Words by Alex Williams
For most, results day is a time for celebration, but for some there’s a huge sinking feeling when you open that webpage (or envelope if you’re being extra) and don’t see the grades you hoped to. The customary reaction is to gently meltdown and wonder how on earth you’re going to go on existing as all preconceived notions of your future crumble before you, but honestly, don’t panic. You have so many options.
The first step is to accept that you haven’t got the grades you wanted. Life is not Hogwarts and Dumbledore isn’t going to change your results at the last moment because Neville stood up to his friends. Once you’ve come to that realisation, take a deep breath and centre yourself because you have some things to figure out.
Consider reapplying to the same course through clearing. Clearing and adjustment is the academic equivalent of the end of a night out. Universities came out searching for a Mila Kunis 10/10, but unfortunately haven’t managed to find anyone of that standard. Wonderwall has started playing and the kebab van is calling, so their standards drop a little. If your grades were close but not quite there then there is absolutely no harm in reapplying to the course you missed out on. Just be advised that if it is a very popular course then you’re going to have to be quick to hotline bling them on results day.
Your second option is to choose a different course or a different university. If you had your heart set on a particular university, your best friend is going there or the campus boasts five Starbucks, then you may still be able attend. Have a look at their website and you’ll be able to see if any of the other courses interest you and if they align with the kind of grades you got. If there is something that really appeals to you and you’re around the ballpark for the UCAS points, then just phone up their clearing line on results day and give it a go.
Similarly if there’s a particular subject that you’re intent on studying then there is more than likely another university that offers the same course with differing grade boundaries. In fact you might even be able to make a lateral move to a course with the same grade boundaries if it isn’t full, it’s all a case by case kind of thing. Just make sure that the city or town that the university is in is a place that appeals to you. You might be studying the ancestral impacts of The Targaryens, but if the campus is dreadful and in the middle of nowhere you may find yourself feeling pretty homesick.
There is of course, the off chance that you completely fluffed it. It happens to the best of people and it’s nothing to be drenched in shame about. There is the option to re-do the second year of A-levels. If you really have your sights set on a particular level of education then having another crack at it is a perfectly rational thing to do. It may seem embarrassing to be ‘held back a year’ but honestly having that extra year of life under your belt can mature you, and put you in an advantageous position when you eventually attend university.
Finally, if it was a complete horror show and the thought of resits makes you feel ill, you don’t have to go to university. Don’t push yourself into it just because it’s the ‘done thing’ in your family or friendship group. There are a multitude of pathways you can take, your life is in your hands now and maybe getting a job, or going travelling is a better choice for you at the moment. It really is up to you.
Not getting the grades you wanted can feel dreadful. If you roll with punches then you can make something good of an imperfect situation. Figure out your plan of action, get on the phones if you’re going through clearing, bag yourself a nice little spot on an interesting course then go out and celebrate. After all, it is results day.
For anyone looking to go through clearing with Brunel University: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/clearing-and-adjustment