To my fellow prospective University students,
I hope that everyone is safe and well in the current climate. That’s how most correspondence begins now, is it not? ‘I hope to find you safe and well’. Plentiful aspects of life as we know it has changed or disappeared, either temporarily or permanently, yet we aren’t sure about the answers to this.
For us, we have an added element of clueless pondering to throw into the works. Up until recently, our UCAS had been completed, we were confirming our choices, we had a goal to achieve; we were to meet entry requirements and prepare ourselves for a new start in September. Starting Higher Education.
Normally this process would mean passing A-Level exams, or achieving the correct credits from a diploma, but as part of this process, a physical presence in our academic establishment was assuredly going to be the case. Did we see this coming? Like absolutely everybody else, no, we didn’t.
I can’t speak for all of us as everyone is in different circumstances. It seems to be as though our work isn’t graded anymore. I’m from the Access to HE side of things, so have achieved certain credits already. I still must continue to hand the work in, but it’s all slightly strange, isn’t it? Not seeing our classmates and reading instructions from an email. Confidence has dropped in ourselves to complete tasks, although I won’t take away from the encouragement that has been offered, but motivation and routine has certain parts to play too.
What about those of us who have been told their mock exams are what will be used? The practice exams that were meant to be an education tool to help us improve has now become the foundation of our future. This was not the original intent; many students are now being denied the chance to prove what they can really do and being judged by performance they perhaps wish wasn’t to their standard. That’s more than fair. It wasn’t the deal. I am not doing A-Levels however I remember distinctly the difference between my mock GCSEs and my actual results.
The assurances that our places will still be considered and fair is one thing, but what happens next? There are many worries on our minds. Once we’re confirmed places to begin in September, what will happen then? Will lectures carry on as normal? Will they be decreased to allow for social-distancing? Will home learning and virtual lectures be what becomes the new standard? Certainly… well, not what we signed up for.
And as for freshers week… we know that it’s not going to happen the way we planned, and it’s infamous for its introduction to university life in the UK… the dreaded ‘freshers flu’ will not be on our minds, when there’s a deadly virus marking its presence on every part of our experience. Many of us will be moving to a new town or city, but how will social distancing impact this bold new step?
I for one am in a slightly different position as a uni-offer holder, I suppose. I’m classed as ‘mature’ because I’ll be twenty-three, and I’m staying in my home city, so I will have less of a big transition when September approaches. I’ve certainly reached my own peak – peak of ‘night out’ stamina, I don’t think I could quite keep up like I used to. This may have saved me an embarrassing attempt to become a teenager again. And my actual teenager days were embarrassing enough.
We have a lot of uncertainties and worries about the future, and this open letter doesn’t contain the answers, because I know as much as the rest of you. We will be the First Years starting during a global crisis. So here is to achieving the grades that we deserve to achieve. Here is to a fair start of the rest of our lives. Here is to hope that we will be able to attend as normal as we can.
We will be a part of a larger community of students with just as many fears as we have right now.
Our degrees will be completed in three years time, just with a different beginning.