by Jade Archer, Make Happen collaborative outreach officer
I originally applied to start university in 2015.
I was still in sixth form and I thought that I was ready to move hundreds of miles away from everyone and everything. I received offers from all three of my choices, and made the final decision to attend my first choice, the University of Essex. It took me a month or so over summer to realise that I wasn’t quite ready to move my entire life to a different county, and that it was okay to feel that way. I spoke to several members of my family which then led me to speak to the university and explain my situation. The university advised me to defer my place for a year and start in 2016 – I didn’t even know that was a possibility and I was ecstatic that I could spend a year relaxing before going back into education. The admissions team were so reassuring and made me feel at complete ease, which was when I knew that I had found my new home.
The year that I spent out of education was definitely one of the best years of my life so far.
I worked full time, attended eight festivals, discovered new parts of the world and attempted to save up some money for university. It gave me more time to spend with my family, making memories that I’ll never forget, while my full-time job prepared me for the ‘real world’. It wasn’t the best decision I ever made, because that decision was attending university.
So, here’s why I loved university…
When you’re a student, no two days are ever the same; there are endless opportunities at your fingertips. University is said to be some of the best years of your life and in my opinion, they were. Going to university was beneficial in so many ways; it built on my independence and gave me the possibility to explore topics in the subject that I enjoy. Whilst there are some downsides to university, like late nights reading through thousands of words on a computer screen, there are far more positives that outweigh these.
At university you’re able to connect with people from all walks of life in such a diverse environment.
During the three years that I studied at university, I met people from such a cosmic range of backgrounds. I was introduced to new cultures, religious beliefs, and political views, people who had different passions, skills and interests. So not only did I create such a variety of friendships, but I learnt an incredible amount from these friendships, especially living in such close quarters with them.
In my first year I stayed on campus, in Bertrand Russel Tower.
For anyone who hasn’t visited the University of Essex, the towers are 16 floors high and have a variety of living arrangements – double rooms, single rooms, etc. I shared my flat with 15 very different people, who all soon either became my friends or acquaintances. It’s more than okay to not be best friends with everyone that you live with initially – university is about being yourself and paving the way for your future. I’d like to point out that shared accommodation isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re sharing two showers between sixteen of you, but that’s down to your individual preferences. I loved my shared accommodation because it’s where I made the friends that I lived with for the duration of my studies, who I still speak to on a weekly basis now. Yes it’s true, living in close proximity with so many people can mean that you start to fight over who gets the oven or the shower first, but once you get over all of the initial bickering, you build friendships that last a lifetime.
My advice to any student who’s progressing on to university is to leave your comfort zone.
I completely understand that it’s not an easy thing to do, but trying little things like saying hello to someone that you wouldn’t usually approach, or trying something fresh like rugby or meditation, will develop you as a person in more ways that you can imagine. Also if you can find a society that interests you, then join! The unknown will stay that way until you take the opportunity to explore it.