Personally, I like to try and forget college and A levels. Which works most of time, unless I meet up with an old friend or randomly remember something with my boyfriend…or A level results day comes around.
Every year social media is FLOODED with results day and for someone who was pretty devastated with their results, it sucks to be reminded. I felt awful about my results, they were not what I expected at all. I’m not great with exams, I get super super nervous and revise a crazy amount until my mental health has all but deteriorated.
It seems that no matter how hard I revise I can’t get the grades I think I deserve, the system just isn’t made for people like me. It made me feel so bad about myself for ages, but actually, when I step back and look at it, most of my friends were very upset about their results too. Lots of them had no idea where their life would take them and were rushed into decisions of clearing or deciding Uni just wasn’t going to be for them. I actually did really well in my GCSE’s, which was amazing for me, I was incredibly proud of myself. However, I think looking back on how proud I was, just made me even more upset with my A level results. I thought I could have better because of them, but looking back now I know that was stupid, A levels are MUCH more difficult. I had to learn to be proud of both.
I opted for a gap year. I knew I wanted a gap year anyway, at the time I thought it would be the only way to spend more time with my boyfriend before going to Uni in Manchester, which is where I thought I was going at the time. My parents however, were not keen on this idea. When I got my results they were on holiday, which I had missed out on just for results day, another reason it sucks. Anyway, as soon as I got my Psychology result (C) I was so frustrated I knew I couldn’t go study it the following September.
My original choice was to study Psychology and Business at Manchester Met University. I worked so hard at Psychology during college and studied really hard before my exams. I even took a resit for one of my AS levels to boost my grades up, I was so hoping for a B and truly thought I was going to get one. I thought my exams went really well and I felt super confident afterwards, but on results day I saw the C. Now a C isn’t bad, not bad at all, but I really really wanted a B after all that hard work. I’m able to see it as a blessing in disguise now though because if I did get a B, I might have gone to Manchester and been unhappy with my course choice and been halfway across the country.
I also studied Drama at college, which may be the most infuriating subject in the world. I love acting and theatre studies, I always have, in fact for most of my life I dreamed of being an actress. When I first joined college, I thought Theatre school would be the next step but the stress and frustration studying it in college turned me off. I still wonder sometimes if I could have done it and I defiantly want to get back into acting in the future. However, I had a real problem with working super hard on a really difficult piece of theatre and my performance, for it not to contribute much to my grade. I screwed up the written exam and alas, another C.
During my gap year, before travelling, I decided to give up my place at Manchester that I had deferred and look into studying Geography. My old reliable. I’ve always been good at it, got a B in my A level and I love sustainability (as you all know). Unfortunately, I was rejected from Southampton due to my results, but I chose Reading and I’m super happy at the moment.
Ultimately A levels shouldn’t matter to you, they decide your university, which is seriously outdated and unfair, but that’s really it. I actually looked into transferring to Sussex Uni recently, to be closer to my boyfriend and because my grades have been excellent during my first year, I was pretty sure it would all work out. BUT they weren’t at all interested in my grades, only my A level results. That was a tough one, having my disappointment brought back up to me after 2 years and knock down my built up confidence for my intelligence. Ultimately I realised, I don’t want to be part of anywhere that is going to judge me based on some exams I sat when I was 17, it was their loss not mine.
I hope my A level story has helped anyone feel a little bit better about their situation, you don’t think about what you’re going to do if you don’t get the grades you hope for, but I’m pretty sure more people end up disappointed than happy. That’s why the system is so sh*t. My advice would definitely be a gap year, but I know that’s not an option for a lot of people. A year away from academia really helped me clear my head and understand what I want. I found so many new interests during my travels and found my passion for sustainability. Step away from the stress in any way you can and remember that nobody else can make the decision of what you want to do in your life. That can be scary to hear but it’s all you from here so make yourself happy, there will always be ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ but you’ve got a long life ahead of you to try new things if you made a mistake. There’s no point stepping into something that doesn’t make you happy. Screw A levels, they do NOT define you!