With A level results day 2018 fast approaching, there are some key questions for anyone hoping to start university this September:
- What is it like to be a student?
- Which university should I study at?
So, I will be writing a series of guest blogs, over the next week, reflecting on my time at Cardiff University (I’ve just graduated with a BSc in Psychology).
In this first blog I’ll talk about why I chose to study at Cardiff, and in later blogs I will focus on the opportunities Cardiff has given me outside of undergraduate teaching, graduation and my future plans.
The first thing that influenced me in choosing to come to Cardiff was actually nothing to do with the university at all! Many years ago now, I spent a month doing work experience on a farm in (very) rural South Wales, not far from Cardiff. The warmth and kindness of the people, both on the farm (where I also lived for the month) and in the local village, left me nostalgic for the friendliness of South Wales once I returned home to London. When it came to choosing a university several years later, the memory of my month on the farm put Cardiff on the university shortlist.
— Surrounded by lambs, Penllyn, South Wales, March 2010.
Of course, once I started seriously looking at different universities, I discovered that Cardiff has a lot to offer! It’s in the prestigious Russell Group, which was important to me, and the quality of the research in my academic school is world-leading. Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Cardiff University are ranked 2nd in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 (more info about REF here). In addition, Cardiff University is ranked 5th in the REF 2014.
However, what really finalised my decision to study here was both the option to do a placement year and hearing about some fascinating research happening at Cardiff (the impact of botox on experienced emotion) at an offer holder open day. The placement programme gives you the opportunity to spend a year working in a typical job for a psychology graduate. This could involve working in a team with practitioner psychologists (e.g. clinical, educational or forensic psychologists), working in a research setting or working in area typical for psychology graduates, such as human resources or marketing. This means you finish your degree with workplace experience that’s relevant to the career path you want to follow. This is essential if you’re hoping to follow a practitioner psychologist career path, as postgraduate training courses in clinical or educational psychology ask for relevant experience in addition to an undergraduate degree. Hearing about experiences current students had on their placements and how it was proving to be a positive factor in their applications for jobs and postgraduate study, convinced me that a placement year was a must for me (something I wholeheartedly stand by having now completed my placement year).
In addition to all of the above, Cardiff is just a really pleasant place to live. It’s a small, compact capital city, which makes it really easy to get around – most students live within easy walking distance of the city centre. There’s a wealth of entertainment available; clubs, bars, live music and international sports events, but also lots of decent coffee shops, the beautiful Cardiff Bay and some stunning parks if you fancy something quieter. The small size of Cardiff also means you’re never far from beautiful countryside; the Brecon Beacons National Park is about an hour away by car, but there is also much to see just outside Cardiff, such as Garth Hill and Fforest Fawr.
Good luck with your A level results next week, wherever you decide to spend the next few years. If on the day your results aren’t what you were hoping for, remember that Cardiff University has opportunities available through Clearing. Find out what courses are available for entry in September 2018 by visiting us here or calling us on 0333 241 2800 once you’ve received your results!
Some photos of my favourite places in and around Cardiff:
— A sunny autumn day in Bute Park, October 2014.
— A mere 10 minute walk from the heart of Cardiff City Centre, Bute Park, April 2015.
— Roath Park Lake frozen over in the snow, March 2018.
— Horse riding in Fforest Fawr, August 2017.
— Waterfall walking in the Brecon Beacons, May 2017.
— Fresh air and sunshine, somewhere in the Brecon Beacons, May 2017.