*disclaimer* I am not influencing anybody in anyway!
I went to St Mary’s University, Twickenham where I studied Psychology because I thought this would be the best university to facilitate my learning, my needs and my future career goals. At the time I was researching universities and courses, I had such a passion for counselling and this was one of the few uni’s who offered a counselling module. I was so excited, I thought this would be the next stage to the rest of my life.
I’d studied Psychology at A-Level but unfortunately I didn’t get my expected grades. I was stressed and had no idea whether or not I had been accepted but my mum being my mum (God bless her soul) jumped on the phone as soon as I told her and called up the uni to see what she could sort out. Low and behold, she’d gotten me accepted for the Counselling Psychology course which however was a foundation degree. This was all in the space of about half hour. I didn’t even have time to think about exactly what I wanted to do, I don’t think I’d even taken in my A-Level results yet.
I didn’t want to do the foundation degree! Yes, it was exactly what I wanted to do but I would’t have been an accredited Psychologist as it wasn’t a full Psychology degree. But my mum was adamant I would go to university. A few days later, I found out that regardless of my grades, I had been accepted onto the full Psychology degree (woohoo!)
I ended up starting this new journey with two friends from sixth form who became my university sister’s and I can’t imagine my first year without them. Moving to twickenham was an eye opener and if anything, a culture shock. We stuck out like a sore thumb and at times felt so out of place. The music preferences were completely different to what we were used to so as much as we tried to participate in fresher’s week, we tried to make the best of it! Everything was so different to what we were used to and socially, I don’t think any of us truly enjoyed it.
Academically, first year was a hit and miss! The type of education and what was expected of me was very different, I felt more pressure to perform well and of course it was a brand new learning curve. However, the content was practically the same as what I had just learnt for the past two years at A-Level so it became very repetitive. I was so excited about this new learning experience and all the things I’d be picking up but instead it was everything I already knew.
Second year became a lot more intense, it felt like a bit of an extension from first year as there was defo a lot more to be learnt but I struggled because I just wasn’t interested in the likes of cognitive and biological psychology yet these were compulsory. I had NO choice in what I wanted to study and it got the better of me. I was simply attending because I had to, I was writing essays because I had to, not because of general interest or wanting to learn but because it was part of the process. At this point, I realised I was no longer in love with my degree. The social aspect of university didn’t interest me and academically, I wasn’t being stimulated but I stuck with it for a while. It took me a moment but I finally came to the realisation that university just was not for me, well, not at this moment anyway.
It’s fair to say that my university experience wasn’t great but honestly, it wasn’t all bad. I’m beyond glad I went, and I met a bunch of amazing people, made some great memories and I have some stories to tell my kids! But here’s my top tips for you:
- Thoroughly research your preferred course and the course content, make sure you’re truly interested because this will be your main focus for the next 2-4 years!
- Look at different courses! Some courses can seem kind of similar so make sure the one you choose caters to your expectations and encourages your career path.
- Look at a number of different universities! Factor in area; how close/far is it too and from home? Take a look at the surrounding area e.g shops, how accessible everything is. Do you actually like the area as this will potentially be your new home for the next few years! Take a look at the facilities too.
- If there’s anybody you know who went to your chosen uni or is/was on your chosen course then ask them about their experience but remember their opinion is subjective.
- Once you’re in, get involved! Make friends, talk to people you maybe wouldn’t usually speak to, sign up for activities you haven’t tried before.
- It’s hard, as most things are controlled and we don’t really have much choice but try not to settle for anything! Don’t choose a uni based on where your friends are going, don’t choose a course just because it seems easier than what you really want to do, don’t decide to live in an area/home just because it’s cheaper or closer or all your other friends are staying there. If you’re not at least 90% happy with it (I say this because nothing is ever perfect) then don’t do it!
They say your college/university years are some of the best years of your life. Make memories and experience new things! I wish you all the best.
Hope this helps lovelies.