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Head Start

Get a Head Start

Whether you are studying at University for the first time or perhaps returning to study after a break, Head Start will help you identify and develop your skills, as well as your confidence.

Available to all undergraduate and PGCE applicants who have been offered a place in September on one of the university’s courses, Head Start is a short online programme designed to prepare you for HE study at undergraduate or postgraduate level by exploring the following:

Our award-winning undergraduate Head Start to University course has been updated. New sections cover settling in to University life, money and digital skills.  For each section you complete, you’ll gain a digital badge and, when all sections are completed, you’ll receive an e-Certificate of Achievement that is recognised within the ‘Career Ahead’, the university’s employability award. 

“I have learned valuable information and I feel like I am that step closer to being ready for the challenges university brings.” – Head Start student

How can I access Head Start?

Undergraduate and PGCE applicants will be invited to register on Head Start prior to starting your course. Email communications will go out to applicants with instructions for how to access and navigate the online programme. 

Access Head Start

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Head Start to University?

Head Start to University is an online course that enables students to gain a better understanding of what University life and study involve, and to start to develop the academic skills needed to become successful university students.

Why should I do it?

The course will help you bridge the gap into Higher Education life and study. It will give you an early insight into the University of Cumbria’s Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) and expectations around University learning, academic writing and referencing, all of which are essential skills at undergraduate study level.

In a survey of students who completed Head Start in summer 2016, 96% stated that Head Start had helped them feel more confident about studying at university and the same number would recommend Head Start to new applicants.

Do I need to attend university to complete Head Start to University?

You don’t need to attend university to complete Head Start, which is done entirely online. If you are a student with a firm or insurance offer with University of Cumbria, you will be emailed details about the course before you start your programme.  You will be able to work through the content and tasks of the module from your own device. 

What is Blackboard Open Education?

Blackboard Open Education is a platform on which our Head Start courses are hosted and is the system you will use for this course.  Don’t worry if you haven’t used a virtual learning environment like Blackboard Open Education before; you will be sent online guidance and can contact us for assistance.

Can I contact someone if I have a problem with accessing or completing the course?

Yes. Along with instructions, you will be sent email contact details for the Head Start team. Any Head Start query can be directed to the Head Start email.

When can I register for the course?

The course is open all year round.  An email communication will be sent out to firm and insurance applicants with more details about enrolling and navigating the course. 

How long will registration be opened for?

The course is open all year round.  If you are a going to be a University of Cumbria student, we really encourage you to complete the course before you start your main programme. 

How long does it take to complete?

Head Start is designed so that you can work through it at your own pace. Therefore, there aren’t any fast and hard deadlines.  However, to give you an indication of time commitment required, the Head Start Team suggests that students might spend around 3-5 hours working through the Head Start to University content and completing the tasks. This might be done over a short 2 week period while other students might prefer to spread the work across 3 or 4 weeks to fit with other commitments. The time needed and pace will very much depend on your previous experience, knowledge and the time you have available.

Is it appropriate for me?

Head Start to University is offered to all level 4 undergraduate students about to start a main programme of study with the University of Cumbria in September 2018. Whether you have come straight from school, college or you are a mature student who hasn’t undertaken any formal study for some time, Head Start to University is relevant to you. Whether you have studied for A levels, a BTEC Diploma, an Access Course, or any other level 3 qualification, you should find Head Start useful.

If you are an integrated foundation year (level 3) student, we will contact you with details about your Transition to University course nearer the start of your programme.

What do I get if I complete the course?

There are 7 units in Head Start to University and for each unit completed, you will achieve a digital badge.  Once you have collected all 7 digital badges, you will then achieve a certificate of completion. 

Can it help me secure a place at university if my grades are below prediction?

Not really; Head Start to University does not carry any UCAS points that would help secure a university place. However if, following results day, you need to talk about your case with the Admissions Team or course tutor, or you apply and are interviewed for a different course, completing Head Start will show your commitment to university study.

What happens if I don’t complete?

Don’t worry if you are not able to complete Head Start to University. There are benefits even if you only manage to go through some of the content and tasks. Your place on the main programme of study at the university is not jeopardised in any way if you don’t complete Head Start to University.

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