“I did computing, economics and history for my A-levels and was lucky enough to get an unconditional offer from Birmingham to study ancient history. That meant I could get any grades in my A-levels and still have a place to study there – but the condition was that I accepted them as my first choice university. So I did, and then chose Bristol University as my insurance choice even though they wanted the higher grades of AAB. It was an unusual situation and everybody seemed confused by it!
When it came to picking up my A-level results, I did better than I expected. I got A* in history, A in computing and B in economics – enough to get into Bristol. When I went into college to get my results, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do with them – if I got AAB or above, I’d go to Bristol; if I got less, I’d go to Birmingham, and I was happy with either scenario.
But then, when I got my grades, they opened up a world of possibilities in my mind. I started thinking about all the things I might be able to do. Having had such clarity, I suddenly didn’t know what to do or even what degree to study. I think the stress got me all muddled up even though, in advance, it had all seemed set in stone.
My parents were baffled by my reaction, but also very excited for me because I’d done so well. I disappeared into my bedroom to think about what I wanted to do. Then I started calling up various universities, seeing what my options might be. I rang family and friends, too, asking for advice. But I think what sealed the deal was just thinking carefully about each course. I wanted it to be my decision. I didn’t want too many voices confusing me.
One thing I would say is that people don’t generally think carefully enough about course content. When you look at each specific course and at what the university offers, the best one for you instantly becomes more obvious.
I wish someone had told me to look at the specific department I was thinking about going into, to look at the modules they teach; to visit the city. Those are the important things – I think people put too much importance on the university rankings, which won’t help you see yourself somewhere or know if it’s right for you.
My advice would be to speak to people doing the course before you make a decision. They’ll be able to tell you what it’s really like.
For me, the course at Bristol seemed the best match. It also appealed most as somewhere I’d like to live for three years or more as I have some family there. I liked that it’s quite far away from my home in St Helens, too, because I wanted to move about a bit, but still be somewhere familiar.
I was then in the strange position of turning down my first choice university, calling Bristol and getting in through Adjustment. It wasn’t a long process, though – once I put in the calls, it was all done in a matter of minutes.
Once I’d declined Birmingham as my first offer, it automatically transferred to Bristol. But I think I did have to break away from the ‘firm offer to insurance offer’ process and reapply through Adjustment. That only took a few minutes, but it was a scary few minutes, because you realise you’ve just declined both your offers and are waiting on the phone for them to get back to you.
I know Adjustment sounds like an exciting opportunity – and it really is – but it’s also a confusing time. A lot of my friends went through the Ucas process, knew what they were doing, got their results, went to the pub to celebrate and everything was great, with no surprises.
In some ways, I should have been one of them, because I did better than I thought I would. I should have been buying the first round! But I wanted to take a bit of time to make the best decision for me, and I wanted to get the most out of my grades. I had found choosing my degree course and unis quite difficult in the first place, so having my options thrown open again was odd.
I am happy now, though. Overall, I know I made the right decision.”Reuse content