University applications (what I wish I had known)
As a first-generation college student, I am the first person in my immediate family to go to university. From open days to picking a course, through to results day and the possibility of rejection, right up to whether a potato peeler is an essential piece of kitchenware, this was a journey I have had to navigate, for the most part, blind. For both me and my family, university has continued to be an unbreakable cypher. When I first packed my bags and set off towards university, I half expected Idina Menzel to appear and start singing because I truly was going ‘Into the Unknown’. Today’s blog post is dedicated to addressing the anxieties and worries you may have surrounding how to apply to university, using my own experience to help you feel more comfortable as you prepare to take this daunting step into higher education.
The period of time in your A-level experience when people start applying to university can be a stressful one. It can be an extremely competitive and pressurised environment, and often you feel like you should be constantly comparing yourself to others. The key thing here is to focus on yourself, I promise things will become clearer and you will find yourself making decisions, like narrowing down choices of where to apply to, naturally. When looking at where I was going to apply to, my own situation was a unique one. Firstly, I studied an extended BTEC in musical theatre at college *gasps of shock*, alongside an A level in English Literature. And secondly, the vast majority of my friends were applying to vocational courses, and from the beginning of my time at college, drama school seemed to be the accepted destination for all students. For me, the idea of gaining a place at a university, let alone one as prestigious as Warwick, was a completely alien one.
Another thing I struggled with was the idea of how accessible university was, especially the formidable ‘Russel Group’ universities. The reason that university seemed so unattainable to me was because I had a preconceived notion of what it took to get to university, that no one in my family could either agree with or disagree with, reject or deny, simply because they did not know themselves. If you are in the same situation some advice I would give is to utilise all the resources available to you, if you cannot ask your parents, ask your teachers. Some of the most beneficial conversations I had about university were with my English teacher. If you have access to a careers advisor, use this service. Visit the university website, you can even email the university directly (I know!?). Department leaders and staff should be more than happy to answer your questions, and you can almost always find their contact information on the university website (almost always alongside their upcoming book release or latest publication). If I had not made use of all the resources and facilities I discuss above, I would have never hit send on my application. You will find a lot of places, such as Warwick, have an extremely flexible admissions process that recognises effort and talent. Not to intentionally include an English Literature pun, but don’t judge a book by its cover.
Finally, I want to reiterate a point I made earlier; focus on you. To be governed by the aspirations of anyone apart from yourself, your peers, your teachers or even your family, is a recipe for disaster and unhappiness. It will only be you studying on that course, at that university, at that time. This is one point in your life when you can, and should, be unapologetically selfish.
If you want to discuss anything raised in this blog post, feel free to send me an email!
Until next time,