Carys writes about how her A-level results day didn't go as she wanted it to, and gives advice for anyone else finding themselves in a similar position.
My A-level results day 3 years ago was a terrible day. Well, it was for 18-year-old me back then. In school I based all my self-worth on my exam results, I worked so hard I made myself really unwell, and I still didn't get the grades I wanted (to begin with). 3 years on, here I am writing about my story of results day 2015, and the events leading up to it.
I got my Durham offer (AAA) in February 2015, and a place at St. Mary's College. I worked super hard: I took Chemistry, French and Spanish A-level. I was struggling with Spanish, and I was right on the grade boundary of A/B. Results day came around, and I got a B. I didn't get into Durham University.
In the end I did get my place at Durham University, but I really had to fight for it. Here is the story:
My school made it that you had to go into school to collect your results by hand at 9am. UCAS changes at 8am. My UCAS didn't change. I was getting messages from my friends saying they got into their first choice unis, going on social media and seeing others posting their UCAS screenshots and there I was, 8 o'clock in the morning and getting myself into a right tizzy because I "failed". But Durham hadn't rejected me yet.
First, phone your academic department, don't email! I got to school and there it was: B in Spanish. I was so devastated. I had to go and sit in our careers department crying my eyes out along with the other people who found themselves unlucky that day. I was in a lot of distress as we sat in the office and rang Durham continuously and they said all I could do was wait. They hadn't rejected me yet because I had only just missed my offer, so I was still being considered. But my B was in a language A-level and I applied to study languages. My A in French suddenly seemed worthless to them. I didn't even want to study Spanish at university.
Second, get that re-mark! The saviour was my Spanish teacher. She suggested a re-mark. I've had re-marks in the past, and for me they'd never been beneficial. They never change by much, and I was 3 marks off that A grade boundary. It cost a lot of money. I told Durham I was waiting for a re-mark and to hold my place open until the result. They rejected me before I got my new results, but when I got them I saw that I had gone up 11 marks. I had got that A so easily, I'd gone past the boundary by a good 8 marks. I rang Durham with the news, but they still wouldn't accept me. They had filled all the places.
Third, always speak up if you believe you're being treated unfairly! This is where the arguments began. My Durham offer was AAA and I had got AAA but I was still rejected. That isn't how the deal works. It was no fault of mine that my results weren't as they should have been on results day. I couldn't go to the university I wanted, not because I didn't work hard enough, but because some stranger marked my exam incorrectly. I got people involved. Having good relationships with teachers was so useful in getting me my place at university. My ex-headteacher and my head of sixth form rallied round to get me the place I deserved. Magically a place appeared for me at Durham University, but at University College instead. College is just where you live and socialise: it didn't affect the academic side of my degree.
Since results day 2015 I have learned a lot more about my self-worth and academic success. Here are some tips:
• They really do not matter! I know people used to say this all the time to me and I was like "yeah what a load of rubbish" but I can promise you it is true! Your results will not matter in 5 years’ time.
• There is always a way! A-levels are not the only way to get into university, and they also will not limit you to achieving your goals for the future. I've found employers prefer my experience to my A-level results. As long as you have the passion and motivation, you will achieve what you want.
• You can always leave! Remember that university isn't for everyone, and if you want to leave or take a year out, the only thing stopping you is anxiety.
• You won't know what you're missing! Most universities all have the same societies anyway which is how you'll meet friends. You will make friends at any university you attend.
• Remember it's all just an advert! Every prospectus, web-page and open day you attended before choosing your university is just an advert, and you fell for it! Good advertising doesn't always mean that the academic quality is excellent, just the marketing team.
• Life is too short! Seriously, there is more to life than studying, so get out there and live doing what you love because you never know when your time's up! Get living and fall in love with life again!
I'm Carys, a 4th year student at Durham University. I am passionate about student mental health and using my story and experience to help others. I am one of the editors for the student minds blog, I am actively involved with Durham's branch of Student Minds, Time to Change and run my own blog too. Please get in touch if you have any questions!