Another year’s results day has been and gone. Months of anxious worrying have come to an end with the arrival of a UCAS notification. It’s got me thinking back to my own results day which, although was two years ago now, remains as fresh in my mind as ever.
I woke up early without an alarm. I logged onto UCAS and read: “Congratulations on your confirmed place at University of Birmingham.” Birmingham: my insurance university. Not my first choice. Not Cambridge. I told my Mum with tears on my face. At school, I then had the task of opening up my envelope to see what I already knew: it was not enough. I questioned all the hard work I’d put in, labouring over exams. I questioned the exams, the system: how could I have done so much, tried so hard, and yet still not have done enough? My teachers hugged me, my friends hugged me, my family hugged me. I got a lot of hugs that day. But it didn’t replace the absence of a certain letter on my examination report.
So it seemed Birmingham was meant to be. “Everything happens for a reason Sophie.” I told myself. And so I went out on the night of results day, a celebratory night, and I celebrated.
Following that, I began organising the my soon-to-be life in Birmingham. “Sorry, there is no university accommodation left. There is no guarantee if you have chosen the university as your insurance choice. You will have to find privately owned accommodation.” the woman told me on the phone. So, no student halls: no real university experience it seemed. I had no choice but to ring up an estate agent and grab the first room I could find in a student house. I may not have seen the house, I may not have known the people who I’d be living with, but hey, at this point, at least I had a roof and a toilet.
The day arrived that I was to move to Birmingham. University was finally here! Although things hadn’t worked out how I expected, I was still excited – this was a new chapter! In the meantime, I’d decided to put in some remarks of my exam papers. I knew Cambridge was a lost dream at this point, but I wanted the peace of mind. As I was driving into Birmingham, with my car loaded up, I got a phone call. My head of Sixth Form was ringing to inform me that one of my History papers had gone up by a remarkable 10 marks. My school had been in touch with Cambridge, who were going to reconsider my place at the university. Shock, anger, gratitude, and above all, hope. Maybe, just maybe, my dream wasn’t over. But, I couldn’t think like that. I had to be realistic. It was unlikely that the situation was going to change. So, I went to my new (horribly run down) student house. I unpacked my things, and I began my new life.
I guess you can see where this story is going now… It was four days later that I got the phone call. Cambridge wanted to give me an offer. It was too late for them to give me one for the current year, but they wanted to offer me a place for the following year. Of course, without a second thought, I said yes. But I felt a mixture of emotions. I’d started to make friends in Birmingham, I’d started to find my feet. I now had an unplanned gap year. I had to pack up all my things again. I had to move back home. I had to pay money to get out of the privately owned house I was in. It was a lot. Of course I was elated: I’d got my place. But I also had the present to deal with.
My gap year ended up being one of the best years of my life. I was lucky enough to work at my old school for a year, working with a wide variety of children. I learnt things about the education system, the care system, and most of all, about myself. My results day, and the period after it, is a strange time to look back on. I think we can all agree, that for a young person, the weight of results day is unimaginably heavy. Despite the fact I’m at Cambridge now, I still had to go through the devastating experience of not getting into my first choice university. But, I’ve learnt that knock backs in life really do make you stronger and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if things had gone otherwise. If results day didn’t go your way, or things take weird turns for you in the future, then take my word, things have a way of falling into place in the end, even if it’s not how you first expected.