Friday, 28 October 2016

A Guide to Applying for a Master's

It's practically November, so if you want to do a master's degree then you should already know what course you want to do and what university you want to do it at. Applying to your chosen course isn't an easy process. This isn't down to a grueling application process but your own nerves. As someone who has been through it before, I'm going to share a few tips I picked up along the way.

  • Begin the application early, but don't rush to submit it. Take your time to consider it. It can be daunting at first. 
  • To avoid feeling overwhelmed, break the application down into manageable chunks. Only complete one section at a time. 
  • Check the grade requirements for your chosen course. If you're likely to make it then you only need to apply to that university. Unlike your UCAS or CAO application, there's no need to hedge your bets. If you're on a borderline grade then consider applying to another university with a lower requirement, for your own peace of mind. 
  • Take advantage of your university's resources. Now's the time to meet with your personal tutor to get their advice, send them drafts of your personal statement and generally stress out in front of them. 
  • Create an academic CV. It's a slightly different layout to the one you use to apply for jobs. Again, use your university's resources. They literally pay professionals to help you, or rather, your fees literally pay these professionals. 
  • Choose who you want to be your referees and send them a courtesy email in advance. It's best to pick your personal tutor and a teacher who knows you. Don't go back to someone from first year just because you got a good grade in their module. 
  • Earmark some money to apply. A lot of universities charge a £50-75 application fee. 
  • Don't freak out about the personal statement, universities are more interested in your academic and extracurricular achievements. However, if there's something that's held you back you should make sure to disclose it. 
  • Ask a friend to proofread everything. 
  • Try to forget about your application once you've submitted it. The length of time that it takes to receive a response isn't an indicator of whether you'll be accepted. There's no rule of thumb about how long is 'normal' to receive an offer. 
  • Once the stress of applying is over you need to crack on with funding applications. What's available will depend on where you're resident now, where you'll be studying, and what you'll be studying. Search the internet, ask your personal tutor and ask the careers advisory service. If you're going to go to a different country then make sure to change the Google search engine you're using, for example for the UK, for Ireland etc.
One final piece of advice is that, if you meet the grade requirements, you're highly likely to get it. This is postgraduate education, not The Hunger Games. So try not to worry. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Review: Pamper Therapy Sponge

Let me begin by tell you all that I never use makeup sponges, but I was really excited to try the Pamper Therapy one because I'd heard great things about it. It's really easy to use. You wet the sponge and squeeze out the excess water. Then you dab it into your foundation and gently roll it over your face. Doing this prevents the sponge from slurping up all your make up. I used about the same amount of foundation as I would normally use.
The wider base of the sponge is best for doing large surface areas, like your cheeks, whilst the pointed tip is good for more precise areas, like around your eyes. I was really impressed at how quickly it applied foundation and how even the finish was.  The sponge is also super soft and was delicate against my skin. It was so gentle it reminded me of a baby's toy.
It isn't suggested on the box, but it's well known that you can use these kinds of sponges to apply perfume. They're really handy if you're using miniature bottles that don't come with a pump spray. I would still wet the sponge because it will stop your perfume being absorbed too much. If you are going to use a sponge for this purpose make sure to keep it separate from any other sponges you use on your face in case the perfume irritates your skin.

Pamper Therapy is selling their sponges on Amazon for £7.46 and they're running a 15% discount if you order two. This sponge would make an ideal stocking filler for Christmas. It would also be a good 'secret santa' present. Or you could treat yo'self and yo'friend for no reason at all.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Budget 2017

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the budget happened weeks ago seeing as so much of the 'leaked' information has been over-discussed. Truly it was a budget for everyone and no one. The government are in too much of a shambles to deliver any hard policies. Most of us will only gain the price of a sandwich per week. On the other hand, we should be grateful that this wasn't another austerity budget. Hopefully this is the steady beginning of better times.
It's worth remembering that budgets don't operate in a financial vacuum. This budget might not put much into your pocket, but seeing as sterling is flatlining we can all pop up north for a bit of Christmas shopping. Shop prices will soon adjust to account for Brexit, so if you're planning on making some savings do it this side of the new year.
Okay, financial advice over, here's what we saw.

USC: This is perhaps the smallest cut to taxes that can still qualify as a cut to taxes. USC has gone down to 0.5%, 2.5% and 5%. A grand total of 0.5% has been brushed off the rates (I feel the term 'shaved' wouldn't reflect the gentle nature of these reductions). The band at which you begin paying 2.5% has been moved from €18,668 to €18,772 - a meagre €104.
Pensions and social welfare: Payments are up by €5 per week, which is €260 extra per year. Whether you'll actually get the full €5 will depend on the type of social welfare you receive, for example, if you're on Job Seekers' and you're under 25 you'll only get a couple of euro.
First time buyers: FTBs will benefit from a tax rebate scheme whereby up to 5% of the purchase price will be refunded, up to a maximum of €20,000 (so a house that costs €400,000). Snag, it's new build only. Snag, you need a mortgage, cash buyers are excluded (perhaps not a massive snag for the majority). Snag, it won't apply to houses which cost more than €600,000.
Here's the kicker, Noonan, the absolute joker, came out with a line about how demand for new houses will increase the supply of these houses. Which completely ignores the current housing crisis which is about more than FTBs. It's about the families who are living in small flats that they bought during the boom years, before they had children, who are now trapped in negative equity. It ignores that the building sector actually IS building those luxury little starter homes in fabby-doza apartment blocks, it's the family homes supply that's banjaxed because yuppies will pay out their backsides to escape the dire rental market. All the Minister for Gobshite has done is introduce a measure that will support the building industry, keep the property market bubble inflating, and carry us off into cloud cuckooland.
In a country that already has a great supply of demand, it's a wonder he managed to float that one past the Dáil. Next he'll solve a drought with a bumper pack of disposable cups.
Corporation tax: Remains at 12.5%, as it should. The operating costs in Ireland are significantly higher than other EU countries. Please no one kid yourselves that if we raised it to come in line with our continental cousins that we'd experienced a rise in revenue. There'd be a globalised-company-sized hole in the figurative door to mainland Europe.
Gardaí: 800 new gardaí are on the books. Let's just hope they're paid properly otherwise it'll be more strikers on the front line.
DIRT: It'll be coming down to 33% by 2020, so be sure to bank all your USC savings.
Sugar Tax: This won't be introduced until 2018. The brilliant thing about this measure is that they didn't even try to disguise it as an independent decision. Expect to see new legislation that has been, shamelessly, copied and pasted from British law.
Some have hailed this as disappointing and that it shows that there's no real commitment to tackling obesity, it's all about introducing another tax. Those people are absolutely right. Of course the government have no desire to change the nation's health, look at their own expanding waistlines. If you can't tackle your health how on earth will you improve 4.5 million people's health?
Cigarettes: Who is still buying packets of cigarettes? They've gone up 50c
Goodies: Alcohol and fuel were left alone.