What even is a contextual offer? It’s a term that got thrown around a lot when I was applying for university. But, even after I clicked that final button on my UCAS application, I still wasn’t sure what it would mean for me.
In this blog, I will share my experience getting a contextual offer from the University of York, from the moment that UCAS email came into my inbox, to becoming a student here.
My Contextual Offer:
To me, and I’m sure many others, the term “contextual offer” was a bit vague. It’s often defined as a means of ensuring that everyone has a “fair chance” at university, no matter their background. However, from an individual perspective, it can be hard to recognise your disadvantage. If the disadvantage is all you have known, how are you to know that others experience life and opportunities differently? This was certainly the position from which I submitted my UCAS application.
My contextual offer was awarded to me because I lived and went to school in an area where very few people progressed to university. Half of my offers ended up being contextual, but the University of York was the first offer I ever received. I can clearly remember my emotions upon opening UCAS track – I can also remember my family all jumping with excitement when I told them the good news! For me, the offer was like a confirmation that I was good enough to go to university. It made the possibility seem real for the first time, instead of a pipe dream.
My contextual offer did more for me than simply lowering the grades I needed to achieve to secure my place. Through regular emails, I was made aware of, and applied for, the university’s Step Ahead programme, which I completed in the September before my first term. From sessions on budgeting, to craft meet-ups where I could make friends with others on the course, Step Ahead wasn’t only great fun – it also calmed my nerves. The prospect of university can be overwhelming at the best of times. So, the support that was on offer made the transition smoother, and more exciting than nerve-wracking!
Finally At University!
In some ways, it’s hard to believe that I’m nearly halfway through my first year already! From concert band to choir, as well as my position as a course representative, I have truly appreciated the chance to make my hobbies part of my university experience, especially since these were opportunities I never had access to before. In taking part in societies and extra-curricular activities, I had the chance to broaden my horizons and make some amazing new friends – a win-win!
One of the reasons I picked York as my first choice was the beautiful city, and it’s safe to say that I haven’t been disappointed. I already have a favourite spot (the Dean’s park, with amazing views of York Minster), and as a History student, to be able to walk down the streets of York city centre is like stepping back into the past that I study. Even on campus, it feels like living within nature. Imagine my excitement when I woke up to a dusting of snow outside my window (in November!), and I don’t think you can call yourself a University of York student if you haven’t seen Longboi the duck!
Your Contextual Offer:
The feeling that your potential has been recognised in spite of the obstacles which you may have faced is invaluable. For me, it was incredibly powerful. So this is my advice to you: if you are reading this because you have received a contextual offer, or anything similar, congratulations! Savour the moment, and make the most of it. This opportunity has the potential to open so many doors you never thought possible, so feel proud that you’ve earned it.