The pressure of applying to university

By Beth Wilson

Often I find myself wondering why I ever decided to put myself through so much stress just to get into university. 13 years of education to find out on a slip of paper (or mostly online nowadays) whether all those years of hard work paid off.

And the answer is; I’m not sure. I still have less than a year to go, so of course, naturally every part of my mind is in constant overload. There is the fear of the unknown:

Where will I be a year today?

Which city will I be in?

What type of accommodation?

Or will I have even made it to university?

These are thoughts that occur to me on a daily basis and sometimes the anxiety of it all gets the better of me. I am currently 9 weeks away from my last set of mocks before my real A level exams, so the pressure really is on.

Right now I, along with thousands of other 17 and 18 year olds, am busy trying to write a perfect personal statement. One that will help determine whether we make it onto the course that we want to do. Most of the time we have to write about a course or career that we actually have no idea about. (Not to mention doing 3 or 4 A levels as well!).

However on those days where things get a bit too much, you have to teach yourself to take a step back and breathe. During most situations at school or in my personal life where I have been so frustrated or upset that I can’t concentrate, leaving it for a while has really helped. You’ll be surprised how much more you get done.

One of my teachers said to me recently when she saw that I was upset: ‘what is the worse that can happen?’ At first I just agreed (as it’s usually what someone says to you when you’re overreacting). However, she then went on to explain one of her mechanisms for coping, which is simply just rational thinking.

I have always avoided thinking about what will happen on results day if I see 3 E’s or just don’t meet my asking grades because it makes me extremely nervous. But rational thinking can help reduce these anxieties. For example, what happens if I don’t get my grades? Well, instead of letting my world crumble down around me I could go through clearing, re-take my exams or even take a gap year!

My point is, the future is unknown. That can be a very daunting prospect, but also extremely exciting. My advice to everyone with regards to university stress is that there are many aspects that are out of your control. So focus on the present and keep a positive attitude about what’s to come.

It will all work out.

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