Friday, 11 November 2016

Experiences of a first year student: Applying to Norland College

Author: Abi Kohen, Set 40

I always knew that I wanted to work with children but I wasn’t completely sure which area I would choose, as I’d done a variety of work experience and enjoyed all of it. 

Trying on my uniform for the first time
I initially found out about Norland in 2014 through the ITV documentary ‘Britain’s Poshest Nannies’. When the documentary started my Mum rushed me into the sitting room and told me I had to watch this programme about Norland Nannies. From beginning to end I watched the programme in complete awe and was fascinated by the uniqueness of Norland. As soon as the documentary finished my mind was made up: I turned to Mum and said “I have to go to Norland”. From that moment on I was determined to get my place and to be the best early years practitioner I could be. 

After secondary school, I studied the International Baccalaureate at Truro College as I wanted to study a range of subjects so I didn’t limit my options if my Norland application was unsuccessful, as I was aware demand would be high. My second year of College came around and I began writing my personal statement ready to send to Norland. It was really challenging to sum up just how much I wanted a place there in only 47 lines! 

In November 2015 I sent off my personal statement and anxiously waited for a reply. Two weeks later I received an email informing me that I was invited to attend an interview. I felt very nervous, but began to prepare a portfolio ready for the group interview. The night before the interview I paced up and down my hotel room trying to remember everything I was going to say, practiced my bun for the morning, polished my shoes and was generally just doing anything I could to distract me from my nerves.

Moving into accommodation with my
new Norland housemates
As I stepped through the Norland College gates the next morning my nerves eased a little; everybody was so welcoming, making sure we were all settled and feeling ready for our interviews. Whilst waiting for my interview to start I sat in the common room and chatted with some of the other applicants; everyone appeared to be as nervous as each other! People had come with a variety of items for their group interview – from a collection of children’s shoes to a homemade pram. I knew that everyone in the room was out to impress and I knew that I really had to give the interview everything I could!

During the interviews the lecturers made me feel very calm and at ease. I found the best way to answer the questions was to pause for a moment before I responded, just three seconds of thinking time made my answers a lot more logical and coherent. Also, having previous experience in childcare made it easier to answer some of the questions as I could link the answers to experience I had.

After the interview I felt relieved knowing I had done my best, but also apprehensive about whether I had done enough to earn myself a place. Now the wait began. I endlessly checked my emails to see if I had received one from UCAS and was always disappointed if it was junk mail or news from another University. About three weeks later I was at my college in Truro and I noticed I had an email from UCAS saying one of my offers had changed. All sorts of thoughts ran through my head! I was so nervous I couldn’t even open the email myself so I got my friend to do it for me. When she opened it there was a pause that felt like forever, and then she said “I think you’ve got in!” That moment was one I will never forget. My form tutor (who I was also with) was so happy for me and I couldn’t stop myself from literally jumping out of my chair for joy!

Ready for my first day
When I had received my offer, I was given the opportunity to join a group chat with other Norland applicants who had offers. This group really helped us form a sense of community before we started on our first day.  It enabled us to get to know each other and we could discuss things we were nervous or unsure about. We also arranged small gatherings around the country so that we could meet each other in person. The group chat and meet-ups made me feel more reassured about starting Norland as I knew that other people felt the same way I did, and I knew there would be some familiar, friendly faces on the first day.

As soon as I had received my grades and my place had been confirmed, preparation began! My uniform was ordered, books were bought and my sewing kit was put together. When trying on my uniform for the first time I felt so proud of what I had achieved and how I’d finally reached the goal I had been aiming for. 

Overall, the build-up and application to Norland was an exciting experience and prepared me for starting at Norland. From that initial discovery watching the documentary, to the Open Day, to receiving my offer, I knew that I wanted to be at Norland and I’m thrilled to have had this unique experience offered to me!

Abi Kohen began at Norland in September 2016. Applications for entry are open via UCAS until 15 January 2017. Visit our website for information on how you can apply to Norland College.

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