University FAQ

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Now that the UCAS deadline has come and gone (scary I know) students everywhere will be faced with the choice of where to accept and begin the process of applying for accommodation. I get questions about university a lot from readers (especially in the run up to September) so I've assembled my most frequently asked questions here in one handy place. Obviously everyone's university experience will be difference but it's useful to hear from as many people as possible.

What are you studying?

I'm currently studying the Masters of Chemistry with Industrial Experience degree program at the University of Edinburgh. 

It's a 5-year long undergraduate degree in which the 4th year is spent completing a year of work for a company.
Where did you apply for and what made you choose Edinburgh?

I applied for Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Glasgow, Strathclyde and St. Andrews. I received unconditional offers for all except Strathclyde who gave me a conditonal that I met. I was attracted to Edinburgh because it had the most flexibility in the degree choices (20 undergraduate chemistry degrees) and was the city that I liked the best.

I'm stuck between chemistry and chemical engineering what are the main differences?

From my understanding chemists study how a reaction works/occurs whereas chemical engineers study how to control a reaction and manipulate it to occur on an industrial scale. You should be able to contact people from the departments at the university you want to go to who can give more information.

From what I remember it's relatively easy to transfer between the two up until the end of first year but that will obviously depend on the university.

How many hours do you have a week?

I have between 21 and 24 hours a week depending on my timetable. I have 12 hours of labs a week and 7 lecturers. The amount of time I spend in tutorials varies every week.

Do you enjoy it?

Wouldn't change it for the world!

What did you look for in student accommodation?

I wanted something that a) looked nice, b) wasn't too far from campus and c) wasn't too expensive. I also wanted to share a bathroom as kept things cheaper. During first year I lived in East Newington Place but also applied for South Clerk Street and Sciennes. I really liked it!

Is it worth it rather than staying at home?

I've never stayed at home during university so I can't really comment but personally I wouldn't like to. For me, the freedom that living independently gives me is invaluable. I can walk to university in 30 minutes and it also means that I can go on impromptu nights out etc without having to worry about how I'm going to get home. 

How easy was it to work around university?

I worked in McDonalds during my first semester and then in a pharmacy until the beginning of my third year. Then I gave up working to focus on my studies. 

Whilst I really struggled at times I think it was the best thing I could have done because a) it was good for my finances and b) I think having so much work experience on my CV really helped me stand out when I was applying for my industrial placement. 

That being said if I could do things over I wouldn't work during my first semester to give myself time to adjust to university life.

Did you take a gap year?

No I didn't. I probably should have as I started university when I was 17 and felt pretty excluded from a lot of social events because I couldn't drink. I just didn't really consider it at the time.

If you have any questions about university (especially Edinburgh/chemistry related) then please feel free to leave me a comment, tweet me or email me!

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