My experience as a first-generation student

Olivia Gough

The transition can be daunting

Hi, I’m Olivia! I’m a first-generation scholar studying Criminology at Hatfield College here at Durham University. As a student myself, I recognise that the transition to higher education can be a daunting prospect, however, the collegiate system here at Durham makes the process welcoming and reassuring. For me, Durham was a mix between and the modern and the traditional, with all the conveniences and amenities of a full-sized city and Newcastle just on the doorstep.

View of the Castle (University College) and Elvet Bridge

There are lots of opportunities

The University has a variety of opportunities open to everyone, whether that be sports, hobbies, or even international experiences alongside your degree. I spent my 3rd year studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea thanks to the support of the International Office and funding by the Turing Scheme. What opportunities will you discover here at Durham?

My top tips for surviving year 13

Applying to university can be a confusing time, whether that be deciding where you want to study, what subject you want to explore, or (perhaps the most difficult of all) writing personal statements. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the chaos of year 13, but here are my top tips and tricks to surviving year 13 and applying to university.

Visit if you can

One of the best pieces of advice I tell every prospective student is to visit the University and the city to get a good feel of the environment. After all, you’re likely going to be spending at least 3 (hopefully very enjoyable) years at university and you really want to make sure that you can picture yourself spending time and studying at the university. Personally, I enjoyed exploring the history of the city and the quirky traditions at each of the colleges before making any final decisions.

Personal statements

Writing personal statements can be tricky and stressful, and I’m sure that they are everyone’s least favourite part of the process! I for one had no idea about what to write about. Personal statements can seem ambiguous and a bit like an impossible mountain to climb when you’re thinking of applying to university, but, when you break it down it is much more manageable.

Remember that nerves are completely normal throughout the process, especially when you’re waiting for university decisions and you’ve done everything you can. It’s important to remember that everyone applying to university feels this way at some point of the process.

Be patient

Sometimes it can take a little while to get a decision on your application but do not fear! Although, the wait can feel like forever; please don’t worry about the length of time it takes to hear about your result. Whilst the wait can be very daunting, it just means that the university wants to give equal consideration to every applicant before decisions are made. The length of time it takes to hear back has no bearing on the outcome of your application.

Ask us anything

Finally, if you have any questions about the university (or just feel a little bit lost), feel free to contact the university on Ask Us or speak to our friendly team of student ambassadors online using UniBuddy.

You can also ask us questions on The Student Room where Durham has a profile.

Good luck in your applications!

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Olivia Gough

Hi! I'm Olivia, a 4th year studying Criminology with a Year Abroad, at Durham University in Hatfield College. I am a first-generation scholar and previous Supported Progression student.  Often, you’ll find me out hiking around the countryside or trying to find Durham’s best restaurants.

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