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Non-traditional routes to university

Should you talk about any non-traditional experiences that have gotten you to apply for university? If so, how? This article tells all!
student studying in the library
© University of York

Not everyone decides to come to university straight after college, or has what might be classed as a ‘traditional’ route through to higher education – and that’s great!

We are all individuals, and using that knowledge is what can make you stand out at interview. All departments will welcome students from a range of backgrounds and routes into university – just be sure to check exact entry requirements in advance and to follow the advice from this course and other experts when preparing for interview.

If you are a mature student, or have had different educational experiences, here’s some ideas on how you can present this to the interviewer:

  • Interviewers are more than happy for candidate’s to share any background information about themselves if they are comfortable to do so as long as it is relevant. It can often be quite helpful for an interviewer to get to know you, your experiences and your skills.
  • Think about the ‘why’. If you’ve had a past career, or different experiences growing up, why have these impacted on your course decision?
  • Focus on the motivation and values that your experiences have given you
  • Interviews aren’t necessarily about your academic knowledge, so don’t let worries about taking time away from education hold you back or disrupt your performance on the day
  • Be confident, but not overly do. Your past experiences may stand you in great stead but no interviewer wants to assess someone who acts like they know it all already!

It’s really important to stress that what you may see as an ‘unusual’ route to university, or ‘different’ experiences growing up to your peers is not seen as a bad thing! It is what makes you, you and that is great!

Do you have any further thoughts on how to use any non-traditional experiences within an interview? Share them with the community in the discussion below!

© University of York
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