The Degree Link

I finished secondary school in 2012 and like many of my peers applied to university. It seemed like the natural progression but like most 18 year olds, I was not entirely sure what I wanted to do with my immediate future let alone my career.

I applied for a variety of different courses, from Geophysics to International Relations. On results day, I left work on my break to rush home and open my results, which were not quite what I needed to get into any of the courses I had applied for. I felt disappointed, but could not help the overwhelming sense of relief. I now had the time and the freedom to relax, which I think after a few stressful final years at school was something that I desperately needed.

On this unintentional ‘gap year’, I worked hard at my job, earned a lot of money and took a few holidays. I had a few months placement at Expro later on in the year and I learned a lot about corporate communications and public relations. When that year came to an end, I knew that I had to find a way to get into this sort of career.

Despite this, I felt a lot better about continuing my education this time round. I was ready to go back and study something I actually enjoyed and I think the time I took to realise what I really wanted to do was fundamental in my decision.

I didn’t consider university, instead looking at what North East Scotland College, then Aberdeen College, had to offer. I initially applied for Advertising with Public Relations but after my interview, the course leader Grace Grimshaw, suggested I take the Creative Industries; Media and Communication course instead.

This was possibly the best piece of advice I have ever received. The Media and Communication course was much better suited to my needs and my talents. I have always been a strong writer, excelling at English. I love reading and find writing comes naturally to me so the opportunity to be able to study not only communication and public relations but also modules like journalism where I ran my own news blog, was amazing.

I also studied advertising, design, intercultural communication and much more. The variety of the course really helped me find my passion and in my HND year, I produced a public relations campaign for my graded unit which got an A.

Filled with confidence, I chose BA Hons; Public Relations at RGU rather than the Media course which many of friends chose instead. Knowing I would be split up from people that I had established strong friendships with was a little bit daunting but I knew that PR was the right route for me.

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After completing my HND, I was accepted into RGU. My first day was a bit of a whirlwind. The second week I found myself with another transfer student from Glasgow College. It was easy to strike up a friendship with someone in the same situation as me, and for her even worse because she was in a new city on top of being in a new university. Before I began third year, all of my friends who were the year above me now because of my year out, were warning me of the perils of third year and how hard it was.

I think my college background was indispensable throughout my entire third year and had prepared me very well for starting at university. The same was found for my friend from Glasgow College and from my friends in the Media course.

The one thing I struggled with was the grading system. Having being used to a Pass/Fail structure, it was different to suddenly being graded for all my work. I learned the importance of references, something that was not really a big issue in college, suddenly became essential to my work.

Thankfully, it is something that I have improved on and will hopefully be second nature to me in fourth year. The modules in the PR course were interesting and the opportunity to go on placement was certainly a factor in my choice of university. In my placement, I got the opportunity to create a marketing strategy.

I am looking forward to fourth year, the modules I have chosen look really interesting and I can’t wait to start learning more about them. I am also looking forward to my dissertation, as I love working on a research project especially as the topic will be my choice.

During the summer, I took a nice two week holiday to Florida and upon my return, embarked on a two week placement in the RGU Communications Office. The placement was by far my favourite and I gained so much knowledge. I got the chance to write up graduation stories for the 2016 graduates, as well as press releases and stories about the Gray’s School of Art Degree show. It has been a fantastic opportunity and I cannot thank the team enough for the experience.

I hope my story helps other degree link students who are transitioning from college to university and provides reassurance that it’s all worth it in the end. I hope to come back to the communications office throughout my fourth year and hopefully come out the other side with a degree in public relations. I cannot wait to make my family, boyfriend and friends proud and that is all the motivation I need!

Kirsty Groseneil

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