I GOT IN!
After a gruelling decade of educating myself, I am here to tell you I finally did it people. College Girl has officially ‘graduated’ from her college years, and is preparing to leave them far, far behind her in the search of bigger and better at University. WOOOOOOH! For my American counterparts I believe this would be referred to as College, not University, but I am not 100% sure… ANYWAY, I decided to study Print Journalism BA Hons which is a full time course here in Nottingham, as an altercation lead me to change from my first option which was Fashion Communication and Promotion. However, coming to this decision was NOT an easy one and the difficulties I faced from the day I received my results to the day I sit here writing to you may have possibly been THE most important, stressful and emotional few days of my entire life. If I didn’t share this time of my life with you all and give you some handy tips on how to avoid my mistakes and handle your own then I honestly wouldn’t be doing my beloved followers any justice.
SO, we should probably start at the beginning. August 18th, FIY, worst, day, ever. The actual grades for my A level results were supposed to be released on that morning at around 7, and we were meant to find out whether we were actually successful or not at around 8. Hoooowever me, being the sneaky overachiever that I am couldn’t wait and found a link via a Facebook friend which allowed me to log on and find out whether I was successful or unsuccessful good hour before I had even found out what grades I’d gotten.
So, this turned out to be my first major mistake. Do not ever be too hasty, always wait the alloted time to work out what grades you have received so you can sort out what options you truly have. Knowing you were unsuccessful for a place will only worry you, put you into hysterics and make you make the wrong decisions before knowing all the facts, like I stupidly did. I discovered I was Unsuccessful to study FCP (Fashion Communication and Promotion) at Nottingham Trent University and became hysterical, inconsolable was probably the better word. I called through to Clearing almost immediately and had no idea what grades I had or how many UCAS points I had actually gained which made the phonecall painfully short and unhelpful, I was told to ring back when I knew what grades I had obtained. A very stressful hour, let me tell you. Then when I received my grades, finally, I called Clearing straight back and after sitting in a queue of what I remember to be about 150 people, including myself, I finally reached a woman who attempted to provide me with some options and other courses I could take related to Fashion. I was only left with Fashion Design and Fashion Textiles and Accessories, neither of which were anything to do with fashion journalism, pr or promotion, which is what I honestly had my heart set to do, yet, in my flustered, emotional flurry I asked to provisionally accept a place onto Fashion Design just to ease the bubbling sensation of being a complete and utter failure. However, the woman, clearly tired, bored and annoyed from the prior 149 calls before me told me I wasn’t able to do either as I didn’t have enough UCAS points…my hysterics reconvened.
My next piece of advice, always check and count your OWN Grade to UCAS Tariff point conversion for yourself and always clarify with a 2nd credible source, don’t just believe the first thing someone tells you, it isn’t necessarily correct!! I was told I had 270 UCAS points which left very few options for me and as my course and many I wanted to apply for only accepted 300, I believed that the end of the world was nigh, but I was wrong! After getting up, wiping my crazy-tears and going down to speak with the Clearing department at Trent face to face, I discovered I had in fact 310 UCAS points, a pretty big jump from 270 don’t you think?
Next BIG piece of advice, always try to go and speak to somebody in person as soon as you get your grades/University decision. Now this is a hard one because not all of us are lucky enough to have such easy access to their chosen Universities, so take this with a pinch of salt if you can’t, but if you are able to go and speak to a Clearing representative or a Course Leader in your Uni’s chosen department in person, then do, trust me when I say it makes aalll the difference. Although they will try to be as helpful as they can on the phone, they will always be able to do so much more for you in person, whether it’s tracking down the head of your chosen courses department or speaking to a Clearing Advisor who usually tend to come few and far between to get your options and choices straight from the ‘horses mouth’, being there in the flesh forces them to really give you the help that you and so many other students need at this crucial time.
