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Troubled academic career, need advice please! watch

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    Hi there,

    (presuming this is probably the right place to ask) I just need some advice on applying in the next couple of years, and it's terribly long-winded, so apologies in advance ......
    I went to college in Salford in 1999 to study French, Spanish, Theatre Studies and Art (having just gained 10 A*-B grades at school) at A-Level. Having discovered a social life I never had at school, I promptly forgot what studying was, dropping Art and Theatre in the second year and finishing up with a spectacular B in French (Lord knows how), D in Spanish and B in General Studies (but we all know that doesn't count). So I decided to go back for another year, repeating Spanish, resulting in an A grade, and AS Sociology and Classical Civilisation, gaining a B in both. I packed off to take up on an offer to study Spanish and Portuguese at King's College London, thinking my academic career had been salvaged, and all would be well. How wrong I was.
    London was awful. The course was great, but I couldn't afford not to have a job, my parents couldn't afford to support me much, and I couldn't fit in. A severe bout of clinical depression set in, owing to the contrast in my previous happiness at home compared to my lonliness and inability to settle in with a bunch of snobs who'd all been to private school and with loaded parents (I have since realised it's like that everywhere you go), when I'd spent all my life in state institutions at the top of the class. I left in March, went home and worked, travelled for a bit and got a bit better for a bit.
    My then boyfriend of a year and a half studies at Napier so In August 2003 I decided to migrate 400 miles in the opposite direction, and ended up at Heriot-Watt (Edinburgh) doing French and Spanish Interpreting and Translating (the actual title's a lot longer than that!) I'd stopped doing French for a reason, and two months into the course realised I hated it, again.
    Also with the horrors of halls the previous year I was avoiding them at all costs, so I moved in with a bunch of randoms into a city centre flat. This was also a terrible idea - I ended up with a muderous drunken rabid Northern Irish bloke who hated everyone in the world, and managed to get everyone else in the flat to hate each other too. I eventually moved in with my boyfriend, but not before this set off another round of depression, I ended up flunking the year again and spending all my time in bed.
    I eventually got to seeing a counsellor and getting on anti-depressants, and things are a bit better now, so I have suspended my studies at Heriot-Watt, and am considering my options for the next two years. I have to take some time out to clear my two overdrafts and two credit cards taken on in a moment of sheer madness, as well as see a psychotherapist, and to supplement I'm applying to teach English in Ecuador and Brazil (think - Spanish and Portuguese practice), as well as to be a private candidate at my old college to do A2 Sociology and Classical Civilisation (to be studied in my spare time, they're not too hard) and an online study thingy to do AS Philosophy and English Language (to bolster my applications). I want to apply to other universities in the meantime - Heriot-Watt is a nice place, but it's inconveniently far away from town (i.e. when I'm depressed I won't get up to get the bus, too much hassle) and the library and teaching's pretty rubbish compared to King's. I'm also desperate to do Portuguese, as I love it. I really love being in Edinburgh too, and my parents have agreed to finance my accommodation in the next few years as they really want me to get a degree, so money is less of a problem.
    So I intend to apply to good unis, all to do Spanish and Portuguese: Bristol (I have a lot of family there, so I would be stable), Edinburgh, Glasgow (not far away from Edinburgh, can see the boyf at weekends), Manchester and Salford (both at home). I'll definitely get a place at Salford, it's pretty easy to get into, but given my academic record I'm wondering if applying to the others is sheer stupidity. What I'm asking is, does anyone think I'll have a chance of getting into them. I don't mind taking two years out and paying top-up fees (they don't have to be paid up-front so it's less of a problem and it all works out the same if I take time to clear the extra debt I currently have) to avoid the rush. Any views would be appreciated
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    I admire you for still having the determination to pursue higher studies and I would advise you to do what you enjoy - Portugese sounds like a great pick. As for the university, obviously it would be nice to be taught in a stimulating environment by inspiring people, like you were at Kings (not that this doesn't happen at other places btw). If you can, try and select places where you will feel comfortable - it may well be a good idea to go somewhere close to family and friends, so that they can be there for you when you feel under the weather.

