2018 · Education

Applying to university: my experience

As I’m sat typing this blog post, it’s 2 days away from results day and now I realise that the subject matter probably isn’t the best thing considering my frame of mind right now. We’re (as in I or me) going to press on though as this is an idea I’ve wanted to discuss on my blog for quite a while now.

Applying to university is a massive process which takes a lot longer than one initially imagines. I, along with my peers at my college, first set up a UCAS account in May/June of last year and I had to fill out of my GCSE results, the A Levels I was studying, contact details etc. I was even allowed to fill out the 5 choices because you can change them as many as times as you like until the application is sent off. It felt surreal at the time, almost like it wasn’t going to happen and applying for university was just a myth that people talked about. It is real though.

Now, I must admit that choosing to do Politics at university was a different choice compared to what I was thinking 2 to 3 years ago. When I first joined my college, I wanted to do a Law degree. This then changed into a law and sociology degree and then just your standard sociology degree. I then thought maybe English Language and linguistics would be the best course for me until I eventually decided that Politics was what I wanted to study for 3 years.

Of course, the next part of the process was deciding which university would be right for me. I’m actually planning a whole blog post dedicated to choosing the right university as there are so many different factors in play and this would make the post far too long. I changed my choices so many times before the application was sent off. I dread to think how many universities made an appearance on my application before they were swiftly deleted and replaced with a different university.

And then of course comes the dreaded personal statement. The one where you have to sell yourself to the universities and make it seem like you’re so invested in your future course that you practically breathe it. Here is just a snippet of my personal statement which went through two drafts before it was deemed acceptable.

“From Brexit to elections to the conflict in Syria, political outcry is in the mainstream media continuously. Like increasing numbers of other young people, politics has suddenly become very immediate to me.”

Writing my personal statement was such a weird time for me because even though my college offered lots of support, it felt like there was none. Your personal statement has to be original, it can’t be plagiarised and there are certain quotes that you can’t say such as “I have been an enthusiast of _____ since I was a young age”. I remember when this was written in my personal statement and my tutor looked at me and said, “So you’ve been interested in politics since you were about 5?” That’s how they read it unfortunately, which means rephrasing happens a lot during your personal statement. It’s very tedious but it feels like you’ve accomplished something huge once it’s deemed acceptable and you’re ready to send your application off.

So, everything is done and dusted. Your choices are filled out, your personal statement has been approved and universities can start to send you offers. This begins the process of waiting for offers to come through. I was quite lucky that I heard from all 5 of my choices in a rough time of 2 weeks but in reality it felt like about a year. What’s even more annoying is if you have a set university in mind already that you’re desperate to firm and they take ages to respond and end up being one of the last you hear from.

If you know me or follow me on twitter, my firm choice was/is Queen Mary University of London and I decided that was going to be the uni I wanted to go through before I had even finished my application. If anything, I struggled more with choosing an insurance university because my mind and heart were so set and stone on Queen Mary. In the end, I picked Brunel University based on the fact the entry requirements were the lowest out of all of my offers.

So, my experience of applying to university was a long one. It started in June and ended in November of 2017 and now A Levels are done and the time has come to await results. I’ll be doing a blog post at some point after tomorrow about my results day experience so keep an eye out for that!

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