A-Level results day can be a time of great joy for those who get the grades they need, and great worry for those who don’t. But University of Worcester graduate Jess Mason’s message is ‘don’t panic’.
“I knew my A-Level results were not the best that I was capable of,” said the 22-year-old, “and I felt that leaving education at that point would be letting myself down, so I started looking in to access courses and other ways of getting myself to uni’.”
Concerned that she didn’t have enough UCAS points to get straight in to university, Jess chose an access course at a local college, but when she turned up for her induction, she was told that the course had been cancelled, leaving her with no obvious next step and seemingly no route to higher education. It was then that a time-honoured British cure-all stepped in to help... a cup of tea:
“After an emotional few hours - and several cups of tea - in a friend’s kitchen, my friend managed to talk me into calling the Clearing hotline for Worcester Uni’,” Jess, from Redditch, says. “I was not expecting anything to come of it, but there was a space on the Computing course, and they said I could start on Monday... which was in four days time!”
Jess admits that clearing this major hurdle and finally securing a place at university didn’t signal an immediate end to her doubts, but her drive and determination eventually began to turn the situation around.
“I certainly didn't cruise into higher education,” she says, “and for a lot of the first year I really struggled with doubting myself, and wondering whether I'd made a mistake in thinking I could pull it back after my A-Level results, but once I really started applying myself in my second year, finishing uni with a First just seemed more and more likely.”
Jess credits the breadth of subjects covered in her course with helping her to discover where her interests lay within computing. From web design to coding, and project management to the software life cycle, Jess was able to narrow down her interests until she knew which part of computing she wanted to pursue in her career.
“I actually started applying for jobs whilst I was still studying,” she says. “I uploaded my CV to an online careers site and I was immediately bombarded with 10-15 calls a day from recruiters offering interviews and opportunities all over the country. I ended up landing a fantastic job after my second interview.”
“My course was really useful in helping me get an idea of how the things we were learning might be applied in the work place,” she adds. “In fact, the software development model we used in an app-making group project at uni’ is pretty much the same as the one my team uses at work every day.”
Despite struggling initially with the transition from college to university, Jess went on to secure a First Class degree, graduating last year, and secured an exciting job as a Software Engineer with Malvern Panalytical. When asked what her advice would be for others facing similar circumstances, Jess is keen to emphasize the rewards that can come from sticking at it when the going gets tough.
“I didn’t find university easy at first,” she says. “On top of everything else, just the thought of living with a bunch of strangers was terrifying, but it turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had.”
“If you decide that uni’ is for you, then throw yourself into every single aspect of it. Obviously you're at Uni’ ultimately to get a degree, but it's so much more than that. Live on campus, join a society, get to know your course mates, and go to as many events as you possibly can. Basically just embrace every single opportunity uni’ offers you because there will be so many of them, and a lot of them you'll never get the chance to do once uni is over. Oh... and trust me... the three years goes quick!”