I’m back to post what I think would be quite useful to those of you who are currently applying to uni and likely to have put Essex on your UCAS applications.
So it’s been a while since I did my UCAS form myself, just over a couple years now, but I can still remember how daunting and nerve-wracking that experience was alone. The pressure is on for many of you; you thought it was scary having to decide between college & sixth form and what to do with all the new freedom of deciding on what to study & now this? Yeah, I get it, it’s all choices, choices, choices when the hardest decision in secondary school was wondering how short you could wear your tie without getting yourself into detention. However, rest assured, it’s not as bad as you think. Hopefully, you have an advisor to guide you along with the process and if not, BINGO that’s where I come in. Now I can’t say that I can help you a lot in terms of academic choices (unless you’re thinking of coming to Essex on an ISC course, which….in actual fact, would explain how you found yourself here.. anyway) but I thought I could provide three pointers on how to make the process easier for your peace of mind, here goes:
So you’ve got a couple prospective uni’s in mind, but you need to whittle them down to your final choices. I’d really recommend visit days, a university might look fantastic on paper but I’m a big believer in trusting my gut feeling when it comes to making a big decision. Believe it or not, when I was applying to university I had my heart set on somewhere other than Essex (yep, Essex was not my first choice, to begin with) but when I finally went down to the campus in question (I won’t mention the name) I just didn’t feel great there; something in my gut didn’t sit right with, what I thought was, my first and only choice. The campus was not as picturesque as the prospectus made it out to be, the food was awful and can we say PRICEY?? and the night life looked like it sucked to be frank.
I just had to accept that although the rankings were great in my eyes, nothing else about the Uni clicked with me and let me tell you that the social aspect isn’t most important but should definitely be considered. In the end, I chose Essex – which ironically, I never ended up going to visit, which kind of defeats the point of this..point, BUT I told you I like to trust my gut and I trusted it so much so, that I went out on a whim & threw all logic out of the window. Yep, Essex may not have been my first choice but it was my best choice, I found it had a good balance of great academia and social life & I’ve never looked back. In short, I would say get a feel for the Uni that you can see yourself in & if in doubt, trust your gut – both will help your anxiety subside when it comes to picking the perfect place for you, I mean, you’re going to spend the next 3 years there (no pressure!).
Okay, I know I said that I couldn’t really give you any advice on your academic choices and no, I’m not going to sit here and tell you what I think you should study but I do think this piece of advice is important.
When it comes to choosing your degree, TRY and be sure of your subject as much as possible. I say try because it’s going to be hard to be 100% sure without actually trying it out, however lets go with 90% as the threshold; if there’s any umm-ing or ahh-ing i.e you’re only 60% sure, then you should probably double check that you’re making the best possible choice for you. I can say this with confidence because it happened to me. In college, I really really REAALLLY loved psychology, but I always hated the research methods part of it, luckily I got by and came out with a pretty good A – Level in it. Eventually, my degree choices always teetered between American studies & Psychology and I chose Psychology; however, I always chose to ignore the fact that research methods and statistics were now going to be a part of my degree. Not only a fraction, as it was in college, but I’m talking whole modules on these subjects that I was not even close to being comfortable with & I knew, deep down in my heart, that I was going to struggle big time. Now, I must say that in the Psychology department’s defence, I may not have taken the issue of statistics in the module outline as seriously as I should of and I thought I could ‘get by’ as I did in college, as long as I did well in terms of case studies and theories. No. Nope. Nah. Nein. Hell to the NO.
Here is the issue, the issue is not that I knew I struggled with statistics and that I didn’t think that it was going to be a challenge (Uni will throw challenges at you, honestly that’s the beauty of it..in a way), the issue was that I had worried about the modules from DAY. ONE. (Remember what I said about that gut feeling thing?) I knew that I was going to suck at stats and research methods in general andddddd probably self-implode but as usual, I winged it (this time ignoring my gut). A year later I had failed my first year on the basis of messing up my stats and research module (and my gut was shaking its hypothetical head at me). I don’t tell you these things to scare you, actually the complete opposite and why? Here I am, in my second year of studying American studies, the course that my gut knew I would have been more comfortable choosing but I let external influences like family and friends influence my decision along with being naive enough to believe that Psychology, at degree level, was going to be as easy to wing as A-Levels. Everyone has their different stories and ways of choosing what’s best for them but my advice to you is, be sure when you chose your degree. Make sure the choice is for your and only you and not mum & dad and that you’re comfortable with every aspect that the course may throw at you.
If you have those two checked, you’ll be fine.
This is probably the best piece of advice I can give to you.
DO. NOT. OVERTHINK.
I know it seems like it now, but finding a Uni and simply getting a degree with a 2:1 or higher is not the be all and end all. Use this time to find yourself, HECK some people even start uni and figure out that it’s not the path for them and move on to other endeavours. Again, I’m not saying this to scare you or even increase your anxiety, I’m saying, just chill out & it’ll work out. Starting uni is more than just going to lectures, handing in assignments you’ve stayed up for the last 26 hours completing & at the end of 3 or 4 years, popping on a cap and gown and graduating. Those things are all part of the great experiences of uni, but most of you will also move out for the first time, meet strangers that will become life long friends, find your hobbies and inevitably find yourself; what you like, what you don’t like and what you strive to be. University will steer you to find the better version of yourself no matter whether you get your first, third or fifth choice – trust me it’s going to be great. Everyone has their own time zone, focus on yourself and where this journey will take you and not on whether everyone has got the choices they wanted. Believe me on this one if anything, I’m the girl who went to uni one year later than all of her friends, then failed psychology and finally found the degree she felt happiest in. Although all of my friends have graduated this year and I’ll graduate two years after them, I understand I’m on my own journey & all great things take time.
Breathe, step back and let everything fall into place.
P.S. Most importantly, use this time to enjoy mum’s home cooking instead of worrying! Rest assured, the super noodles for breakfast, lunch & dinner await you – now THAT is worth worrying about!