Calista McCready

Criminal Justice and Criminology BA
Talking about
Going to university after studying a BTEC qualification

Why did you choose to study your degree at the University of Leeds? 

It offered the most help and range of activities to do, I also liked the look of the city and thought the University of Leeds would be perfect. Being a Russell Group university also helped to influence my decision as it will help me to get higher status jobs in the future.

What were your concerns before coming to study at Leeds? 

I was concerned that I would lag behind my fellow students due to not having studied A-Levels. Also, I had not done an exam since my GCSEs so I knew I needed to relearn revision skills which would be tough, but the help is available as I found out. 

What helped you feel confident in your academic abilities at Leeds? 

I was placed in a tutor group with other students who came to university through less common routes, and was given a personal tutor who understood this and helped with the induction process. Regular meetings with my tutor also helped to give me more confidence in myself.

What are the positives of having a BTEC qualification that have helped you on your course? 

I feel as though I had a lot of practical skills such as communication and team leading. This helped me to make friends and be able to be confident when presenting. I was also very used to working to deadlines as BTEC coursework is due every week, so I was used to a big workload. 

Did you face any challenges studying at Leeds? 

At first I did not know how to write academically with critical thinking. However, after sessions on this, I was able to understand it. Tutor support led me to the library where I was able to get further advice on this to help me excel in my assignments. 

Can you tell us about positive experiences at Leeds that have made you feel a part of the University? 

Freshers’ Week in particular made me feel a part of the university. This was because everyone was there to help each other and there was an immense amount of support which made me feel secure. 

A highlight of university for me was being able to secure a volunteer role within the special constabulary. This was through the support of my personal tutor who helped guide me through the application process and gave me the confidence so that I was able to believe in myself. 

What advice would you give to another BTEC student coming to the University of Leeds?

To make the most of the university experience, I would just say to try everything. Anything that is offered to you, just give it a go, new sports or hobbies you would never do elsewhere.

You should just be yourself, everyone is in the same boat and no one is judging you, people will want to support you – similarly you’ll want to succeed and go on that journey together.

Always ask when you’re stuck with work or anything. Time at university goes so quick and it is not worth spending the time stressing when people are there who are willing to help you.