Hi there, my name is Ellen and I am a second year English Language and Linguistics student here at the University of York. I got my contextual offer in 2020 whilst I was in sixth form!
First of all, I would just like to say a huge congratulations to you if you’ve received an offer to study here. I know you have worked incredibly hard to get it and even more so in the current circumstances.
Receiving my offer
When I first received my offer, I felt incredibly grateful and relieved. The University that I had always wanted to go to actually wanted me to go there too! The area that I come from has a very low percentage of people that progress onto higher education. So it definitely wasn’t lost on me how big of an opportunity this was. I have always wanted to move to a new place to study a subject that I love and meet lots of new and like-minded people, and this contextual offer was my opportunity to do so.
However, I was scared that I would be the ‘odd one out’ or different to everyone else because I received a slightly different offer. But thankfully, that really wasn’t the case. Now I’m here, I haven’t had a conversation with anyone about what my UCAS offer was or if my offer was different to theirs. The thing to remember is that we are all here because we deserve to be here. To live, study and to enjoy ourselves.
Finding my place at York
The University of York has a college system. Each student is given a college and they usually live in their college for their first year. I found that having a college system was a really great way to quickly find my place at York. Plus, help me to settle in whilst finding and living with people who I am sure are now some of my friends for life.
Now I’m at York, I cannot imagine myself studying and living anywhere else! Once I got here, there were plenty of opportunities to connect with other students who also came here through contextual offers. Due to COVID, we couldn’t meet up and so we set up group chats and communication networks. Then we eventually met up once we were out of lockdown. I found this really helpful as I realised that I was not the only one who got here in this way. And that we all had had the same anxieties before coming here.
Discovering university life
Something else that I realised when I got here was that university life is so much more than what I was expecting. It’s not just waking up, going to a lecture, going to the library, going to a seminar and then going home. Instead, it’s waking up, going to a lecture, going to a café on campus to meet with a friend, going to a seminar, going to a society meeting, going to a committee meeting, going home and getting changed and then meeting friends for a society’s social or for a sports match.
University life is so much more than I expected but it is also exactly what you make of it. Some days I have a quieter schedule to get ahead on uni work and assignments. Other days I decide to stay busy all day. I love that there are so many opportunities and that I am the one in charge of what I’m doing and where I am going to be.
Lastly, I would just like to congratulate you all once again. And wish you the best of luck for your exams and hopefully, I’ll meet some of you next year!