Thursday, 16 August 2012

University: The Application Process

It's results day. The day in an A level student's life that either makes or breaks you. At least, that's how everyone makes it out to be. It doesn't have to be that way. Through my own experience, I want to help you, however well your exam results came out today.

I remember my results day like it was yesterday, even though it was two years ago. I had a firm choice university, Southampton, and I had my insurance choice, Aberystwyth, a million miles from home. I opened my results envelope, and I wept. I'd been rejected by Southampton and I was left with Aberystwyth. My grades weren't horrific, ABCC, but I'd been so accustomed to success that coming out with Cs actually disappointed me, and I was inconsolable for a fair few weeks afterwards, I couldn't believe I'd let myself and my family down. Although I only realised until after, I didn't let anyone down. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was lucky enough to get a place in any university, even if it wasn't as high profile as Southampton.

I was moving halfway up the country for 3 years. I couldn't have been more scared if I tried. I was crying myself to sleep, scared out of my wits. I should point out I've always been a home girl and I only wanted to move to Wales providing my parents moved with me. As the days went by, they decided they were staying put, and I faced the consequences. I Googled where my accommodation was (2 miles from campus, I might add), where the nearest Lidl was, and so on and so forth.

A week after results day, I called the university to ask them to defer my entry for a year, so I could have a year to think about the massive step I was taking. It was the easiest process, one phone call and a few days later I received confirmation from UCAS that I was set for moving in the next year.

If you take anything from this post, take this advice - don't take a gap year unless you have a plan. Unless you have money set aside to do something with your year, travelling, whatever. I had no plan, no money, nothing. I spent 6 months unemployed, trekking to the Jobcentre every week and feeling like the lowest form of humanity, and 6 months working in Homebase, being manipulated and downtrodden. If I could erase that entire year, I would.

As the months after results day reeled by, I started to mull over whether Aberystwyth was a good idea for me anyway, as I'd been born in south Wales, anywhere further north seemed alien to me.

I reapplied through UCAS for the next year, this time applying to 3 local universities and Aberystwyth again purely because I knew they would accept me. I received all unconditional offers and I had all the choice in the world, so I went for the university nearest to me. I went to college in the same city, I knew the area like the back of my hand, I loved the place, but the university wasn't the greatest in the league tables.

Next month, I'll be in my second year at that university. No, it hasn't been easy while I've been there, but that's another story entirely, I might make a separate post about that if anyone wants to hear it.

The stages after results day weren't easy for me, but it's safe to say that throughout the process, I was treated like I deserved to be treated. I was confused, and the process was moulded around me to accommodate that. Aberystwyth immediately filed my deferred entry without contest, UCAS responded just as fast. I cancelled my deferred entry and started the application process again, again without any arguments. I received speedy offers from the universities because I already had grades behind me, even when I'd already applied to two of them the previous year. Student finance accommodated my changes without complications.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is if you're confused after your results today, you're not alone. Far from it. I've been through the works with my uni experience. I've had nothing handed to me on a plate, I'm not middle class, I'm not being funded by dirty rich parents. I'm doing all this on a student loan and as many grants as they could offer.

I wish you all the best of luck and happiness, whatever you choose to do from today. Whatever happens, make sure you're happy!

2 comments:

  1. great post! such an off concept for me, here in Australia there are many universities in each city so people only move states to study if they want a change, or if they want to move to a bigger city. I guess the only people who have to move are people who come from the country, but they dont have to travel too far, and often people will stay at home and make all their classes on one or two days so they don't have to commute every day. I can think of at least 15 unis where I live (Melbourne), so i'm guess I am lucky I have never had that problem.

    http://kitschsnitch.blogspot.com.au/

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