Friday, 26 June 2015

How to pick the right University for you

Firstly, congratulations on deciding that you want to attend University - It's not an easy choice to make for everyone but you've already taken the first step! I have put together a step by step guide to help you find the right University and right course for you:

  1. Select a subject area (e.g. Sport)
  2. Decide whether it is important to you if you stay near home or can move away. (If you are staying near home your choices can become narrow very quickly).
  3. Try looking at some league tables, for example The Guardian or The Complete University Guide. Note that different University's will rank better for different subjects and under different headings (e.g. student satisfaction, graduate prospects, entry standards etc.)
  4. Use the UCAS Website to Find a Course - look at lots of different courses and different Universities (even if you are planning to stay near home).
  5. Print off some courses and highlight things you like/dislike in different colours. You will start to notice a pattern, for example course content (more science/sociology) or method of examination (essays/exams/practicals).
  6. Find a course that has the most of what you like - it is unlikely that you will love everything about one course but you can like most of it.
  7. Research that particular course and the Universities that offer it.
  8. Narrow down the Universities by checking out their websites, googling news stories, going to open days and chatting to people who have done that course or have studied something else there.
  9. Sometimes courses appear more or less the same, so think about their geographical location - would you like to live by the sea, or in a big city, or in a rural area?
  10. Make your choices on your UCAS application.

This can be quite an emotional time and the process can be quite stressful - be prepared for that. I try to deal with any emotional decision by looking at it logically at first, so following the process above can help with that. Here is another guide from The Complete University Guide.

Most importantly though is that you talk to people about it all - your friends and family can provide a support network and can be great to bounce ideas off of. Don't set your heart on one course at one institution - be aware that things may not develop in the way you intended them to, for example budgets can be cut and thus less places offered. 

Once you have an idea of the course and Universities that you are interested in, BOOK AN OPEN DAY! These are great opportunities to work out whether you like the University, the course and the local area - remember you will live there for at least 3 years!

Any questions please leave a comment below - otherwise, happy searching!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Get into Sport

Get into Sport is a programme set up by the University of Bedfordshire to encourage more students and staff to be physically active. All you have to do is sign up for FREE and you can attend any and as many as the sessions on the timetable as you want. 

Wheelchair Basketball
The sessions are mostly non-competitive and fun, and can be a great introduction into sports you haven't tried before. There are qualified coaches at the sessions to provide hints, tips and coaching. Some of the more traditional sports offered at the Bedford campus include cricket, badminton, tennis, football, dodgeball, table tennis and futsal. However there are sessions for sports that you may not have had an opportunity to try out - ultimate frisbee, canoeing/kayaking, rowing, handball and wheelchair basketball. 

Another good thing about Get into Sport is that if you have a coaching qualification, you can apply to be a Coach, or an Activator if you don't have coaching qualifications, meaning you can be paid to run the sessions! 

I have attended a few sessions and they are great fun! After a while you tend to get the same people turning up each week, meaning you get to know them. Being on a sports course means I meet lots of other people from sports courses, but through Get into Sport I have met and made friends with people from other courses too.

Human Table Football

Friday, 12 June 2015

FitBit Fan!

I have fairly recently bought a FitBit - and I love it so much that I bought one for my Mum and one for my Partner! There are other brands available such as the Garmin VivoFit, the Jawbone UP, Nike Fuel Band, Polar Loop etc. but I chose to invest in the FitBit. 

FitBits are activity trackers that monitor various things throughout the day. There have been adverts on the TV recently that you may have seen. Now, when I heard that this technology was going to be commercially available, the Sport Scientist in me couldn't wait to get my hands on one! They can track your steps, heart rate, sleep, floors climbed, exercise and more! Our family are now in competition with each other to be top of the leader board at the end of the week for most number of steps taken. You can input what you eat and drink and it can aid with weight loss/stability/gain and is a great motivation tool whether you appreciate the science behind it or not! (Note: I know they are not 100% accurate or reliable, this isn't a blog arguing for or against them - it's just my experiences).

I like the fact that I can set it up to record my stats (and map my activity) when I'm training. I play a lot of badminton, cycle and have recently started running again and it's been fascinating to analyse the stats once the workout is done, and over time. Being on a sports course means that I am often pulled into the labs to do some sort of exercise training test, which is great fun, but being able to access that sort of information outside of a lab really excites me! (I know...)

It excites me so much that my dissertation is looking into the potential for the use of activity tracking technology in PE. I thought I would write a blog on here in the hope that people could share their experiences and thoughts on using this type of technology in the classroom. Please leave feedback in the comments section below - I'd love to read your thoughts! The thought of bringing Sports Science into Schools with such a simple device could really enhance the pedagogies employed by teachers and could bring PE into the 21st Century!

Friday, 5 June 2015


Peer Assisted Learning is a peer mentoring scheme at Beds. I was a PAL leader this year and we had PAL leaders in first Year, so I am going to give you an insight from both perspectives. You can find out more about PAL by clicking this link: 

As a first year student, induction week can be quite overwhelming in terms of meeting lots of new people and being bombarded with information, most of which you won't remember! PAL leaders are with you in induction week to answer questions you may have, give you an insight into University life and to 'show you the ropes'. You will then have weekly group PAL meetings until Easter. 

As a first year it was great to speak to people who had been there and done that the year before, so they were great at answering questions - especially when it came to assignments and studying. We had sessions on assignments, the best places to go for a good night out, thinking about careers - all sorts! After the first few weeks we were asked to suggest things to talk about in PAL so the sessions were tailored towards us. Plus when you are wandering around campus for the first few weeks not knowing many people it's great to recognise a face and say 'Hi' as you walk past each other - it makes you feel more at home.

As a PAL leader it's good to make contact with the new first years. I have spent a lot of time this year developing sessions to help my first years and I made sure it was all tailored towards them and what they wanted. For example, my group were particularly struggling with a Physiology module so we spent some time working together to understand concepts, finding helpful resources to use if they got stuck again and getting to know how each person learns best. This was a really memorable session for me as I felt like I had really made an impact on their learning - they left the session understanding things they previously hadn't and had the knowledge of where to look if they got stuck again.

Being a PAL leader is not only great for your CV but it helps you develop you confidence, planning and time management skills but also the ability to think on your feet. Some weeks I had planned a session and all the group could talk about was something else, so thinking on my feet I ran a session on that so the group felt more comfortable and at ease by the time they left.