Beginning my application to UCAS for undergraduate study in 2014 was something else! I had been to all of the open days I wanted and thought about all of them, weighing up what I’d seen and heard about all the courses and Universities. Signing up to the UCAS website meant my application had my general information, I had to enter my previous education, my chosen undergraduate courses, Universities, course codes, and qualifications and write a personal statement. Entering my previous education wasn’t too much of an effort as I already had those qualifications at hand, however, what I didn’t have was the official grade for my BTEC, which was not given to me until results day, same again for my GCSE in my English language exam. (I missed the benchmark for it in high school so I had to retake it.)
My personal statement was quite a task to write. I began writing it in a formal sense, stating my qualifications and the work I did at school and college, what I thought the courses would want to see and therefore accept me on those merits. Then my instincts were to tailor the statement to the Universities I was applying to, but then I spoke to some that had been to University and read some advice online. They said that I should write the statement more generally, expressing myself personally and my capabilities in writing or working in the media. This approach made my personal statement easier to write, I was able to write freely within my personal statement and in the end, I was pleased. Now having my application ready, I submitted it and anxiously waited for the University to reply with their offers.
Deciding on the Top Five
I had to narrow my choice of Universities down to five, based on the open days and the reality of studying. Thinking realistically, I eliminated BA (Hons) in Journalism at Southampton Solent University for their lack of understanding and ignorance and all reluctance to accommodate myself and my disability, their pitch and overall attitude which had disappointed me. Then regretfully I had to eliminate BA (Hons) in Event Management & Journalism at the University of Chester due to their unsuitability and distance between the city and campus. After thinking everything through and referring to some notes I made, I decided to apply to the following courses:
- BA (Hons) in Media Culture and Production at Southampton Solent University
- Joint Honors – BA (Hons) Event Management & Journalism at the University of Northampton
- BA (Hons) Media Production at Birmingham City University
- BA (Hons) Journalism at Staffordshire University
- BA (Hons) Radio Production at Staffordshire University
After I submitted my application to the Universities, I couldn’t help but check my emails on a regular basis to see if any University on my application had responded, although I knew that the UCAS website would notify me automatically. I had to force myself to stay away from the computer for hours to keep myself from checking. Then I received an email from UCAS stating that something on my application had changed (one of the Universities had made a decision about a place or I was being invited to attend an interview at a University. I was eager and anxious to find out what the result was. There were times when just checking the UCAS website it decided to crash and I couldn’t gain access. AHH! I wanted to know, whatever it was.
University Requests/Interviews/Applicant Days
I didn’t get offers straight away, the Universities (course dependent) either requested for me to submit a piece of writing or attend an interview. The University of Northampton responded to my application and asked me to complete a task. I was requested to write a 1,500 newspaper article about a famous person of my choice. I could write it from any angle to appeal to the set audience of the newspaper. I decided to write an article about childhood stars and how this affected them in later life, specifically focusing on one of my favourite childhood stars, Lindsey Lohan. Once I had finished it, I submitted it via UCAS and kept my fingers crossed.
My application was sturdy but I was glad they asked for more or to see me in person. I was nervous that my application would be declined afterwards, especially on the courses I really wanted to get into but I had to try my best to shut that part off.
I got invited to attend an applicant day at Southampton Solent University and Birmingham City University (BCU) which allowed me to meet you today and have tools of the facilities and campuses on a more one-to-one basis around an interview. I was upbeat about this as it would allow me to see everything as a real potential student and I had to see it was a general chat between myself and the tutor and show my personality, touching on knowledge about the course itself and the surrounding topics.
I wanted to build a portfolio to showcase what I could do. I was lucky to have a published article or two as part of my volunteering at Birmingham PHAB Camps and added to this to my portfolio with creative samples from my writing. I was also able to include some media content from my time studying for my level three diploma at Bournville College. I ensured my portfolio had both experience and personality, in the most up-to-date material including my website or any social media presence
without making it too obvious and showing off. I also tried to customise my portfolio according to the course and University to which I was applying. I tried to get myself organised, thinking about my skills, and how I’ve used them in the past, I showed them a radio show that I had produced as part of of my level 3 diploma and then a showreel that I also created as part of it, showing them how I would use these skills throughout the course and in the future. I think it was a nice touch to bring along the radio show and a showreel as I wanted them to showcase myself, personally, as well as academically. I wanted them to see the person behind the application, to make a positive impression on the University and stand out amongst other candidates wanting to get onto the same degree.
