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Top Undergraduate Business Graduate 2016 – Matt Clifton Interview

Matt Clifton and Head of Undergraduate Business, Katy Lever

Matt Clifton and Head of Undergraduate Business, Katy Lever

Here at University of Essex Online we always look forward to graduation day as it’s our chance to meet our students and present our annual awards and prizes. And this year was no exception; a number of our students won awards, including the person we’re interviewing today – Matt Clifton. Matt recently completed his studies with the joint-highest overall average grade in his programme and is one of our two Top Undergraduate Business Graduate 2016 prize-winners. Read on to discover more about Matt’s inspirational study journey…

What is your education background?

Before starting the University of Essex, I had already studied both a first and national extended diploma (BTEC) in Business Studies. Along with this, I had studied a CMI junior management qualification. After my four years at college, it became largely known to me that I wanted a career in business, so I decided to apply for the Business Management BA.


Why did you decide to start studying?

I had a large interest in business, and after finishing college I wanted to pursue studying a degree. This is one of the reasons why I started.


Why did you choose online study specifically, rather than just studying on a campus?

Largely down to time commitments. At the time of starting the BA, I was 18 years old, and in my last year of college. It would have been really tough to access a campus-based university over an online study option. I have taken on an LLB on campus now, so this was another commitment I had too. If I did attend the campus for four years, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have today, especially studying another degree and college at the same time! My overall intention is to enter business law, combining both of my degrees.


Why did you choose the University of Essex Online?

I remember getting a referral to the University, in an email, and I was interested to find out more. I contacted the admissions advisers who informed me about the course, told me it would fit into a busy lifestyle, and that it was all online- this was fantastic! It allowed me to work in the comfort of my home, and new university, whilst managing other daily tasks, and studies too. Another reason was the fantastic student satisfaction rate; this was definitely encouraging and made me choose this university, over others.


Why did you choose your course?

Before I started the course, I thought that the modules looked rather interesting! There were over 21 modules- and each of these offered choice, applicability and encouraged my interest. I wanted a course that tested me, and allowed me to apply my past work-experience and studies to the Business Management Degree, as well as using my academics to further support future studies, and a future career at the same time.


What did you enjoy about the course?

I found that the course offered a great deal of information, passionate tutors with a wealth of experience, along with learning with other students- which has allowed me to make friends along the way of studying online. This, in itself, has offered a large support through knowing that you do know other students, and can work together to achieve the required outcomes.
I particularly enjoyed developing knowledge of new subject areas, such as business planning, global business environments and financial decision making- all of these provided much enjoyment and interest.


Have you had to overcome any personal or professional obstacles in order to complete your studies?

As I study full-time, it has been particularly challenging doing a law degree at the same time, however with careful time-management, and the intake dates, I have found that my studies have worked well together. I did, to begin with, doubt my own abilities to complete the BA degree on the first year, however after finishing now and achieving a first classification degree, and the ‘Top Undergraduate Business Graduate 2016’ award I am pleased I stayed, and overcome my initial anxiety.
I also have had chance to work in between my studies, and build a support website which has really fitted in with studying.


Have you considered continuing your studies further?

Having now finished my four-year time with the university, I will be looking to focus on my LLB Law degree; however I would definitely be open to returning to the University of Essex, and perhaps studying a Master’s degree. And of course, I will need to achieve the law training year eventually, too.


Please tell us about your experience at graduation day.

Wow! Where do I begin? Graduation for me can be described in one word – AMAZING! The day began with lots of introductions from fellow students, friends and staff members, which was nice. Then, the campus got busy with hundreds of other graduates- the atmosphere was incredible, like nothing I have ever experienced before. Everybody was so happy, friendly and welcoming, something that makes the day even more rewarding.
As I sat waiting, with fellow students, for my name to be called out and collecting my degree from the vice-chancellor, I was getting more and more excited and my smile was the biggest it had been in many days. I loved every minute of the ceremony, from the atmosphere to getting my award- it was all so fantastic.
Then, to top it all, after the graduation we had many photos, and I was presented the top undergraduate award in 2016, which was out-of-this-world. I REALLY cannot believe it, but this really rewarded my hard work, over the many years. I wish that the day lasted longer!


What does winning the Top Undergraduate Business Graduate 2016 award mean to you?

Winning the award means a great deal to me; not only does it show that I made the right decision in studying and choosing to continue studying with the University of Essex, it also shows that my hard work, commitment, and time-management to studying was successful. Along with this, it also has shown that my business knowledge and acumen have significantly developed, strengths and weaknesses improved, and my confidence in my own abilities has really improved. So, overall, this award shows me that I made a great life-choice, and maximised every opportunity I had, within my studies.


Do you have any advice or tips you would like to pass on to our current and future students?

From a graduate’s experience (wow, it sure sounds surreal to say that now) I would 100% recommend starting your work before the deadline quickly approaches. One of the best ways I did this was through managing my time. I know we all have different commitments in life, but with forward planning and managing your time; you will definitely have more time to spend working on your assignments. Oh, and it is probably best to make sure that you do not exceed the word-counts too – a big tip there!
Further tips I have, is enjoy the course. If you enjoy the course, the course will reward you significantly. I questioned almost everything about my course, especially the modules. If there is something that you are unsure about- ask your tutor, or fellow class-students! It is a great way to build relationships and knowledge at the same time, whilst supporting your degrees.
And, one final piece of advice, make sure that you make the most out of your time studying- it definitely can go quick! Best of luck all! ☺


On behalf of everyone at University of Essex Online, we’d like to offer our congratulations to Matt again!