When I was in Year 13 the idea of going to university was both exciting but also nerve-wracking. It was like starting school all over again, but this time, you’re an adult. I had submitted my UCAS application and received all my offers back and chose two universities, one for my first choice, and one for my insurance. I was conscious however about making sure I had kept all my options open, and if I did not receive the grades I needed, there were other universities I could go to.
Results day came around and unfortunately, I did not do as well as I had hoped. I felt so upset with myself and felt I had let myself, family and teachers down. However, despite how I felt I had to pull myself together and work out what I was going to do. I had made a list of different universities which I could go through clearing to possibly attend. There was one university on the list, City, University of London which I kept going back to. I called their clearing line, and to be honest, I was so nervous the whole conversation is a bit of a blur to me now! Anyway, I got in! Although still upset about my results, I had a more positive outlook on my future and felt proud of myself that I was going to university.
I feel sometimes there is a certain stigma around going through clearing, and I was worried when I started university to tell people I had gone through clearing to get my place. However, in an article written by the Guardian in 2019, they stated that “last year a record 17,520 students applied through clearing instead of using the normal process- an 18% increase in 2016.” The article highlighted that a large number of students went through clearing, a lot more than I realised and that it was a brilliant process giving the opportunity for many students to attend higher education. When I started university, I couldn’t believe the number of other people who had gone through clearing, and it showed me that you shouldn’t be worried about how you achieved your place, you should be proud of yourself for going to university! Additionally, the article also brought to light that many students were actually choosing to go to university through clearing rather than using it as a fall-back option.
Due to going through clearing the only accommodation I would’ve been able to get near my university was private, which was extremely expensive. Therefore, I decided I would stay at home, only living 25 minutes away from London it seemed like the perfect compromise, being able to save money but going to London whenever I wanted. My first week of university was a buzz of different people, different events, freshers’ fairs, nights out, meeting my lecturers and all the people on my course. The week was fantastic, and within that time I felt like I had made the right decision and I was at the right university for me. Despite not living in halls, I made good friends with people on my course and was still able to do all the things typical students who live in accommodation do!
Fast forward to now, and I am currently in my 3rd year graduating in only a few months! The last year has been all online learning due to the pandemic. Although I understand why online learning had to take place I am sad to have had to miss out on spending my last year of university with my friends and do all the fun things we had planned. Online learning has definitely posed its own set of challenges, but I feel City adapted to the transition very well. My three years of university have been amazing, and despite not having a ‘typical’ experience I am so grateful for all the friends I have made and everything I have learnt. I believe after my university experience that everything does happen for a reason, as I couldn’t imagine now going to a different university.
Although everyone thinks university has to include you living in halls, or going to your first choice it doesn’t, everyone is different! If you don’t get the grades you were expecting don’t be so hard on yourself, although I know it is hard, but things will fall into place and you will find the right path for you. Finally, enjoy your time at university and take every opportunity you can as you don’t realise how fast those years actually go!