    I'm sure that if you work hard to ensure you get good grades in your present A-level studies, and contact the universities to explain some of the difficulties you have faced, they should take it into consideration. It is good that you have a thirst for learning and are trying to move on with things after setbacks - it shows strength of character and a willingness to succeed. I wish you the best in the future, and I admire your courage and thirst for learning.
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    Salford isn't that easy to get into, I know plenty of people who haven't got in. However with your record you will get in without a problem, it does have a decent reputation for languages as well.

    Have you not thought about going to Manchester?
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    (Original post by chiaki)
    I'll definitely get a place at Salford, it's pretty easy to get into,
    As soon as you read this line, you can just tell AT's "Salford isnt THAT easy to get into" comment is coming lol.
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    studying with depression is nigh on impossible so you need to become fairly stable (sorry it's an awful word and i mean it in the sense of not swinging between states not saying that you are unstable in the us sense)

    You can apply to the other uni's, the depression is classed as a disability so they are not allowed to disciminate against you because of that.

    Have you considered part time study? You don't get a loan (well ot much) but you should get your fees paid if you are on benefit. Getting out of bed and dragging yourself to a lecture is much easier if you are only attending one lecture a week.

    Until you have the depression sorted i don't think a trip to south america teaching is a good idea, where is your support network if you get a bout there?

    I think you should contact the unis you want to apply to and speak to their disability advisor. Ask what arangements can be made, what happens if you miss lectures due to depression that kind of thing. I think if you have any illness / disability / social circumstances that make studying more difficult you should go to the uni that supports your needs rather than the one with the 'best rep'.

    Eg I know one student who transfered from Imperial College to Wolverhampton. He was deaf and couldn't get an interpreter at imperial, his personal tutor had no deaf awareness and Wolves is one of the unis geared up to deaf students. It doesn't matter how good the uni is, if you can't access the lectures it's not the uni for you.

    Depression is something that comes and goes but for many people lasts a lifetime. It's not going to go away because you are at uni so work around it rather than fight it. Be prepared that some days you will not be able to get out of bed, but also be prepared that on other days you will. It sounds like you have a suportive family and bf which is something you cannot buy.

    BTW the guy you shared with who hated everyone, ar you sure he wasn't called Phill and came from Eire? If not I've met his doppleganger. He made one of my friends lives hell.
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    Hi again

    thanks for replying I'm looking to teach abroad to bolster my applications - I'm only going for six weeks at a time, and I think that by December/July I'll have got enough support through therapy and being at home to be okay doing the placements. I also honestly think that as depression (as opposed to the fluctuating social anxiety disorder I've had in some form or other all my life - doesn't help in a university situation with no old friends to back me up!) wasn't part of my make-up before I was 18, so when I become settled and stable again I doubt I'll suffer from it so much. I'm a pretty gregarious person, and the way I go about making friends (like I did at home, where it worked) doesn't hold with people from private/grammar schools, where the unacknowledged rule seems to be: "stay cool". And yes, I'm socially anxious. Don't ask. :confused:

    You can apply to the other uni's, the depression is classed as a disability so they are not allowed to disciminate against you because of that

    Is that really true? I would say I've been ill, but I'm sure there are some out there who have never experienced it, and given the fairly traditional nature of five out of the six uni's I'm applying to, I'm sure it may even be seen as weakness of will/character. I'm looking to go to a 'good' uni because it's what I aimed for all my life, I know what's involved there now having experienced King's, and I felt like I was wasting my time at H-W (every time I walked into the library I was peeing myself - King's has the former Public Records office in Chancery Lane, a building about five times the size of the library at H-W, and about 20 times as many books, I almost lived in there sometimes).
    I'm also not too interested in part-time study as I have better financial support from my parents now owing to my illness, I'm alright working part-time as long as it's no more than 12-15 hours per week and I'll have applied for my loans on time (a factor over the last two years has been applying late for loans and suffering with no food until they arrive, then going mad - university was a bit of an accident for me on both occasions, I was going to take a year out before my second application!)

