This Thursday, thousands of students up and down the country will receive their A Level results. The lead up to results day is always nerve-wracking, so, considering the fact that they're receiving results for exams that they didn't even take, this years cohort must be feeling the stress more than ever. I completed my A Levels and received some unexpected results last year, so I thought it might be helpful for me to share my experience and advice in this post.
For my A Levels, I studied English Literature, Sociology and Drama and I planned to attend the University of Sheffield to continue studying English. On results day, I was rejected from the University of Sheffield and accepted into my insurance choice instead, but to study Drama, not English. I achieved an A in Sociology, a B in Drama and a D in English.
My results were good and I got into university, but I couldn't help but see myself as a failure. After the initial shock of what had happened set in, I realised that panicking and crying would not solve this issue. I had to decide what I wanted to do. After a lot of consideration, I decided to reject my university offer and look at some English courses in clearing instead; I wasn't accepted into any of these courses. After this setback, I decided that I would resit my English A Level, with a view to reapplying for my course at Sheffield for the following academic year. I told my school that this was what I wanted to do and the plans were soon set in motion. However, 2 weeks after I obtained my results, I received an email from my English teacher, informing me that my papers had been remarked and my grade had moved from a D to a C. Following this news, I called Sheffield and asked if they'd accept me for the following year with my revised grade. The answer was no. I was disappointed to have received yet another rejection from my preferred university, but I didn't let this stop me.
I did a lot of research into English based courses and eventually found Cardiff: an amazing city with a great university. Three weeks after results day, I emailed the admissions team and was delighted to hear that they'd be willing to accept me for the following year. I then created a new UCAS application and was given an unconditional offer to study at Cardiff on the 24th October 2019 - 10 weeks after A Level results day.
My A Level results day experience was extremely stressful and hard to deal with at times, however it taught me so many invaluable lessons: Your grades don't define you. Everything happens for a reason. There is always another path to take.
It's been predicted that 40% of this years A Level results will be downgraded, and this is obviously causing even more stress among the students receiving their results in 2 days time. Based on my experience last year, here is my advice in case things don't go to plan:
1. DON'T BE AFRAID TO CALL OR EMAIL YOUR UNIVERSITY:
If you do end up receiving a UCAS rejection on results day, it is always worth calling your university to talk to them about what happened and to see if there is any space for you on related courses. You may think that this will be embarrassing or unhelpful, but you never know until you try! Considering the circumstances, the logistics behind this years results and university intake is so unknown, so your phone call could make all the difference.
2. CLEARING IS YOUR FRIEND:
Even if you're not particularly worried about your results, you should still have a look at how clearing works and save some phone numbers prior to the day. I didn't do this, but I'm sure that I would've been 10 time less stressed on the day if I had. Also, remember that so many people will be applying to universities through clearing on results day so, if you don't get the answer you were hoping for, don't give up! I emailed the staff at Cardiff three weeks after results day and look what happened!
3. FOLLOW YOUR HEART:
This sounds obvious, but make sure you're 100% happy with any offer you receive before you accept it - don't just accept something for the sake of it! When I received my insurance offer on results day, part of me wanted to accept it so that I was guaranteed a spot at university, but part of me knew I should reject it because it was for a course that I had very little interest in. I'm very pleased that I followed my heart and rejected the offer, because I would've just been studying for the sake of it if I had accepted!
4. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON:
When my results day didn't go to plan it felt like the end of the world! But, looking back I realise that it happened for a reason. If I had been accepted into Sheffield last year, I wouldn't have gone travelling, I wouldn't have found Cardiff and I wouldn't have learnt that you're defined by how you deal with life's obstacles, not by the grades that you receive.
Good luck to everyone receiving their A Level results this year. Everything will work out for you eventually!