You might be surprised to learn that not getting the A-Level grades I needed to get into my first choice of universities was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Why? Because Clearing helped me. I got my ideal university space, and I came out on the other side smiling.
I know what you’re thinking: I’m just saying that to make you feel better. I’m not!
I went through two years of college believing that my calling lay in the production of television shows such as Eastenders and Channel 4 documentaries. To get there, I was going to get a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Media Studies, and nobody was going to stop me.
Except… well, me.
I was so confident about my impending achievement that I didn’t take care to get the grades I needed. If you study hard, you do well, and if you don’t study hard… well, you don’t get the grades!
Unfortunately, I didn’t realise this until results day arrived and I was staring at my computer screen, proudly scrolling through the five choices of university that I had selected using a fine-toothed comb, and suddenly saw the message: You are in Clearing.
In a word: OMG (I guess that’s three words, but you know)
The first thing I did was drain my mug of coffee. I needed it. The second thing I did was go to college, where I picked up my results package only to have it rubbed in my face again that yes, I had failed my mission and that no, I wasn’t going to get a First Class degree with Honours in Media. At least, not from those universities…
During that summer holiday I’d been writing virtually non-stop, and writing fiction had become my borderline obsessive hobby over the past two years. I didn’t know what had triggered it, but suddenly I had more than 20,000 words of a story that I was sure – sure – could have been sold in ‘Waterstones’ one day. But that thought was stacked neatly on a shelf at the back of my mind by that point, because OMG! I didn’t get my Media Studies grades.
*Tears hair out*
So I spent the next six hours on the phone determined to get onto Media Studies, somewhere, anywhere! The majority of conversations I had went a little something like this:
Me: Hi, I was wondering if I could apply for a place at this university on your Media Studies course?
Some university or other: I’m sorry – we have no spaces left for Media Studies, you could try..
(Please excuse my bad manners, but this is usually where I hung up).
Until I spotted a little gem: Coventry University, with spaces on its Media courses, hurrah!
So naturally, the internet at home went down before I could find the phone number…
Stressing out, I figured I’d do some writing to pass the time (and to calm myself down), and the revelation I’d had about Coventry University came with another. Considering the bad luck I’d had so far, perhaps Media Studies just wasn’t my forte. Perhaps writing was. Perhaps I was supposed to graduate with a degree in English and go on to publish a novel. A long shot? Sure. Impossible? Only as impossible as I let it be. And as if by magic, the internet came back on and I scrolled up to see that there were spaces on their English course too. Hallelujah!
Okay, okay, it wasn’t all that magical. It was actually a good few hours before the internet started to work again. But when it did, I wasted no time finding the phone number for the university, and here’s how my conversation with the lovely lady on the other end of the phone went:
Me: Hi, I was wondering if I could apply for a place on your English course?
Lovely lady: You’re just in time. May I ask how many UCAS points you have?
… And the rest is history. I told the lovely lady from Admissions the grades I’d achieved, gave her the necessary information to prove that I was indeed a person, and after outlining the finer details of the course, such as how long it was, how I should go about Government funding and what I should do next, I was offered a place. A few hours later, I received a very exhale-worthy email, which read a little something like this:
Congratulations! You have successfully secured a place on the BA English (Hons) 3-year Full Time course at Coventry University…”
The moral of the story is that going into Clearing is not the end of the world. Stressful? Yes. Nerve-wracking? Oh, definitely. But the end of the world? Absolutely not. You may have your heart set on something for a long, long time, but if that something happens to change within the space of 0.393 of a second, don’t worry. It might just end up being the best thing that’s ever happened to you.