Why I chose Creative Writing at Warwick
I always knew that I wanted to study English at university, because it’s always been my favourite subject ever since I can remember, and I have very vivid memories of Year 2 Literacy lessons which consisted of our teacher giving us each a picture (the one I really distinctly remember is of a pair of kittens with ribbon around their necks) and telling us to make up a story about the picture – my idea of buckets of fun. However, even though for years I’ve harboured the dream of making a career out of writing, I never wanted to study Creative Writing at university until I was in Year 12 and started taking the idea of university more seriously, because I was a bit arrogant sometimes and very strongly of the opinion that creative writing was something you were either naturally good at or not and paying £9,000 a year couldn’t just automatically make you into a novelist. Of course, that’s true: it can’t. My degree doesn’t guarantee any kind of career, whether it be in writing or publishing, but it does give me a lot of experience and opportunities to finetune my work that I wouldn’t have if I was just working alone. So when I started looking around at universities and realised that I could do a joint degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, my mind was made up – I would still be able to study Literature, and study Creative Writing, and it was perfect.
I looked at five different universities which offered English Literature and Creative Writing. (I also looked at just studying English at Cambridge, because my school persuaded me that if I had the option I should choose university reputation over a course I loved, but that’s a whole other story that you can read about in a previous blog post). These universities were Warwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Newcastle. I went to open days at all of them so that I could get a proper feel of them to see which one I would like best. I loved Warwick from the outset (and I’m not just saying that) but for a while it was a toss up between Warwick and Birmingham. Both of them were beautiful campuses – whilst Birmingham is more classical-old-buildings and leafy-green-spaces-beautiful, Warwick has so much hidden beauty that it has a charm of its own – and I really was stuck as to which one to choose. I went back to both of them on Offer Holder days where I was given the chance to experience Creative Writing seminars and workshops, and eventually I knew that my decision was made. My firm choice was Warwick.
So here’s a breakdown of what swung my decision in the end:
– Passion. Warwick seemed so much more passionate! This was so important for me and was really shown at the Offer Holder days. The seminars and talks at Birmingham just didn’t compare. The excitement about Creative Writing was really tangible and engaging, and I couldn’t stop smiling.
– Millburn House. At Warwick, we have a building called Millburn House, which is the home of Creative Writing, History of Art, and Theatre Studies. It’s a short walk from the centre of campus so it’s a really nice, quiet atmosphere. In the Creative Writing section, there’s the Writer’s Room – which is where a lot of CW seminars take place, and is a really cosy, spacious room with sofas, a whiteboard, a projector, a mini-library and all sorts of other equipment to encourage productivity – as well as a small space to socialise or work independently, and the offices of the Creative Writing staff. It’s so lovely to have a home of our own that isn’t just the English department, and Birmingham didn’t really have anything like this that I saw.
-The tutors. Both Warwick and Birmingham’s tutors consist of published authors, but I didn’t get to meet as many of them at Birmingham, whereas at Warwick I met more of them and they were all really welcoming. I felt a lot more confident that I would get on well with the tutors at Warwick.
-The reputation. Warwick has one of the best, if not the best, reputations for undergraduate Creative Writing. It fights it out with a couple of others (such as the UEA – but I live in Norfolk so I wanted to move away for university). People know that it has a good reputation for the subject, and this means that it will hopefully impress employers more. And of course there’s the sense of pride that you studied there.
-The statistics. If you look online at websites such as Which? Uni you can see some of the statistics about course satisfaction etc – all good for Warwick. But what interested me the most was the percentage of students who received an offer. Warwick is 19%, Birmingham is 81% (even the UEA is 69%). There’s just no competition there. Warwick only admits around 35 Creative Writing students a year, and the application process is rigorous, including a portfolio of written work and an online interview (nothing scary – don’t let that put you off!), so you know that if you get in it’s because they believe that you have potential and you deserve to be there. It’s a small enough group that they know you by name, but big enough that there’s plenty of people to get to know and socialise with. When I got my offer, and knew that I’d been up against an awful lot of people in order to get it, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
-Finally, I just had this sense that I would be happy there. I can’t describe it or quantify it, but overall, Warwick felt more like home, and that’s all there was to it.
Obviously, this is all completely subjective and I’m sure that I would have been happy at Birmingham had I chosen to go there, but for me, I know that Warwick was definitely the right choice.
If any of you are coming to the Open Day on Saturday 24th, make sure you drop by the English Department where I will be waiting, with a few other English students and tutors, to answer any questions you may have about English, Creative Writing or just Warwick in general!