Guy's alternative: HND in publishing

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The Independent Online
Guy Parkinson, 23, Gloucestershire.

A-level: Communication Studies (E); Advanced GNVQ Business (Merit).

Initial plan: Media Studies degree.

Now: HND in publishing and information management, Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology.

"When I was applying to universities, quite a few didn't know what GNVQ was. They kept wanting to know how it equated with A-level. One of them gave me an offer in A-level points. My A-level tutor rang up and explained things to them, but it was a bit of a battle, and they ended up asking me to get two distinctions, which is very high.

"I would ring up admissions tutors and they would ask what the course contained and why I was applying for media studies courses when more than half the GNVQ was business.

I got the feeling I wasn't being taken very seriously, even though nobody said that.

"Doing the GNVQ was a bit chaotic, because it was the pilot year, but it was very good and I would do it again. I didn't do very well in my GCSEs; I did a year in the sixth form to retake them and didn't do much better, so I went out and did YTS and worked as an office junior for three years. I went back to college because I was applying for jobs and not getting anywhere.

"I wanted to go into journalism or video, so I applied mostly to journalism and media courses. When I've finished the HND, which takes two years, I'm still hoping to convert it into a media degree.

"I got an offer from Luton, but I needed a C in the A-level as well as a `merit' in the GNVQ. I phoned them up when I got my grades to see if there was any chance, and outright they said no. So then I tried ringing round in clearing, though I'd already been offered the HND place, so I wasn't too bothered.

"It was like starting again: phoning up and explaining about GNVQ, and they would say, "What's that?'' I was told by my tutors to try to match up what I did in GNVQ with what I was applying for.

"So if it was a modular course, I would say I was used to working like that.

"But it didn't really work. They were really more interested in good A-level grades."