What is a contextual offer?
By definition, a contextual offer is ‘a reduced offer for UK undergraduates that is typically one or two grades below the standard entry requirements’.
They are given to students like you and I, who may have experienced socioeconomic disadvantages in their schooling, as a way to reduce pressure. The joy of a contextual offer is that they help to promote fairness in higher education. They do this by allowing talented students to show their potential to succeed, without having their barriers hold them back. Now, all this seems very wordy and formal. It can be hard to dissect what this will mean for you coming up to university. So, in this short blog, I am going to delve into this definition to show you what having a contextual offer meant to me moving up to university.
What did my offer mean to me?
Before applying to university, I had a rough idea of what a contextual offer was. But I didn’t really know how it could impact me on my journey to becoming an undergraduate. I was aware of the criteria that comes with eligibility for a contextual offer, but I found it really hard to work out how much of it fitted to me and my circumstances. All I knew was that I was going to be the first in my family to progress to university, and that I lived somewhere where school was more of a chore than something people wanted to do. I always viewed my circumstances as a challenge, more than a barrier. To show people that if you put your mind to something you really want, nothing can hold you back. So, because of this, I never really saw myself eligible for a contextual offer.
I studied every minute of every day in order to achieve the best grades that I could. But I always felt that it wasn’t enough. I never really had much time for extracurricular activities or work experience. I found myself having to work every weekend in order to support myself through college. So, when I found out that other students may have this a lot easier than me, to say I was worried would be a bit of an understatement. It was always my dream to attend a prestigious university, but as time progressed, I felt like that dream was slowly slipping away from me.
The moment I received my offer from York, I finally felt as if I could breathe again. That all the stress, hard work and sacrifice that I had made up until that point was worth it. Having that offer sat there in front of me validated everything that I had done beforehand. Getting the best grades I could, attending everything I needed to give me an edge, honing my skills. It made me feel that, despite the barriers that my background placed in front of me, I belonged. It validated the ethos I’d had from the very beginning: never let where you come from hold you back in achieving your dreams.
I felt a lot more relaxed and confident when waiting for my exam results after receiving my contextual offer – especially after choosing York as my firm choice. However, there was still a part in the back of my brain thinking that I didn’t deserve it. That I would come to university and not fit in because I wasn’t as “smart” as everyone else. I am pleased to now report that this wasn’t the case at all. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, despite your background.
I live right on the south coast, so choosing York was a big decision for me, as I’d be moving so far. I’d always heard people talk about how beautiful the City of York was and what an amazing university York was. And when I got here, wow, they weren’t lying! York is a Russell Group university, and they are always trying to pioneer new initiatives to make the world a better place. They even incorporate some of their new initiatives into your degree! The campuses are gorgeous and full of wildlife, and the city is equally as amazing, filled with so much heritage. The University of York is a people-friendly, supportive university who really just want the best for you!
My overall experience as a York contextual offer holder
My overall experience as a contextual offer holder is that contextual offers are wonderful things! It has helped me so much in becoming one step closer to achieving all of my dreams. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
So, if you have received a contextual offer from the University of York – congratulations! You are all amazing human beings, defying the barriers placed in front of you to be the very best version of yourselves. Enjoy your journey into academia because you more than deserve it!
Read more stories from students who received contextual offers