year or modules in Economics in the second or third year as I get a few free choice modules. This allows you to gain a wide range of knowledge and learn things from other subjects, you aren’t limited to just Accounting and Finance. Another thing that differentiates the course is ACF 350. This is an extra module where they basically assess your employability. You get marked on your CV and you take part in a business game. This helps you develop upon skills such as teamwork, quick thinking, and creativity. You then needed to write an assessed report on the outcomes of the game.
Another question that was asked was “Should I take the placement year course or not?”. The placement degree isn’t for everyone; it depends on who you are as a person. Now I remember on my applicant day at Lancaster University, the lecturer giving the speech said that many students get absorbed in the working world so struggle to get back into studying when they have to come back to finish their degree. He said that many don’t want to come back and some students actually haven’t come back. Students may get offered a job at the company they work for, they then accept it and don’t come back to University. Now, this creates a problem as they haven’t actually got that degree, they can’t move to a different company as they haven’t finished the degree qualification. So they’re stuck in this company. Another factor was that it takes up a lot of time and it can be a lot of pressure actually trying to get a placement. This is what made me decide not to do the placement year as I felt studying would need to come first and as I have never done Accounting and Finance before, I would need that time for studying and wouldn’t be able to balance them.
There are advantages to the placement year though, it’s a great chance to earn money, learn new skills and get great connections with employers. They may even offer you a job after your degree. It also helps you to decide if that line of work for you or you may decide you want to work in a different sector. It helps you to decide whether that employer is for you. You could go and work in one of the big four and decide that you don’t like working in large companies and opt for a smaller company. There are advantages and disadvantages of the placement year as there with everything. If you think you can handle it, then definitely go for it as long as you come back! Don’t make that mistake.
The day was then finished with a few campus tours….It was amazing to see an applicant day from the other side. It was me a few years ago, a nervous sixth form student choosing my University sat in those lectures finding out all about Lancaster. Now I am a Lancaster University students talking to those in the position that I was in 2 years.
Top tip: Apply to be a Student ambassador, it can be a real eye opener and it’s a chance to get the word out about the University and express your positive views to parents and students who are in the same situation that you were a few years ago. It is a chance to give back to the University.