You rub your sweaty palms on favourite jumper. Your trembling hands adjust your lucky jeans as you make sure you look as cool and collected as you possibly can in front of your mates. You all glance at each other, only from the side of your eye as you are afraid full-on eye contact may give them an insight into the crippling thoughts of possible and eternal failure that have now flooded your mind. Finally, you reach the gates. You and your friends, without realising, separate into your different tables. You are not aware of anything anymore. Not the thumbs up from the teachers; not the ringing phone in your pocket (your mum making sure her life plans for her child are still on track); not even the other students either crying tears of joy or…. the other thing. All you can now think of are all the prayers you prayed, tears you shed and lucky rituals you’ve performed to reach this moment. They hand over the envelope with your passport name written boldly across the front. The accumulation of the last two, maybe even three years of your life. And the results say….
Well I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter what they say! I know; ‘get that looney tune out of here, she doesn’t know what she’s saying’ right? But no, speaking as someone who has had my share of ups and downs when it comes to results day, I’m telling you, they are not the be all and end all of your life. Ok, so you may think I’m this Zen uni student who’s past all that and doesn’t remember the stress of applying to uni huh? Well that’s not completely accurate. My story is a little stranger than most, and as much as I try to keep my life stories to a minimum, I thought it maybe useful or encouraging or at least a little chuckle-worthy to hear what happened to me.
I was an up-and-coming bright star in year 13, full of potential and big dreams. I was still riding off the wave of my AS level results and applied to some household name unis, in hopes that they’d think me worthy. I eventually got an offer for the course I chose, Natural Sciences. Having done fairly well in most of my past exams, I had no serious doubts about whether I’d achieve these grades. My best friend applied to a uni a few minutes away from mine so I was more praying for him to get in more than I was pleading for myself. So it came as a real shock when I opened my A-level results envelope and found I fell seriously short of the grades I was meant to get and didn’t even get into my insurance. The only other option was a word so foreign to me, I honestly never thought I’d hear it… Clearing.
I was now faced with scouring the UCAS Clearing list for a course similar to mine (Natural Sciences wasn’t offered on this list) and also having to re-evaluate what to do with my life. Don’t get it twisted, God has a sense of humour. The one time I didn’t get the results I wanted was the one time that that meant completely having to re-route my life goals. As you can imagine, I was not amused.
So after days of endless calling of unis and refreshing clearing lists and restructuring my summer (and crying into my pillow), I finally decided to sit down and actually think about which course I would genuinely like to invest the next few years of my life in. Or more importantly, what did God have in mind for me? Long story short, I ended up applying to medicine, re-sitting my A-levels and sitting the UKCAT in 2 weeks. It was a long shot and it meant taking a gap-year (a curse word in most minority households, mine being no different), but I have to say, it was the best decision I have ever made. And it started from the biggest failure.
I guess I could go on and recount stories of unexpected results, like my sister who only got a law offer from Nottingham on results day after being rejected from all 5 of her uni choices or my friend who got into nursing at Manchester through UCAS extra after applying to and being rejected from lower unis but I guess what I’m trying to say is ‘Don’t give up hope’. I never have and never will agree with the fact that our education system demands 17/18 yr olds to decide on their future at an age where they’re still finding themselves, nor with the pressure society/the government put on one examination method that doesn’t always work for everybody but nonetheless, God is still in control. What you got today might not be what you were expecting, it might be even more, but if you remember one thing from this post, remember this:
A) You are NOT a grade on a sheet of paper. It does not determine your intelligence, abilities, or potential
2) Your A-level results are not the end of the world. You make your destiny, no matter what your school says.
III) Don’t dismiss gap years so quickly. Its SOO much better to take time, step back and think about what you want to do for the rest of your life instead of making rash decisions out of fear or wanting to follow your friends.
Yes, A-levels are hard and they determine what uni you go to which can affect career prospects and job salaries and blah blah blah, but you and only you determine how far you go in your life. You never know who you might meet or what you might begin in another uni. Don’t give up. Deal with the cards you are dealt. It all depends on you!
A grateful med student.