In case you hadn't heard, today is A-Level results day.
Up and down the country, scared 18-year-olds will be rocking up at their school and opening an envelope which they believe will determine their future.
Well, it will in some ways- but what I wanted to say today is that if you are going to be opening one of these envelopes, and the results don't turn out to be what you'd want them to be? It really will be ok. I know it feels like the end of the world, and like everything you've ever planned for is crashing around your ears, but it really really isn't.
If you are in this situation, I have a few pieces of advice for you, and a little story. If you aren't in this situation, well, you might find it interesting anyway.
SO. If you have just opened your results letter, and you haven't got what you wanted, I would advise the following:
1. Phone your first choice immediately. They may have other courses they can offer you, or other alternatives. Think about these carefully.
2. Think very very carefully about accepting your insurance offer. I accepted mine and wish that I hadn't. I'd actually advise not putting an insurance unless you are absolutely certain you want to go there just as much as you want to go to your first choice.
3. Do not panic. You can go through clearing if you want. Or you can take a year out to get some experience and reapply. Seriously- you are 18. You have the rest of your life to go to university and work out what to do with your life. IT WILL BE OK.
4. This happens to FAR more people than you'd think. Seriously. Keep reading.
|Not all universities look like this. From here|
Five years ago (OH. MY. GOD) I was one of these people. I opened my results letter, and found that rather than the three As I needed to get into my first choice of university, I had gained an A, two Bs and a Merit in the Advanced Extension Award in History. I instantly phoned my first choice of institution, who were absolutely fantastic- they talked me through their decision not to accept me, but also offered me a place at their other campus, which I refused. So they released me to go to my insurance, where all hell broke loose, and I ended up dropping out six weeks into the term.
When I got home, I found that about 10 people that I knew pretty well from my (admittedly large) year group from school had also either not got in to their first choice of institution, or had got to university and dropped out a few weeks in. It is incredibly common- you just tend not to hear about it. People only say when they're having an amazing time- you do not hear about the girl who cried every day for the first month of university, or the boy who had to go to his insurance because he missed a grade, or the person who actually ended up hating the course they've dreamt of doing their whole life.
A week after I returned from that insurance institution, I was applying to university all over again. This time with my results in hand, I knew where I was likely to get in, and only applied to those places. In the end, I accepted a place at Cardiff University, where I met some of the best people I've ever met, including someone who had ended up being one of my closest friends. This person had applied to the same institution that I had the previous year and had also missed his results by a grade or two. He'd also refused their offer to go to their other campus. And he'd also ended up at Cardiff a year later. (We still find this weird).
And now, I know someone who is works in university admissions who missed both of their first and insurance choices. She went to somewhere completely different through clearing and maintains that it's the best thing that ever happened to her.
So yes. At the end of this rambly post I will wrap up with this. University is great, and if you've got your grades, or are happy with your choice of institution, huge congratulations. It is not, however, the be-all and end-all. You can apply next year. You can not go at all. You can go and drop out.
But whatever happens, I promise that it's all going to be OK.