Studying remotely at my first choice university: Manchester
Gabriela took A-levels at Kings Brighton and is now studying at Management, with an Industrial Placement year, at the University of Manchester. She’s currently studying online from Brazil, but is hoping to travel to the UK in February to start her in-person classes.
Hi Gabriela. Which course did you take at Kings Brighton? What was your specialism?
I took A-levels, and my subjects were History, Geography, and Government and Politics. I started my course in January so in the first year I had to study over the summer, and then it was the normal cycle in my second year. Well, it was normal until March when the school closed, obviously!
Yes, of course. Did you stay in the UK when the coronavirus pandemic hit or did you travel back to Brazil?
I went back to Brazil. It would have been hard to be so far away from my family.
Why did you choose to Kings Brighton?
Firstly, I did a lot of research about different schools in the UK, and then I also had used an education agent, and they helped me to find schools that offered A-levels, as I wanted to do A-levels specifically as they’re best if you want to carry on with a UK education and they’re globally recognised.
"Kings Brighton was the right choice for me because it’s a small school and they focus a lot on student wellbeing. My parents wanted me to be taken care of, but at the same time to have a high quality of learning. I discovered Brighton and heard that it’s a smaller city and people are more friendly. Also, my parents liked the Kings Brighton residence as it is on-campus and has a live-in supervisor."
Did you enjoy living in Brighton? Were you happy with the choice you made?
Yeah Brighton is a great city! It’s one of the hottest cities in the UK with the most sunshine. Coming from a very sunny country like Brazil to a very rainy country was of course difficult, but people are very welcoming and helped me with anything I needed.
The Kings residence staff, such as Annika, were very helpful in when I was dealing with homesickness.
Which university were you accepted to? Which course are you studying?
I was accepted to University of Manchester and I’m studying Management with a Placement Year, so it’s a 4-year course. The placement year is during my third year.
Was that one of your top choices?
Yes, it was my first choice!
How’s your first semester going so far?
I’m happy with the university, but not with the online learning! They’re trying to make it as interactive as possible, and there’s nothing more they can do with the current situation, but it’s not the same as face-to-face.
"My lectures are all pre-recorded so we can access them via the online platform whenever we need to, and then the seminars are live classes with around 20 students. Within the seminars, we have smaller study groups of 4 students so it’s easier to do group work and presentations."
Did your experience of online study with Kings at the end of your course help prepare you for studying online now?
Yes, but with Kings it was more revision and going over things that we’d already covered, whereas now it’s all learning new things so it’s very different. The pace of the lessons is very fast!
Kings is a very small school, so you get lots of personal attention, but Manchester is one of the biggest universities in the UK so sometimes I feel a bit lost! I do however have a personal tutor and we also have a Student Mentor — who’s a second or third-year student — so they can help with any issues.
How did you find the transition from Kings Brighton to university?
"I feel like Kings gave me the foundation to be where I am today — the academic foundation, and also the personal development foundation. I arrived at Kings as one person, and I left as a completely different person because of all the experiences that I had with my teachers and my friends!
I’ve never had so many friends from so many different countries — it was a life-changing experience. It helped my prepare for going to a British university.
We heard that you played an active role in the student community whilst you were at Kings Brighton?
I was the President of the Student Council, and also one of the editors and members of the Student Magazine team. I was also a Social Media Ambassador during my first year. John [Student Services Manager] also helped me to organise a volunteering placement in a local charity shop.
Were you able to include these things in your Personal Statement when submitting your university application?
Yes, it was really helpful! They gave me an offer within one month!
I also did National Citizen Service — that’s another tip for enjoying your life in Brighton and to stand out in your university application. The staff can help students to take part in it. The Autumn option is the most suitable for Kings students because over the British summer (when the NCS summer program happens) Kings students are usually back home.
What was the process in deciding which university you wanted to apply to? How did you make the decision?
For the course, I read through the sections on the UCAS website about careers which is good for people who are not sure what they want to do. When I discovered the Manchester course and it was very broad, I thought this was the right option for me as it can lead into many different careers afterwards. The placement year also really appealed to me as I think it will help me in my career.
For deciding on the university, I looked at the rankings first of all. I went to the Open Days last year — to Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester.
'Based on the Open Days, I decided I liked Manchester. It’s not all about the rankings sometimes. Of course, the rankings are important, but you have to really belong somewhere and be able to see yourself being happy there for 3 or 4 years."
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of doing a Kings A-level programme who wants to go to University of Manchester?
My advice would be to research and make sure that you know what to expect and what will be expected of you. You should research the academic requirements, because you have to be very committed to excel at A-levels and get good grades. It is very challenging, but at the end of it you just feel so proud of yourself and the whole thing feels worth it. Go through the process knowing what it will involve, as it’s definitely not easy!
"Also, you should do as many activities and extra-curricular options as you can. You can have excellent grades, but your personal statement is really crucial and it’s good if you’ve done extra things that are related to your subject area to help you stand out and get an offer. You should get involved with all the opportunities that Kings offer, and if you have ideas for new things to do then just tell the staff and they will try and find a way to make it happen."
Personally speaking, living away from home has of course been difficult, but you can meet people from everywhere in the world and it will be amazing!