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My Experience with Clearing

For my A-Levels I did Maths, Chemistry and Biology. You’re thinking the same thing as me – why on earth would someone want to put themselves through that (I still don’t know to this day)!  I originally wanted to do Medicine but changed my mind to study Natural Science before applying to university. Once I started studying for my A-Levels it hit me that I didn’t enjoy science as much as I used to, and I called the Universities I applied to and had my offers changed to Economics. It’ll make you laugh to know that I now study Accounting and Finance. So let me tell you the story of how all of this happened…   Firstly, I want to say that the A-Levels that I did were the hardest exams I’ve ever done. The pressure on you is immense but trust me there is light on the other side! When I applied for university, I had every confidence in the world I would get to my top choices. I applied for Economics at Bath (firm) and Nottingham (insurance) which required A*AA and AAA respectively. My parents were telling me that I needed to have a backup plan but foolishly I didn’t listen.     I could barely sleep the night before results day, anticipating what was to be but that morning I woke up and was in for a shock. At around 7am we were preparing to go to my secondary school to pick up the results when I received and email from UCAS informing me that I hadn’t got into either of my selected universities. My heart sank. The first response from my parents was “what happens now”? We got to school as quickly as we could, and I opened my results to find I got BBB. Looking back on it, I’m incredibly proud of my grades but 18-year-old James didn’t feel that way one bit. I hadn’t expected to go through clearing and didn’t even know where to start but my teachers were fantastic. They took me to a desk with a computer, informed me of how to start and off I went. I called about 25 universities that day and was often met with straight no’s once I got through their phone queue. I recall one lady even chuckling when I told her my grades. When I got through to the University of Surrey, I was met by a warm, reassuring voice that offered me a place studying Accounting and Finance. I had a couple of offers from different Universities with limited time to decide so I prioritised which Universities I’d most like to visit and booked myself in to visit the university. I saw two universities the day after and was left feeing unsure but the minute I drove into the Surrey campus I knew it was the one for me.     I didn’t really know how to prepare for university, so I just threw myself in headfirst. I got involved in as many clubs and societies as I could, met loads of great people and let’s not forget had a very good time going out! After Christmas of my first year, I started to explore the different ways I could make money opposed to working mind-numbing shifts at Tesco’s. That was the start of my entrepreneurial journey. I started drop-shipping (importing goods from other countries in bulk and selling them on an e-commerce store) which gave me lots of experience in how to set-up a website, inventory management and was using things I’d learnt from my degree that week to implement into the business. As we approached exams and the end of first year, I started to wind it back as I was focusing on my studies and since COVID hit I never started it again.     However, that was just the beginning. Me and Owen, a friend from secondary school (who went to Bath to study Economics), met over summer to discuss the idea of making a mobile app. We always shared the desire to own our own business and a love of technology. We explored a few ideas but something that really resonated with us was the lack of compatible matches within first year student accommodation. We both had similar experiences in our first year at university, living with people completely unlike ourselves. Then our business was born (originally called Student RNTL – what a bad name right!). Here’s the logo:   It took us a while to get going as two 19-year-olds had no idea where to start and how to make an app. I emailed my personal tutor, and she loved the idea but as an accountant she didn’t know how much help she could be. So, she pointed me in the direction of Surrey Student Enterprise. I first met with Kat, the director, in October of 2019 and quickly started becoming involved with everything they had to offer. In reading week after our end of semester exam I stayed at university and attended a 3-day bootcamp regarding everything related to starting your own business. That was the start of what was to come. Our business, Roome, is the first platform of its kind. Using a machine learning algorithm, we match likeminded students with each other and their perfect student home. We launched our app in February exclusively to the University of Surrey as a test and now have over 1,000 users. We have matched over 150 students to a group of students and a room in a property that’s perfect for them! Not only do we help students, but we also massively help landlords and letting agents. With our student exclusive platform, they have access to a market unlike any other app where the only people viewing their properties are students. Check out our website at www.roome-uni.co.uk to see what we’ve come up with!     Since that bootcamp, I have won: over £7,000 from the University to help support my business, multiple awards recognising myself and the business, been selected to represent the University of Surrey in national and global competitions, entered into the SETSquared Incubator (the biggest incubator in Europe), got free office space for a year, forged partnerships with the Students Union and University of Surrey Lettings, become the first student in the UK to do their placement year for their own business, and most importantly launched a successful app to help thousands of students, landlords and letting agents. I’m just at the start of my journey but it wouldn’t have been possible without support from the University of Surrey.  