After figuring out that although I did in fact have 300 UCAS points for my FCP course the department didn’t accept AS levels, Key Skills or General studies which was in fact what helped to make up my 300 points, I had to quickly move onto plan B. I had to find a different course and find it FAST. Next point, always make sure your chosen University actually accepts the courses or qualifications your studying before applying. I was under the impression that my chosen course accepted UCAS points awarded from an Extended Project or EPQ Qualification that they offered at my college, only to find out that they didn’t. Although I was told by my college that this qualification would in fact be accepted, it would have been more beneficial to me and less stressful if I had really clarified this with the University as they are the ones who would be choosing whether or not to accept me onto the course. More than anything I felt annoyed, annoyed that I wasted so much time on a qualification that in the end, didn’t really count, this is something that you should all just be very, very aware of whilst studying because it can come around to bite you right on the ass! Moving swiftly on, I decided to move onto a Journalism course quick-time, so I called a few other Universities that I could easily commute to from home such as De Montfort aUniversity in Leicester and Derby University to see if I would be able to apply for a course there, I have to say I wasn’t too happy about this but I had to suck it in and deal with it! Which leads me to my next piece of advice, BEGGERS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS! I know it sucks, but if you can, really try your hardest to get onto whatever course, obviously within reason, that you can to get you into the higher educational system. As long as your on a course you have a whole set of brand new options to choose from rather than having to start from ‘scratch’ so to speak.
After all that luckily for me I was able to secure a place on a Print Journalism course at Nottingham Trent University which meant I didn’t have to commute anywhere, I would still be relatively ’close’ to my first choice, FCP, and would still be able transfer onto it in the event that anyone didn’t turn up or dropped out within the first few weeks. Failing that I was happy knowing I was still able to stay at home, studying a course still extremely relevant to my career prospects and that after a year if I found Print journalism wasn’t the right course for me I could simply transfer onto Fashion Communication and Promotion in my 2nd year. WIN, WIN. After giving the Art and Design Marketing Representative my name, UCAS number, Grades and contact details, (REMEMBER! all done face-to-face guys…) I was told I would still have to apply through Clearing but that the course itself wouldn’t be ‘publicised’ for anyone else to add it as a Clearing Choice and I would receive confirmation of my place by the end of the next day at the very latest.
*Pause for Sigh of Relief*
My penultimate piece of advice is to be patient and don’t panic. The people who work in the educational system are genuinely there to help and not harm us, as much as it may seem they aren’t being fast enough or helpful enough for what we need, it’s just because of the stress we’re under, they honestly are. Yes there are a few exceptions to the rule such as the utter fooligan who told me I had 40 UCAS points LESS than I actually had, the majority are really helpful! After I received that relieving piece of news I waited and waited for some kind of confirmation to suggest my place was sealed so I could frolic freely with my other friends who were already giddy at the prospect of Freshers fairs etc but at least 2 days after my conversation with the Marketing Rep at Trent I had received nothing. I began to panic, yet again. First thing Monday I made a much-needed call to the Uni and explained my situation as clearly and politely as possible, after a good 10 minutes of attempting to calm my rising tone to the man on the other end of the phone, he went to find the woman I spoke to and in the end properly confirmed my position on the course assuring me that my confirmation letter would be arriving in the post shortly. The happiness then slowly began to set in.
Okay girls and boys, my FINAL piece of advice, do not worry, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The amount of people I have spoken to who have felt alone and worried that they are the only ones in difficult situations regarding University choices, courses, grades or all of the above is incredible, and the craziest thing is that there are thousands of us, all going through the exact same thing. If your feeling low find someone, find anyone, even if you have never met them, go onto forums, find blogs, speak to graduates, do whatever you need to do to help YOU through anything you’re dealing with, you can connect with them over a mutual understanding of how difficult all of this is and trust me, it will help you more than a tub of Ben and Jerrys and a sad film…
Let me leave you with this, you, no, we are all more than just the grades we conceive, we are all incredible for even getting this far and should feel empowered by that concept alone! University is NOT the only option, there are countless other ways to make something of ourselves, there are apprenticeships, there are internships, there are jobs available to every one of us even in this economic climate, and there are courses galore all at our fingertips. The future is bright for all of us, University or not, and I can’t stress enough how much it is what we make it.
Every man is the architect of his own fortune
Good Luck guys! I will be sure to keep you posted as I start my journey at University and if you have any queries, questions or worries don’t hesitate to email me and I’ll talk you through it as much as I can!
If you are looking for some more help, motivation or support here are some of the websites I used to get me through, I hope they help.