An Update; UCAS Application and University Offers

Hey there! It’s Monday, which means the week starts all over again. I’m not usually one for those sickly sweet ‘new week, fresh start’ mantras, but it IS a new week and there is always opportunity to start something new. I know here in England we’re locked down, but you could try a new dinner recipe, find a new route to run, or just care for yourself a little more. Last week I was super busy and stressed, but it did bring some unpredicted news and success.

My week started off with an exam; NCTJ is the ‘National Council for Training Journalists and I’m studying a Level 5 Diploma in Journalism with them. I sat my first remote exam and was so nervous, but being at home meant I could have a coffee (not great for adrenaline) and give my dog a big cuddle right before it began. As a distance learner, I’ve learnt a lot regarding self awareness, regulation and being in control of my own education. I find that I don’t recognise my progress and struggle to motivate myself, but hint: timetables and structure are key! I hope to write about remote learning, showing that education is more than the ‘traditional’ and ‘maintstream’ route.

As some of my readers know, I’m taking a gap year to focus on the recovery of my mental health and wellbeing. Though, faced with Covid-19 restrictions, having complete freedom became impossible. The restriction of liberty got me down when we initially went into lockdown; The whole A Level fiasco and the uncertainty ahead. It was a pretty common ground, everyone felt this way. Except I watched my peers consolidate University offers and move into their new ‘homes’.

However, isn’t hindsight is a beautiful thing? As budding students began Fresher’s in groups of no more than six, I was teaming up with young journalists for the launch of a digitial news-site, steelcitystandard. Restriction isn’t a negative, if you treat it as a new opportunity and that’s exactly what I did. Following the launch of SCS, I began my UCAS application, drafting my personal statement and scouting for a personal reference. By September 12th my finished application was sent off to be determined.

It took two months before any of my choices were even acknowledged and when they were, it was a ‘recognition of application’ email. I didn’t consider the anxiety of the time between the application and the offers, as it isn’t an ‘active’ part of the process. Yet in that time, I found myself logging in and out of UCAS Track twenty times a day. Being stuck in this ‘no-man’s-land’ was affecting my confidence and every day I was losing hope. I had a big exam coming up, my application reliant on those results, but days before it this happened…

… An email came through from UCAS, something along the lines of ‘There’s been a change in your application, please sign into UCAS Track”. An offer had finally come through; It was unconditional. I cried tears of happiness and pinched myself in disbelief. Six days later, my final four choices came back, all unconditional. University is something I’ve spoken about since being around seven or eight years of age. For a while I dreamt of being a Ballerina, but also to be an Author, a Teacher, a Journalist. For a little girl, I had big dreams and one of them is about to come true!

I’ve been asked, by online followers, what I wrote on my application, to get five unconditional offers. I didn’t have any predicted grades, as I recieved my A Levels in the summer. The NCTJ qualification is highly accredited in journalism, which on top of my personal statement, gave my application strength. One word of advice, ‘Time’. Take time on your statement: plan each point, have each draft proof-read and make sure you are true to yourself. Universities don’t want an Orthodox. The ‘I’ve wanted this career opportunity since I could walk’, is unrealistic and doesn’t show any enthusiasm from your part. Go back to the drawing board and find your original self.

So, what now? A year between now and University. It seems like an awful long time, but I have goals to hit. Confirming my choice, continuing with studies, continuing with therapy and all the ‘fun’ things in between. Can you believe I’m eighteen and haven’t had a ‘big night out’… It’s on the list. University educates academically, but is home to the wildest party.

Don’t hesitate to comment any questions. Or your best Uni memory? If my personal university journey is of interest, do you want a series of blogs, vlogs and regular updates?

Heather Marie

Follow me on: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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