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Top uni for history degree to be worthwhile? watch

    • Thread Starter

    Hi everyone, I just need some help.

    I'm starting the access course this september with the hope of going to uni in 2014 to study history.

    I will be 25 when I apply and my previous academic record is pretty terrible, hence the access course.

    Basically what I want to know is this.
    If I don't apply to the top 10-20 universties for history will my degree still be worthwhile? I'd like to think that I may apply to one or two top places but my lack of good education when I was younger leads me to believe that they wouldn't consider me.

    I'm not aiming for a top well paid job in the city or anything like that. I'd perhaps like to work in the museum/heritage/tourism sector or maybe eventually teach but I'm choosing history because of my passion for the subject.

    If anyone could help I would be very grateful.

    Aim high.

    You dont need to think that because you are a Mature student with a 'dodgy' educational start in life that no 'serious' Uni will now accept you. Unis love Mature students - they worker harder, are better organised and dont need as much spoon feeding. So, dont write off all Russell Group/1994 Group Unis. They have very different admissions requirements for anyone over 21 that can often overlook any deficiencies from your school years. I was accepted by a Russell Group Uni at 30 without any A levels and appalling GCSEs - I had passed two OU Units and thats all they looked at. Check that they will accept just your Access course for admissions (a quick email to the Admissions Office) and start dreaming.

    Not all History courses are the same. Most History Depts have a two or three subject focuses and their u/grad & post-grad taught courses function around that - ie. Medieval, American History, Imperial History, Holocaust Studies etc etc etc as a few examples. So, look carefully at the detailed unit/module descriptions for all of the three years not just the 'this is what the course is about' general description.

    The nitty-gritty of League Tables is pretty meaningless, so dont get hung up on 'this one is two points further up than that one' sort of mindset. A good degree from a Uni in either Russell Group or the 1994 Group will be worth having. Look at these 'groups' on Wikipedia if you arent sure what Unis they include. Having said that, if your heart is set on going to XYZ Other Uni because they do a course unit in something you are passionate about, dont dismiss it, as *enjoying* what you are studying is crucial to your success at Uni.

    Also, dont forget to look at extras like a Year Abroad, optional language course or a 'different title' degree like American Studies, International History etc if that is a better fit to your interests than a straight History degree.

    Good Luck! Hope it all goes well for you.

    Nearly at the end of an Access course myself, with offers to go on to study Ancient History all from top 15 universities.

    A lot of what returnmigrant has written is spot on really.

    I don't want to repeat anything that has already been said, but what I can do is shed some light on how to get the best out of the access course.

    Firstly, don't let your previous educational achievements influence your performance. It is a completely fresh start and you will find most people are in exactly the same boat. I was never asked in any of my interviews about my past qualifications or educational experiences - not a single word.

    Secondly, the access course is designed so that you get out what you put in. I know it sounds extremely cliche, but if you really want to go to university, working like a machine for 9 months is a small price to pay.

    The most important commitments to make on the course are attendance as well as background and independant reading.

    The first section of the course is designed to ease you back into education, with help and advice on writing styles, referencing, note taking and revision structure. This is probably the most important part of the course, as all of these skills allow you to access the higher grades.

    You said you are passionate about History which is the most important factor in your decision, the one thing you have to remember is to convey this when you write your personal statement and application to university.

    When you apply, you will have very little grades, so you will be relying on your personal statement and your tutor's reference, which is more than enough to get offers from any university that you want to attend.

    My last piece of advice would be to make full use of the teaching staff and their free time. They are there to help you and guide you along the path to university and things like advice on additional reading sources, and getting feedback on assignments before you submit a final copy is invaluable!

    Good luck, and like returnmigrant said - Aim high!
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