By James Buck


Conditional vs Unconditional University Offers

You may have already received an offer, or be curious about as and when you get that email asking you to log into UCAS to see your offer/offers, don’t panic if you are yet to hear back!   The university may provide you with one of two offers:   Conditional Offer – you have been given an offer to go to that university, but it is subject to you meeting the requirements to take the place Unconditional Offer – you have been given an offer, you will not need to meet the original grade requirements for you’re A levels, but there may be a few requirements you still need to meet.   Universities will let you know whether you have received a conditional or unconditional offer by these dates.   20 May 2021 – if you sent your application by 29 January 2021 13 July 2021 – if you sent your application by 30 June 2021 20 October 2021 – this is the final deadline for unis to make decisions on applications to courses starting in 2021   If you don’t hear from the university by these dates, sadly, you have not been given an offer for a place on that course, however if you had your heart set on that university you may still get a place through clearing.   Some things you may start wanting to consider before you go to university:   Accommodation   Most students stay in university provided halls for their first year at university. Some unis may let you select your room so you can coordinate with friends going to the same university, and others it may be completely random, so may be by chance whether you get along with your flat mates.   If you’d like to have more choice and go straight into private student accommodation, check out our guide on how to use Roome and how it can help you here, find full student properties, single rooms posted by students, and likeminded individuals to enjoy your living experience even more.   If you choose to stay in halls of residence for your first year, Roome remains the best platform for you to network and find likeminded students to live with to reduce your stress when planning your accommodation for your second year.   Budget   Check out our other blog on student finance here, which covers your tuition fee loan and maintenance loan. Try work out a general weekly budget that you can follow when you get to university, so you don’t go spending all your money in your first few weeks.   It can be a big deal for you, if you’re moving away from home for the first time, but it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll make. If you’re struggling with being homesick in the first few weeks, call your parents and friends from home, keep the contact up, and if you need to, go home for a weekend until you feel comfortable staying at university full time. You will meet lifelong friends, mature and become responsible, and get a degree to benefit your future.   I hope this blog has helped to inform you of the types of offers you may receive, we wish you the best of luck, and hope to see you on Roome in the near future.

By Roome on 02/05/2021


'Just One Cider' - If you don't drink alcohol, you're not alone...

They say pressure creates diamonds, but I’ve always felt peer pressure creates hermits. I’m not much of a drinker. Why? I’m not really sure, it’s not like I’ve never had a night out, it’s just not something I do often. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Being a uni student who doesn’t drink is hard- especially when all your friends do. It’s not that I feel judged, but I feel like an outsider. And sometimes - it sucks.   Why does it suck? Because I still want to hang out with my friends, go out clubbing, and have a good time. I don’t mind dancing sober, but when you’re the sober one you’re suddenly also the responsible one. It’s hard to let loose when you feel at any moment you could be holding someone’s hair back over a toilet. Even though no one has ever told me I am obligated to do anything, I’d be a crappy friend if I didn’t. And that’s just the truth.     It also sucks because people ask me why. Especially if they don’t know me well. This. Always. Happens. And like I said earlier, I’m not really sure, but I have a feeling it has something to do with a) My dad being a borderline alcoholic growing up, to the point where I didn’t live with him for two years, b) my perfectionistic tendencies telling me at 6am I have to start work tomorrow, or c) the fact that the average glass of wine has 175 calories.   It’s a bit heavy for a night out.       I also get the phrase ‘just have one’ all the time. As if it’s that easy. I don’t know about you but as soon as I have one glass, I want another, and after I have two- well let’s just say bank accounts go downhill from there.   So most nights, I stay home. And in the pandemic, I’ve stayed in my room. I don’t feel judged for not drinking, that’s not the right word. I feel left out. Left out because I want to go out with my friends, but it’s just not fun if you’re the only one who’s sober.    

