I love IT. I am currently studying IT and when I’m done, I want to become a programmer. So, the next logical step in my IT journey is to go university.
There are so many universities in the UK and yet I could only apply to five, which then they had to whittled down to just two choices - a firm and an insurance choice. That’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put on someone to chose where they want to spend the next 3 (or more) years of their life.
In the UK, potential university applicants have to go through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service - known as UCAS. The process usually begins towards the first year of Sixth form (I was about 17). About that time, you are encouraged to start thinking about what you want to study at uni and where.
Once you have an idea of at least where you want to go - you need to book open days with the universities. These days are often held in the summer holidays and generally include a tour of the campus, accommodation and the course related facilities. When I was in the first year of Sixth form, I only looked at one university - the relativity local University of East Anglia.
I went to the UEA open day as Norwich is only about 2 hours away, so it wouldn’t be too long to drive home when I needed to and by this time I had decided to pursue a carer in IT, rather than Forensic Science. UEA also have fairly reasonable entry requirements for their Computer Science course - ABB, as well as a foundation course.
This foundation course had much lower entry requirements, allowing students who didn’t do great at A-levels an extra year before the degree started for them to be brought up to speed on all things Comp Sci.
But things didn’t go to plan. After sitting the exams for both Biology and Chemistry, I was quietly confident and thought I had passed - even going as far to hope for a B. But I shouldn’t have been. Results day was awful. Really horrible. From previous posts, you know that in the end I found my way onto a BTEC IT course at the local college.
Before starting the BTEC Level 3 IT course, I made it clear to the tutors that I wanted a course which would challenge me while still being interesting, and for the most part the first year was. We did Event Driven Programming (VB.NET), spreadsheets (this time VBA), web (way more boring than I thought) and other less exciting units. In the second year we lost two tutors and the remaining two had their hours cut.
The second year was meant to be tougher and more technical than the first, but it wasn’t. We had lost the only tutor with basic programming knowledge - so interesting units like ASP were dropped. They were replaced with mediocre units which I had no intrest in - like another, simpler web development unit, animation and multimedia.
I was bored. And couldn’t wait to move on (I still can’t). My UCAS application process began in early October. Many forms needed to be filled covering personal details, previous qualifications, a personal statement and most importantly which universities you had chosen. I have always struggled with writing and spelling my whole life, so the prospect of writing a 46 line, personal statement to sell yourself to your desired university was horrible.
My Mum has always helped me with my English homework - spellings when I was in Junior’s School and in Secondary School it was essays, book reviews and the like. Her help ranged from simply proof reading my work to getting involved with sentence structure and even typing for me. There is simply no way I would have passed my English GCSE without her help and guidance. And there would be no way I would able to write this blog to this standard.
So when I was presented with the challenge, she was the first person I turned to. We discussed topics which needed to be covered such as my interests, why I wanted to do Computer Science and my hopes for the future. She and I drafted a statement which we then bulked out, I then added technical details and statements tailored to what they wanted to read. By the time we had finished, we had quite a Personal Statement - so much so my tutor said it was the best one he had ever seen in his 10 years of teaching!
After that it was the simple matter (hahaha) of choosing which university. Certain universities didn’t rate a BTEC diploma as highly, while others wanted A-level maths on top of the BTEC diploma - which my college didn’t offer. I originally wanted to go where my friends were going, but as it got closer to the deadline they were still undecided and I just wanted to get my application sent off.
I choose all K’s and L’s - King’s College London, Kent, Liverpool, Lancaster and Leicester. These all wanted roughly the same grades and King’s and Leicester aren’t too far away so I could come home in about an hour. King’s then changed their entry requirements and now needed and increased their entry requirements from a C at maths GCSE to a B. I booked visit days with all of the universities but King’s was where I wanted to go. So I enrolled on to a GCSE maths course and had to choose a uni for my insurance choice.
The first visit day I went on was to the University of Kent in Canterbury. I went primarily to see what it was like with the view of it being my insurance choice. As well as showing off the uni, they also wanted to interview me. I was completely blown away by the uni - the staff, the facilities, the year in industry and the high praise from current and ex students. By the end of the day I knew this is where I wanted to spend the next few years of my life!
Once I was home, I selected them as my firm choice and sent the application then and there. I was over the moon when they said they would love to offer me a place, grade dependant of course, and I can’t wait to start there in September!