How I ended up studying in London
I never expected to be where I am right now. I never expected to be studying in the heart of London at King’s College London. It was a very backwards way that I got here. But I think that I made the right choice and so far, I’m loving it. As a way of introduction, I’m going to tell the story of how I did end up studying here, with all the accidentals and convincing.
About this time last year, I had a very different plan. I was going to apply to colleges but take a gap year in Nashville. I was a songwriter and performer and wanted the chance to pursue that and I thought that if I waited until after college, I’d be much older than I ever wanted to be in getting there. I would get accepted somewhere (hopefully at an amazing school) and commit there, but would apply for a gap year then live in Nashville. If I thought that things were going well in Music City, there was a chance that I would cancel my enrollment all together.
I ended up applying to 22 schools. Ridiculous for someone who wasn’t even planning on going, yes? Yes. But it happened anyways, and though I don’t regret applying for so many, I do regret not focusing on just a few and really putting time into them. I just didn’t know where I wanted to go to college.
I had always loved the idea of studying in England, going all the way back to when I was younger and wanted to study creative writing and the thought of studying at Oxford where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien had once walked was thrilling. In researching out that old dream to see if it was plausible, I learned a bit about the UK system but also realized that I didn’t really want to apply anywhere because it meant taking more tests, possibly taking my A Levels (the British high school exit exam), and applying on a completely different program called UCAS instead of the Common App.
But, there was one school that stood out to me and that was also on the Common App. King’s College London was the only really great school in the UK that was easy to apply to. And it only had an extra 700 word essay. So I applied. I didn’t even know if I would hear back from the school because I didn’t understand their system completely or if I did it right, but I applied.
And about three weeks later, only a few days after I got notice that they had received my SAT subject scores, I also got an acceptance letter. It was conditional, I still had to take and score a certain amount on a SAT history subject test, but I was accepted. I remember coming downstairs, astonished, asking my Dad to look at it to see if it was really what the letter was telling me and then his words of how I had to, just had to, take advantage of this opportunity.
Over that weekend, I felt my entire mentality change about what I would be doing the next year. London fit, it made sense, it was a whole world opening up before my eyes. And I would be finishing my degree in 3 years, so I’d be 20 when I got out, so not too old to still go to Nashville. My Nashville dream hadn’t dimmed, but I quickly realized that the dream could wait while I grabbed onto this chance that wouldn’t wait for me.
So I studied for my SAT subject test, the thing that would make my acceptance final and planned for London. I researched and watched every YouTube video on the subject, read every blog post. There weren’t that many resources online specifically for American students going abroad for their degrees, which was what inspired me to begin this blog. I learned more about King’s and got really excited for the next three years. Then I took the test.
I got my score back in mid July, about a month before the British students got their A Levels and became confirmed at King’s. I was 2 points off from the mark that would confirm me. I’ll go into this more later when I talk about confirmations and how it all works, but I was only 2 marks away on my SAT subject test.
I was scared, I was worried, but I also had a feeling about King’s. And so far my intuition had been completely right about my college acceptances (I knew just before opening it that I would be accepted into NYU and waitlisted for Georgetown the same way that I knew just before reading it that I wouldn’t be accepted to Brown and University of Chicago). So I waited a long month to let the British students receive their scores, for the college to look at how many spaces they had left, and to see if they wanted to admit me still.
They did. I really think it was because I was so close to my score, I had submitted a mitigating concerns form (about a personal matter that had happened near the taking of my test), and because my original application was so strong. Whatever it was, I was in.
That month was a whirlwind of planning and packing and making arrangements to get me over here. A lot of it went smoothly, some of it went a lot worse than smoothly, but I’ll talk about those things in future blog posts. This was just a short history of how I ended up studying at King’s, a place I never thought I’d be in life, but somewhere I couldn’t be happier to be right now.
And, so, here I am. At King’s College London until June 2021 when I get my degree in History and International Relations. Until then, I have a whole lot of work to do, but I think I’m up for the challenge
Keep up to date with what I’m posting so you can learn all about studying full time in the UK!