By Laura Gainor 07/04/2021


8 Limitless Ways of Making Money While at University

For the most part, your maintenance loan won't cover all of your expenses and hobbies, so we've put together a list of things you can do to earn an extra bit of money during your time at university, some of these things you may even decide to continue after you graduate alongside your job or maybe even as a full-time income.   1. Get a Part-Time Job   Probably one of the most common and safest sources of income could be getting a part-time job around your studies, see our blog on Understanding your Student Finance Loans and Top Tips to Managing your Money for some tips for getting a part-time job at university.   2. Start Long-term Investing       Investing will not make you a millionaire overnight, it's a long-term play. The sooner you begin to understand the power of investing, begin building your portfolio, and understand how returns vary with risk the better. Here are a few examples of lower risk and lower returns to higher risk and higher returns:   Government bonds – lending your money to the government and they pay you better interest than you'd get in a savings account, but the interest is still very low. Corporate bonds – lending money to corporations and businesses, which is riskier than lending to the government but slightly higher returns. Dividend investing – buying stocks that pay a yearly dividend, usually around 3-6% per year, again not going to make you a millionaire overnight, but over time the dividends could end up paying you enough to cover all of your bills. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF's) – investing in a fund, so your investment is more diversified, lowering the risk involved, ETF's, such as Vanguards S&P500 ETF has averaged around 8.5% ROI per year over the last 20 years. Individual stocks - this is riskier but again could potentially yield higher returns, do a lot of research into companies and their financial statements before you invest.   These are just a few examples of ways you can invest your money, it's important to understand that having money sat in a savings account is worthless and less every year as prices are always inflating: your money will get you fewer things year on year.     3. Short Term Trading: Forex, Indicies, Commodities, and Crypto Currencies       Trading is much riskier than long-term investing, rather than investing and holding your positions for years, trading involves entering and exiting on a shorter time frame to capitalise on the volatility of the market. Two examples of trading are:   Day trading – entering and exiting a position on the same day Swing trading – holding a position for a couple of days up to a few weeks.   Trading is riskier in the sense that for the most part, to make money you will be using leverage, unless you have heaps of money to put in, you will be trading using things such as CFD's (contract for difference) or Options.    This is why trading is so much riskier. It'd called risk/reward for a reason - you consider the risk first. One of the most important aspects of trading is risk management, no matter how good your strategy is you need to manage your risk, so you can grow your account without wiping it out all one position. It is possible to make good money from trading but it will take a lot of time and dedication to get to that point, spent a lot of time looking online at free resources and use YouTube, there is so much free material out there. A good website to start on is Baby Pips, they have loads of free information if you're looking to get started. One top tip, something that I wish I was told: "the markets aren't going anywhere, so don't blow your money out of FOMO". Always start with a demo account, so you can practice what it feels like trading. 20% is the execution, 80% is the mentality.   4. Start Selling with Amazon FBA       FBA stands for fulfillment by Amazon, in this case, you are leveraging Amazon's services to make an eCommerce business. In short – you are finding products on Amazon, seeing if you can source them for cheaper, checking if you will make a net profit on each item after all the fees. You will then buy the products, ship them off to Amazon at a price that undercuts the other sellers, Amazon will then pack, store and ship the items as they sell.   There is a lot more to it, and things you need to check before diving in as you can lose money if not done correctly. Like with trading and investing, do a lot of research before diving in, here there is again a lot of free information on the internet, but mentoring can speed up the process and help you to avoid making mistakes, one bit of advice, never try to undercut Amazon if they are the seller of the item you are thinking of sourcing as they will just undercut you and drive your profits into the ground.     5. What is Dropshipping?   You will have to create a website and online store, doing all your marketing and ad campaigns, and sourcing the products. You will usually source the products from China (Alibaba) as this gives the best profit margins, and then with certain suppliers, you can connect them to any orders through your website. So, an order that is placed goes straight to your supplier and they ship it directly to the consumer (unless you order in bulk). So unlike with Amazon FBA, here you will never have to package and send products yourself. But customers may be unhappy as delivery time could be up to or even over a month. It can also be difficult to drive customers to your website unless you have a large social media following so you will need to know about making the most out of ads and have the money to spend on ads. This is where the risk comes in, you may spend £100 on ads but only get 2 sales and end up making a net loss. So here even with higher margins, they could be destroyed through the cost of marketing, so the risk is increased! Most dropshipping websites are created on https://www.shopify.co.uk/.   6. Freelance Work     You may have good design skills, be good at creating marketing content, or have a good voice or persona for audio or video reviews for ads. Websites such as https://www.fiverr.com/ can be used to promote your skills, so when someone comes across you they can pay you for your service and review it after. It may be difficult to get your first few sales but once you get some good reviews under your belt this can be a good way to earn an extra bit of money on the side.     7. Become an Affiliate   You may decide to become an affiliate, there are loads of different models and businesses that will offer affiliate deals, whether that's people using a link and buying products or selling a course this can be another good way to earn some extra money. You may decide to make a website, this can be done easily using Wix or WordPress, you can become an affiliate through Amazon and write in-depth reviews on products and leave your affiliate link, every time someone makes a purchase using your link Amazon will pay you.     8. Starting your Own Business     Just like we did with Roome, we had no idea how it would turn out or even how to go about starting your own business. The first step is to talk to someone within your university, the entrepreneurship lecturers, student support, the SU, anyone who can put you in touch with the right people to support you. Universities want to help, especially if one of their students has come up with an innovative business.   There are often ways that you can win funding from the university to help support you in your business venture, the opportunities are limitless.   If you’re struggling to come up with an idea, the best way to come up with one is to think of something that really inconveniences you in your day to day or something that would really help make people's lives easier, check if it already exists as a company and get going!   These are a few ways you can make a bit of extra money during your time at university. None of these are easy, they all take hard work and a lot of research but for the most part, are extremely scalable and leveraged models that you can continue for most of your life if you choose to. Again, none will make you a millionaire overnight but set modest goals and push yourself, the sky is your limit!

By Roome on 15/03/2021


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