Hey there, I’ve done my fair share of call centre work but this is my first time posting here. For some background, I recently started a new job at a university in the UK taking their clearing applications. This is where people haven’t applied to university or haven’t got the grades they expected, so they’re looking for courses that still have places.
Now I’ve given the boring background info, let’s get into the story. This conversation is between me and a crazy applicant, let’s call her Brenda. She’s a mature student and wants to study a Screenwriting degree. So far, so normal. She has outdated qualifications but we still accept them so that’s no problem. However, when I input her data she doesn’t meet the minimum number of UCAS points (a points system for entry onto uni courses) for that degree. Here’s where the fun begins…
Me: Unfortunately you don’t meet the entry requirements for that course. It requires a minimum of 80 UCAS points and you currently have only 48. The Screenwriting degree doesn’t offer a foundation year to get you up to first year level, but perhaps you might want to consider the Film Production course, which does offer a foundation? If you applied for that your 48 UCAS points would be enough.
Brenda: Can you check with a manager? I’m 42, I have experience in the world. More than these 18-year-olds coming to uni, that should count! They’ve just left school! I don’t want to do an extra year of study.
Me: I’m really sorry, but the academic requirements are set by the university to make sure that everyone who is on the course has the best chance of succeeding. If you wanted to go straight onto the Screenwriting degree, you would have to do an Access to HE Diploma which would give you the UCAS points, but that would also mean an additional year of study.
Brenda: But I know the film industry.
Me: Like I say, it’s set up so that the university knows you have the necessary academic experience to do well on the course. Either the Access course or the Foundation year on Film Production would give you—
Brenda: I’M 42, I’VE PUT 3 KIDS THROUGH THEATRE SCHOOL. THAT SHOULD COUNT. MY HUSBAND GOT INTO UNI TO STUDY LAW AS A MATURE STUDENT, AND HE’S NOW A SOLICITOR.
At this point I’m thinking “Did….did she just threaten me with legal action? From her husband?” I can’t remember exactly how I managed to get her off the phone because I was trying not to laugh. You’d think that would be the end of her. YOU THOUGHT WRONG. A couple of hours later the colleague sitting next to me got a phone call, and I just heard “I’m really sorry but you don’t meet the entry requirements for the screenwriting course…”. Now I’m nosy so I peeked over and saw BRENDA’S APPLICATION. This time round a manager had to be called in because it was only my poor colleague’s first day, and it sounded like Brenda was ripping her a new one.
My colleague eventually got off the phone, and told me that Brenda had started the call with “I just spoke to your coworker and he was incredibly dismissive and didn’t listen to me at all. I’m 42, I should be considered!” Shock, horror – my coworker didn’t let her into university either.
TL;DR: Unqualified woman rings up to get on a university degree, I tell her no, she proceeds to tell me how we should bend the rules for her because she “knows the film industry” (i.e. is a pushy parent). Then rings back and tells a colleague sitting right next to me that I’m rude and dismissive.
Anyway, now I’ve typed this out it’s not nearly as funny as it was at the time. But I hope you enjoyed this tale about how I didn’t let an absolute arsehole of a woman into university!