University interviews: My experience

It’s been almost five years to the day since my university interview. The thought is still terrifying, but it had a happy ending.

*Spoiler, I’m now a staff writer at Source HQ*

Me on the morning of my interview

Nowadays my university interview seems like a bit of a throwback. It was half a decade ago on Valentine’s Day and probably one of the most nerve-racking days of my life.

I went to three different interviews in total, the interview I’m discussing (Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian) was the one I really wanted – no pressure!

Becoming a journalist had been my dream for a long time and this course had everything I wanted.

A good university campus, plenty of societies and the hope of a social life after living in a small town for 17 years were also motivation to ace it.

Commitment

Real footage of me having to get up at 5am

For me, heading along to my interview meant a big commitment. I had to miss a day of school during prelim season and travel to Glasgow for the day.

Looking back, a three hour train journey at six in the morning maybe wasn’t the best choice. If you have an early interview and have to travel it’s best to stay in the city you’re travelling to the night before so you can be prepared, not flustered like I was.

After almost being late, getting lost on the university campus and having a nervous cry in the bathrooms, I made it to the right department.

Social pressure

When I arrived I was shown to a room where all the other interviewees were waiting. There must have been around 20 other people waiting and only one empty seat left.

I sat myself down next to a group of teens who looked just as terrified as I was.

Spoiler alert: when they say you’ll meet some of your best friends at uni they’re serious. This little group of people went on to be some of my closest friends to this day.

The fact that I could tell most of them also had a breakdown on their way in was reassuring. We all got chatting and soon things seemed a little less daunting.

Realising everyone is as terrified as you are makes them seem less like your competition and more like people.

If people aren’t sociable at your interview, or you’re too nervous to talk, don’t worry. There’s a lot of pressure to grab the closest person and become their friend, but everyone is in the same boat and won’t judge you if you stay quiet.

Face to face

My interview lasted almost a full day and was split into four parts. The face to face interview, a grammar editing test, a news test and a voice test.

If that seems like a lot, it was. Looking back, they may have been overdoing it.

The tasks were daunting but I had been told what would happen when I was offered the interview so had prepared as much as I could.

I came equipped with a list of my favourite journalists and made sure I was up to date on all the latest news and events.

The first thing was the face to face interview. For me, this was carried out by two lecturers.

At the time I had no idea who they were, now I know that they were the heads of the media and journalism department for the university. I went in expecting them to try and catch me out or question me until I broke. That didn’t happen.

They were friendly, reassuring and just wanted to know why I liked writing, if I had any experience and why I wanted a place on the course.

The fact that they were smiling and didn’t mind if I minced my words due to nervousness took some of the pressure off.

1, 2, 3 testing

Me to myself when I realised I wasn’t rubbish

Next came the news quiz and grammar test. I have no idea how I did in these and I have no desire to know. I think I’ve pretty much blocked them from my memory due to how much I was freaking out.

The voice test was probably the most daunting part of the day for me. My voice is something I have always been self-conscious about and the thought of being recorded while I read the news made me squirm.

I was taken into one of the university’s radio studios with a lecturer and two other interviewees. We were then given a sheet with a transcription of the news that day and asked to read it one at a time.

To my surprise, the lecturer told me my reading had been good. Little did I know this was the start of me losing the paranoia about my voice and realising you shouldn’t listen to high school frenemies telling you your accent is weird…

The start of something new

Once the interview was over I met my brother, snuck into a showing of The Wolf of Wall Street while I was still underage (anything for Leo) and tried to put the day to the back of my mind.

A few weeks later I received a conditional offer for the course at Glasgow Caledonian University and bawled my eyes out.

My university interview was long, tiring and terrifying, but it was all worth it. That September I started the course and loved it.

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