I applied to two courses at Staffordshire University, BA (Hons) Journalism and BA (Hons) Radio Production. The staff on the journalism course invited me in for an applicant day and I really could see myself as a student there. We got a chance to participate in an actual real-life scenario as part of the day. Our group of interviewees had to pose as a newspaper team and were given a list of stories which we had to structure into a suitable newspaper, similar to what we would have to do if we were studying the courses which was fantastic and on leaving the applicant days, I was eager and nervous to find out whether I would be accepted. Shortly after this application day, I was asked to attend another while I was considered for the Radio Production course at Staffordshire University. Prior to the Radio Production interview, it was requested that I listen to two radio shows, which have the same target audience on two different stations and analyse the shows for the presenter’s style, the subject(s) of the show and how they contrasted with each other. As potential applicants, we had to make notes on these and take them forth to the interviews and applicant day to discuss and brainstorm before the interview itself.
I really enjoyed attending these applicant days and now I had to wait for the individual Universities to deliberate and review my application.
Making My Choice
After waiting a few weeks I started getting emails sent from my UCAS account stating that ‘something had changed on my application’. I was eager and nervous to check and steel myself. I reopened my application. I knew that my offers would be depending on the results of my BTEC and my English language GCSE which I wouldn’t get until the summer, but at least I could see which universities I would get into based on my application interview results. Then I could choose one University as my first choice and another as my insurance choice which would then be confirmed when I received my results for my BTEC and English Language retake.
Unfortunately, I was denied my place on my chosen course at the University of Northampton, instead, I was offered an alternative place on another course. BA (Hons) Media Production. However, upon looking at the course outline I saw it was too much like the BTEC that I studied at Bournville College and I wanted to do something a bit different. It was also not the course that I applied to at this University so I decided not to pursue it.
I was over the moon to have received conditional offers for the other four Universities that I had applied to. I considered again every course and every University with every campus, picking the details that may have looked too small at the time but may contribute to my overall choice. I tried to order them according to which ones I liked a particular aspect and then make the decision from there. BA (Hons) in Media Culture and Production at Southampton Solent University and BA (Hons) Media Production at Birmingham City University were very similar courses with only a few differences so I decided to put that choice aside for now and continued to look at my other choices.
Although I loved the Radio Production course at university I think I allowed people to get into my head and made me doubt whether this course would be useful to me in the future and would have a strong career in the end. Now however do I wish I had considered it further. I did however consider studying BA (Hons) journalism at Staffordshire University. Having seen the accommodation on the open day I felt it was very suitable and the adaptations were already put in place for potential disabled students. I very much enjoyed the experience I had on the applicant day and could see myself studying the course at that University.
One thing that did flag up was the lack of adapted accommodation available at Birmingham City University and the destination of my course compared to where the available accommodation was. This was something that I felt very nervous about; I had to think of the practicalities and thought it would affect my studies. The more I thought about it I decided that I preferred the course at Southampton Solent University in comparison to the one at BCU. But it did hurt to rule this course out.
After thinking about it for a long time and weighing up the pros and cons, I gauged everything that I had seen and wanted from a University. I decided to put the Journalism degree at Staffordshire University as my insurance choice and Media Culture & Production at Southampton Solent University as my first choice.
Read my advice on how to manage your UCAS application as well as all the information you would need to know about any interviews or applicant days…
Undergraduate Application Advice
In September 2014, I started studying Media, Culture and Production at Southampton Solent University and it was a year of testing and trying experiences that I will not forget.
Read more in the following posts:
Preparing to Journey South For University [2014-2015]
My Ask Jules Experience Part 1
Leaving Home For The Campus [2014-2015]
Struggles with Studying a BA at Solent University [2014-2015]
Failed Resolutions of Halls of Residence [2014-2015]
The Choice to Withdraw From Southampton Solent University