    Lol, if you have 2 language A-Levels with my grades (and I'm probably about to jinx my application) I'd reckon it's easy to get into Salford, they accepted me once (and then for the course I wanted to do instead of the one I applied for), so I'm sure they'll accept me again, my old college is a feeder for it.

    I want to stay in Edinburgh because my boyfirend's here and I'm comfortable now - failing that going to Manchester would be great, or Bristol (the courses are essentially the same), however, I'm quite fickle, and I need to be able to keep my options open and apply to all the cities I have in mind. I intend now to take minimal part in university life, just go to lectures and work, and make friends away from university, who are more mature (I'll be 22 by the time I go back) and who stick about in the summer holidays and at weekends like I do!

    I'm so sorry, I'm ranting again

    I just don't want to be disappointed is all. If I have to I'll go back to H-W and do a slightly different course, I'm just wondering what the hell I'm gonna put on my UCAS personal statement

    The guy I shared with was called Graeme, and he's a raving evil loonatic, he's a rugby player and has blond hair - avoid at all costs! :mad:
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    Good for you to go for what you want!!
    But, if you did not like the people a Kings's, are you sure that those at Bristol and Edinburgh wil be any better? They both have a reputation for attracting high numbers of private school students.
    Though, perhaps your dislike of the King's students was due to other factors - going through a bad time moving away from home etc?
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    I didn't like the people at King's because they all seemed at pains to keep themselves to themselves when I'm not really like that (at least when I need to make friends) and also (this is not a nice thing to say, I do apologise) a good half of the students were of Spanish descent, and they sectioned themselves off and basically hijacked all the classes, so I have a bit of a thing with foreign students too. I'm not cut out to do the whole hog with uni anymore i.e. getting involved with the social things (I've been 18 already and I don't need to do that again), I just want to go to classes and do the work, and I can see people who don't go to uni instead, and by the time I'm 22 (which is when I'll be going back) I won't want to know at all. I do need a degree though (don't suggest the OU lol), and I don't see why I can't just participate academically, and maybe socailly when I'm a bit more settled and everyone's got the party out of their system. I want to do interpreting/translating (starting salary of £35000 anyone?!?) so I can't get out of it, and I enjoy Spanish and Portuguese anyway.
    Also another question, given the introduction of top-up fees in a couple of years time, and given that my chosen uni's WILL charge the full three grand, does anyone think that applying for 2006 rather than 2005 would be a better idea - I'll be more likely to get in with the higher fees putting others off? I think I'll be up against some stiff competition in the next two years because more people will apply. If I take two years out to clear up some of my debts (and I'll only be paying an extra £5500 in non-upfront fees which I can afford if I save) will I have a better chance? :confused:
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    Ach, come on, I've not answered my own question, I'm illustrating my point Will there be an extra rush of people for 2005 places, or has the govenment gotten around that with the gap year allowance now?
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    I see now. It was not the type of people at King's but their attitude. You will find plenty of out going people at all unis, whether they are private school or not- indeed some private school people are very out going.
    I'm not too sure about the top up fess situation but i can't invisage a mad rush for places seeing as the majority of people are unaffected by them, though it may reduce the numbers taking gap years - see other threads on this topic.
    Why not considder the OU? - it has got a good name and will allow you to continue to work and so will proabaly be cheaper then doing a full time degree; especialy as you don't need the social side of things.
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    Trying to do anything with depression is so difficult. I admire you being able to start again and having the strength not too give up. I've been on anti-depressants through my GCSE's and A levels and am possibly looking at spending a 4th (oh my god i didn't realise it was that bad) year studying A levels because i haven't felt well enough to fulfill my potential. I'm sure you know it won't be easy, you know that more than anyone, but you haven't bounced around from subject to subject and you seem to be sorting things out. I really wish you all the best, i did spanish at GCSE and always wanted to learn it fluently but i've never had the time!

    Just remember to take things a step at a time, i'm the worst person for trying to do too many things at once even when i am depressed.
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    Awww, fankoo for all the supportive replies That made me feel a lot better! xxxx
 
 
 

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