Photo: University of Bath
Applying to a university with a BTEC qualification is one thing, and applying to the University of Bath and other top universities with this qualification can feel very daunting. When I applied I was very concerned I was not good enough for the University and that I might not fit in with the life and other students there. However, while the transition and stepping up to study at a higher level may prove difficult, and can do for any student, it is possible for you to settle in well and excel at the University.
In this blog, l will talk about my experience while applying to the University of Bath with BTEC qualifications and my current experience as a student. Hopefully, my journey will help you feel more confident about applying to the University of Bath and to adapt to this new learning environment whilst settling into university life.
A bit about me.
My name is Munya Jingura and l am currently in my placement year of a BSc in Management. Before university, l studied 2 BTEC Extended Certificates; Business and Information Technology (IT), with one A-Level in Sociology. I received Distinction* and Distinction grades in my BTECs and a grade B in Sociology A-Level.
At first, l wanted to do an apprenticeship as it was easier to get with my BTECs. I knew with my qualifications, l was going to be made an offer by most universities, however, l wanted to go to a top university and the fear of being rejected made me reluctant to even apply in the first place. However, after speaking to Career Advisers at my college and attending open events, l decided to apply to university, whilst keeping apprenticeship opportunities open.
What made me consider the University of Bath was the fact that it is in the top 5 Management Schools in the country and the historical city of Bath caught my eye. During the open event, l spoke to one of their Admission team members about my concerns with being accepted and they provided me with a lot of information and guidance, which motivated me to apply. A few weeks after applying, l received a conditional offer that required two Distinction grades in my BTEC Extended Certificates and an A in the A-Level subject. Although the only way to guarantee entry to the University is to meet the conditions of an offer, Bath still accepted me, despite receiving a grade B in A-Level.
Coming to the University, l still felt like l was not good enough and l was worried that I wasn't going to settle in well. However, support from a Personal Tutor assigned to me, made me feel at ease. During the early months, the stress of adapting myself to a new place along with new learning styles that included independent learning, academic writing, and lectures threw me off-guard. Moreover, I thought that students with A-Levels were academically well prepared for this new learning style when the truth was that we were all in the same boat.
However, whilst this was challenging, we constantly received help sessions from the library and Student Services, including one-on-one support. One of the main things that l was worried about, both before applying to and at the University, was the assessment methods. However, since BTEC course assessment types are mostly assignments and fewer exams, this gave me an advantage over other students for university coursework. Nevertheless, l was constantly worried about exams as this put me outside of my comfort zone and it sometimes felt like I was going to fail them.
In my first year, even though I passed my finals, l did not perform as well as l wanted in my exams as compared to my coursework. However, on the Management course, first-year grades do not count towards the final year. This was a bit of a relief and gave me more time to practice taking exams. My recent exams show continuous improvement in my grades. My recommendation to any student would be to do a lot of practice papers and talk to your Personal Tutor to get more help and guidance with exams.
In college, BTEC classes often had fewer students, and this made it easy to interact and make friends. At universities, lectures have many people that make it difficult to connect with other students. However, there are a lot of societies and clubs where you can easily make friends. At first, l was less interested in trying out new things and being more open to people, but knowing that we were all strangers, pushed me to engage with what others were doing.
I hope this short blog about my experience has given you an insight into university life as a BTEC student and has further encouraged you to apply. For me, doing a BTEC gave me the ability to be flexible and adapt easily, which are some of the most essential skills needed at university. Some of the practical skills I gained from my BTEC in IT allowed me to even develop my own Streetwear Website. It also puts you a step ahead as you are already used to doing coursework and working in groups.
Most top universities are well informed about BTEC courses and will treat your application fairly during admission. Make sure you check the entry requirements section for the course you are interested in on their website so that you are well informed about what they are able to consider and the typical offer. Try to attend as many open events as you can to learn more about the University and also to get a chance to interact with the admissions team members to get more tailored advice and guidance on your application.
If you have any questions about my experience or simply want to know anything, feel free to leave a comment down below.