Results day - 18th August, 2016 : The day I thought my life was over.
I could not sleep the night before. How could I sleep knowing that tomorrow I would finally get my results? I was so scared that I laid awake thinking of ways to open my results without anyone noticing.
Here was the plan: go into college, collect my envelope and leave straight away. Instead, I snatched the envelope from a teacher and immediately tore it open in the middle of the hall.
My eyes scrolled across the page and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I looked at my grades again and again, thinking they would change to three A’s. Never in a million years had I thought this would be my situation.
I had planned to attend Warwick University to study Law but to see that reality stripped from me has been one of the most painful experiences to date. The fear of studying at a non-Russell Group university shook me to the core. Family, friends and mentors had all mentioned that a Russell Group university, particularly for a course such as Law, was non- negotiable.
I believed it was an all or nothing situation but after deciding to read Law at the University of Leicester, I came to the conclusion that this is not entirely the case. I have grown to not only love the Law school but the university as a whole; the atmosphere, the vast amount of societies, the people and especially the city. This experience has taught me so much already, but here are the main lessons:
1. Love your University. I understand the pain of attending a university you had probably never thought of studying at. However, this is your reality now and opening your mind to the possibility of attending other universities can mentally prepare you for any mishaps or unexpected scenarios beforehand.
When I stopped thinking about what life would have been like at Warwick and started to enjoy the amazing opportunities Leicester presented, my experience changed a lot. I realised I was missing out on many events, competitions and even special talks at my Law school.
The most recent lecture was from Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court who led on the majority judgement case for Brexit. It was an exciting event that not every university could offer and the thought of missing out just because I had not taken advantage of the opportunity saddened me.
2. Attend the Careers Fair I met a lot of firms at the law fair but realised early on that I would have to take regular trips to London if I wanted to continue to build on these professional relationships.
At Russell Group universities, the same firms would hold events such as law balls and mentoring programmes. Therefore I knew I had to put extra work in to secure internships as I didn’t have as much access to these networks.
Attending events and expanding your contacts are incredibly important, especially if you want to gain insight on what employers expectations before you begin the application process.
Unfortunately some companies are more involved with Russell Group universities due to limited resources. However this should not discourage you as they have been taking massive steps to close the gap with diversity by holding inclusion events and collaborating with organisations such as BLD Foundation, Aspiring Solicitors and WCANetwork.
3. Good Friends Are Essential! If I have learnt anything from being in university these few months, it is the importance of good and relatable friends. Not just friends who are purely there for the social life, although that is important too! I am referring to those who give you the side-eye when you tell them you are not doing the practice essay and tell you to “fix up.’’
My friends have helped me in developing confidence in myself and I have realised that my journey does not have to be an isolated one.
As soon as my friends and I are aware about any Law related events, we are instantly talking about it and encouraging each other to apply. We are constantly checking up on each other and I know if I have any problems, I can go to them without hesitation.
I have always imagined university to be this dog-eat-dog world where you had to be selfish to succeed, but my experience tells a different story. Although my path has changed, my goal has stayed the same. I have learned that the most exciting and unique experiences in life are not always planned and accepting this truth has helped me to appreciate the path I am now on.
Deborah is a LLB Law Undergraduate from the University of Leicester.