Hi, my name is Sophie, and I’m a third year Law student in Goodricke college. Thinking back, it now seems like such a long time since I applied to university, especially since I applied twice! But we’ll get to that later. We’ll start at the beginning…
University was always on the cards for me. I have always had high expectations for myself and I knew I wanted big things in life, and for most of us, it was said that university helped you get there. However, I am from a small town in Nottinghamshire, commonly referred to as the gateway to the dukeries, a passing place for people who were on their way to other places. In my home town, we always thought that people from there could never amount to much, least of all university.
The first application
In my last year of sixth form, my school tried their best to provide us with as much information as possible about universities, however, the underlying lesson in all of it was that we shouldn’t “aim too high” otherwise we would be disappointed. We were taught that universities were sort of like a lottery draw, sometimes you would be lucky and most times not, this was based simply from where we came from and what our backgrounds were – but we were not taught about contextual offers.
It is shameful to say that I put little effort into choosing universities and writing my application. I went through the entire UCAS process un-enthused, fearing that I would be rejected due to the fact that I did not come from a traditional background. But underneath everything I was still the determined girl who wanted to study law, I’d just been beaten down.
When it came to results day, I surpassed my own and my teachers’ expectations, I actually did well! I went through Adjustment and received an offer to study French abroad – but it wasn’t Law – it wasn’t my dream.
The Middle – Otherwise Known as the Gap Year
I was all set to go to university, but two weeks prior I made the wise decision to take a gap year and reapply to university, this time doing the research for myself and putting all my best efforts in. Also, I decided that on top of working through my gap year, I would go back to school and do the Business Studies A-Level in my spare time. You can definitely say I was trying everything possible to make up for my mistakes.
During my research, I came across the term ‘contextual offer’. I had never heard this mentioned before, but I quickly came to realise that this meant a reduced offer. A contextual offer took into account many things: background, circumstances etc… It didn’t mean an easier route or cheating the system, to me it made applying to university a more even playing ground.
I chose York for many reasons…
It had always held a close place in my heart, and I had always heard such good things about the Law department, especially how they taught their students. When I went for my interview, I was informed that I was able to receive a contextual offer, since I had already sat my exams and my personal circumstances. The weight that was on my shoulders seemingly fell away. My dream of going to university was back on, as soon as that offer came through UCAS I accepted straight away.
I see my offer as an achievement, recognition of all the work I put in for three years. I do not see it as a cheat, I earned my place at York. York gave me the contextual offer because they saw potential in me to succeed. They recognised my aspiration for bigger and better things and knew they could get me there.
The End (or Now)
Finally, after 3 years of studying A-Levels, 2 UCAS applications, and 1 interview, I arrived at York to start my Law degree.
Honestly, a Hollywood writer could make up my story, and most of it sounds really cheesy when I look back. I definitely did not have the most conventional journey to York, but I wouldn’t change my story for anything. It’s made me who I am. I have taken everything I learnt about determination and perseverance and put it into my degree.
Now, I get to spend my days studying a subject that constantly shifts and changes, all the while I get to live in a city soaked in history and culture. I enjoy going to all the independent cafés on my list and tasting all the different coffees (I recommend Spring Espresso for an especially strong coffee). I love walking the city centre when it’s Christmas with all the stalls and beautiful lights. But my favourite thing to do is to walk through the campus before my classes. I see the lake, the wildlife and nature, it sets up my day perfectly.
Every day at university is a reminder of how hard I worked to get where I am. Whilst the contextual offer reduced my offer, it definitely did not deflect from my efforts and experiences. York chose me and I chose them.