My Academic Plans for 2019!

Monday 11 February 2019, First year

by Chloe Brewster

My Academic Plans for 2019!

Chloe Brewster

As we ease into the first few weeks of 2019, we are typically bombarded with questions regarding what our new year’s resolutions are. From adopting a healthier diet (unfortunately, dark chocolate will never count as one of our 5 a day!) to picking up a new hobby, there is an expectation to find a resolution and appear to stick with it for a while. Instead of reiterating what you have probably heard before (and can no longer tolerate the ‘new year, new you!’ messages), I want to steer the focus of this post towards what I aspire to do and hopefully achieve in my academic life following the Christmas break.

In fact, one of my ‘resolutions’ is quite a life-changing one regarding my studies because I have already had to sort it out prior to finishing the first semester at my current university but, as time has gone on, I have become more convinced that I am making the right decision for myself. And, if 2019 should symbolise anything, it is that personal happiness is absolutely pivotal - it might seem difficult to feel happy when you are seemingly drowning in revision notes and essays (as I’m currently in the midst of completing!), but you need the assurance that your effort and diligence will reward you with the contentment that you deserve.

Therefore, I have applied to transfer to a different university (yes, hopefully third time lucky!) to study English and French. Although this might seem somewhat ‘wacky’ given that I was only telling you that I had transferred from one university to another at the beginning of the first semester, a major reason why I am putting myself through another upheaval is that I truly miss studying French. It is a language which I love because I taught it to myself when I was twelve and, like my fondness for literature and, um, nail polish (so unacademic!), it has grown with me. Therefore, only studying English at university has left me feeling a bit empty and unfulfilled in my academic life, which would only deepen my sense of regret if I didn’t follow my heart and combine my two passions – English and French – in the future.

An obvious solution might be that I change courses in the next academic year at my current institution, but English and French is not taught there. Although I will be taking on some additional French classes at my university this semester, I have to ‘pay’ for the privilege of doing so which, given that all students like myself must pay over £9000 in tuition fees each year, is quite a rip-off. However, my classes have been paid for by the university due to some administrative errors that they made, which are among the numerous factors why I wish to transfer at the end of my first year…

Out of respect for my fellow students at the university, I have no intention of descending into a rant regarding my dislikes because I know that, like clothes, all universities fit students differently. And, like purchasing a pair of shoes which are slightly too big, you have to decide whether or not you will keep them or exchange them for a pair which are better-fitting; I have chosen the latter which, to say the least, is a huge relief for me. If leaving sixth form or college teaches you anything, it is that listening to your instincts and acting upon them is so gratifying – and that is one of the many parts of being a student!

Although I could have dropped out because this current academic year technically doesn’t count if I’ve applied to another university, nonetheless I decided against this idea for several reasons. Firstly, there are no guarantees that I would be able to find a job straightaway, which I know from personal experience; notably, it took me nearly three months until I was hired for a Saturday job, which I juggle alongside my studies. Moreover, Student Finance stipulate that, by registering at my first university in September, I have already used one year of finance or, given that I will now be changing courses, my ‘gift year’. In this regard, I might as well make the most of this ‘gift year’ by gaining as much academic experience and knowledge as possible, even though I am obviously liable to pay for this year’s tuition fees and maintenance loans. As most, if not all, students believe, the tuition fees are so ridiculously high that it seems unlikely that they will ever be fully paid back, so I don’t really consider it as a ‘debt’. And, less importantly, I’ve developed a habit of borrowing poetry anthologies (which can cost so much to buy) from the library for free, which I don’t want to give up quite yet!

These academic plans may not seem to be the most ‘conventional’ ones because we typically assume that, once you apply to your chosen universities on UCAS, you firm and insure two offers before hopefully heading to your preferred institution on Result’s Day. At times, I do wish that the ‘after’ process following Results’ Day could be highlighted in more detail because I have felt somewhat embarrassed by not encountering the university experience which I know is right for myself, despite getting good grades (not that I’m bragging!). However, re-applying via UCAS was straightforward and similar to my previous application, except that I needed to find a referee at my university, but I sent off my application at the beginning of December with plenty of time before the mid-January deadline. A few weeks ago, I received an unconditional offer from the university that I applied to, a moment which filled me with so much joy because it means that I am now a few steps closer to following my dream of studying English and French.

If I have any advice to offer you, it is that, no matter what barriers you may face, try your hardest to follow your dreams because it is your life that you are living!