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This is a guest blog written by Ashleigh Stevens who has just completed her second year of BA (Hons) Sociology here at BU. Ashleigh shares her journey to BU through the Clearing process.

Growing up, I was convinced that I would never go to university because nobody in the area I lived in did so I just assumed it wasn’t for me. When starting A-levels, I soon realised I wanted more in life than getting some qualifications, work at an average job for average pay and, whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, I knew I was academically capable of achieving much more for myself and my future pathways. Studying A-level Sociology, my mind was opened to a whole new world of thought and I knew I needed to develop the knowledge I was learning.

Originally applying for a mix of Sociology and Education across Cardiff, Gloucester, Bristol, Plymouth Marjon and Exeter, I then faced some personal setbacks that completely knocked my confidence and I regretfully withdrew my application. As it came to A-level results day way back in 2020 and all my friends were planning to head to university all across the country, I knew that was exactly what I needed to be doing as well. I was still set on the plan to study Sociology. I re-evaluated my original choices and was completely stuck with choosing where to go. With the help of some extremely supportive friends, I compiled a list of universities with spaces on the course I wanted to do.Ashleigh and her friends

With the courage plucked up to call Bournemouth University, I was met with a response by one of the lovely Clearing staff who really encouraged me and provided me with so much useful information that I needed to make the best decision to come to Bournemouth. I made my decision very quickly after being told all the wonderful opportunities I could gain through studying Sociology at BU and what the local area was like, especially for students.

With 3 weeks to go, I had to get plans put in place very quickly, including finding accommodation for my 1st year. I feared that I wouldn’t be left with much choice but due to COVID-19 playing a huge part in the decision to go to uni for many in my position that year, I was lucky to still have a fair few accommodation options open to me. It was pretty easy for me as I soon as I learnt that the majority of accommodation is based in the heart of Lansdowne, right next to the campus I would have teaching on and super close to Bournemouth town centre, and of course the beach, which is one of the biggest factors that led to me choosing BU – being from Devon and the university being close to the beach almost feels like a home away from home!Ashleigh socialising with friends in a pub

Despite my time at BU starting in a very restricted way due to COVID and online teaching, I had no uni experience to compare this to so I just had to make the best of a bad situation. I was still able to meet so many wonderful fellow students and I have been supported in so many different ways from lecturers I have had, as well as the wider services BU has to offer, such as the wellbeing team.

As restrictions eased and I headed into my 2nd year, the experience only got better – teaching began in person and the quality of teaching has been incredible, as well as the social life. I have had many opportunities given to me during my time at BU, including fulfilling many roles over the past year – being a Student Ambassador, Student Rep, PAL Leader and the President of the Social Science Society where I’ve had the privilege to work closely with the amazing staff across the Social Science department, as well as meeting many like-minded students across all year groups! As my 2nd year progressed, I was offered a full-time job for my placement year, which I will be doing in London and many other students I know are doing a whole variety of roles with several going to work abroad! The course itself has been fantastic over the past 2 years and I’ve been able to study a wide range of units around so many different topics within the world of Sociology.

Reflecting back on the Clearing process and how far the decision to come to Bournemouth University has got me, I would definitely say it’s the best decision I’ve made potentially in my whole life! I have never felt a part of a community as strongly – I feel a valued member of the Bournemouth University community. My advice to you as you draw to the end of reading my blog, would be to say that things quite often don’t go the way you were hoping for them to but that is not the end of the world. As much as problems can feel like the literal end of your life when things don’t go right, especially when you work so hard for them – there is always, always, always another option and place to feel at home here at Bournemouth University!

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