What happens when you don’t get the A-level results you wanted and needed? While it can be a shock, it does happen. Guest author Dr Helen is here to tell us her university clearing story…
I remember my Mum telling me that ’things work out for the best’; it was the day after I’d received my A-Level results when I found out that I hadn’t got the results that I was expecting or needed. Those were not the reassuring words I wanted right then.
University plans gone pear-shaped
Originally my plans were all set out. I was going to go to the University of Birmingham to study Psychology for three years. Afterwards I would apply for a doctorate course and become a qualified psychologist.
But the problem was that I didn’t get the results I wanted, which meant that I couldn’t go to Birmingham. Birmingham had been my first choice and my lowest offer. I therefore didn’t have an insurance option.
To say I was devastated is an understatement. Thinking back to it now I still feel the dread and worry of not knowing what I was going to do. I rang my parents to tell them the bad news.
Wild thoughts ran through my mind. Was I going to give up on my dream, not go to uni and instead get a job? Could I defer a year and go travelling? What about resitting the year? – this wasn’t an attractive option, as it meant being in 6th form with my younger brother.
I then thought – what about going through clearing?
I was put on a computer at school to start the ‘clearing’ process and made a number of phone calls; the universities ready with information at the other end.
It’s quite a weird experience having to build new plans in an instant, but I had the support of my family, teachers and friends.
I knew I wanted to study psychology – the question was where, and what was the best course?
I narrowed down the different options looking at the universities that offered psychology and that would accept me with my grades.
Two days later I’d visited three universities and got an offer from the University of Hull. The course looked good, the facilities great and while it wasn’t what I’d set my heart on at Birmingham, I knew I’d enjoy it.
Things do work out for the best
I spent three brilliant years at Hull thanks to university clearing. I made lifelong friends and after I graduated I got a place at Birmingham University to do my doctorate in psychology in the area of my choice.
I’m now a qualified psychologist, in my dream job. In the end I got to where I wanted to be – it wasn’t easy, and not getting the A-Level grades I was expecting was a set-back, but as it turned out, not the end of the world.
Maybe Mum was right all along: things do work out for the best.
My top tips for university clearing would be:
- Stay calm: easy for anyone to say, but your mind will run faster and make up ridiculous scenarios that will never happen – trust me I’m a psychologist. Take a breath, sit down and have a think about what you really want.
- Keep your options open: be open to different ideas and different places. There’s no way I’d thought I’d end up at Hull when I first started applying for uni, but I did and I don’t regret it.
- Find facts and information: Going to uni is one of the biggest decisions that you’ll make. Everyone needs help and information to make big decisions, so go and find it. Look online, talk to others who have been through similar process, and of course use Which? University to find out about different course and universities.
- Have an amazing time: Whatever decision you make, it will be the best decision for you. Uni is great fun and no matter where you go, or what you do it’ll be an experience where you’ll make new friends that shape the rest of your life.
This is a guest post by Dr Helen. Helen is a practicing Psychologist and wishes to remain anonymous. All views expressed here are Helen’s own and not necessarily those shared by Which?.