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So, you didn’t get the grades you wanted? Don’t despair...
9:30am Wednesday 21st August 2013 in Echo News
”You become strong by defying defeat and by turning loss into gain and failure to success.” OK, history’s “great bad man” Napoleon may have said this, but you get the gist. If you fail, you don’t have to give up. As thousands of teenagers in Essex may not have secured the
A-level results they hoped for, EMMA PALMER and JAMES COX look at how there’s still hope yet...
ANYONE who didn’t make the grade with their A-levels should take note of Lauren Brown.
Three years ago she was left devastated after her results came back lower than predicted.
But after wiping away the tears, Lauren was determined to turn a minor hiccup into success and has now graduated from Essex University with a first in Philosophy and Politics.
Despite getting good grades for her four A-levels, Lauren didn’t get high enough marks to secure her place at her chosen university, Durham. She lost out by just one grade – a B that should have been an A.
Looking back now, Lauren, 20, from Billericay, says the whole thing was a complete shock.
“I was so surprised and upset, because I’d been expected to get all As. I literally opened the envelope and was in shock, then started crying,” she said.
“It was hard, because almost all of my friends got the marks they needed and I was the only one to go through clearing. But after calming down, I knew I still had good enough grades to get a place to go to university – it just wasn’t going to be the university I’d expected to go to.”
Lauren was one of the thousands of students who went through clearing, which led her to Essex – a university she’d never even contemplated previously.
She said: “I wanted to go and live somewhere away, like most students, and going to Essex, in my home county, hadn’t crossed my mind.
“But after visiting and talking to students and professors, I knew it was for me. I stayed on campus so I was still away, having the student life. “That’s the brilliant thing about Essex, as long as you get your application in before the deadline – which is August 23 this year – the university guarantees all first-year undergraduates student accommodation.”
Three years on and overjoyed with graduating with a first, Lauren is now helping others achieve their potential by working on Essex University’s Clearing and Adjustment Hotline.
She is part of the team on the other end of the phone, talking to students about their options if they did not get the grades they hoped for – or in some cases exceeded their expectations.
The good thing is Lauren knows just what a difficult time the process can be for students, as she has been there herself, but she also knows what you can achieve once you have made your choice.
She said: “I’ve had such a wonderful time at Essex, a chance that I wouldn’t have had if they hadn’t taken a chance on me by accepting me through clearing.
“I would recommend Essex to anyone who has to go through clearing.
“I have had an excellent academic experience. Both my departments – Philosophy and Politics – have been so amazing with improving my skills and employability.
Lecturers and professors are so willing to give as much help as you need to achieve your best.”
Lauren is now set to knuckle down for an MSc in Political Behaviour in October at Essex, which has campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton, and wants to go on to eventually secure a job in a parliamentary setting or the Civil Service.
Thinking back to A-level day, she said: “I can’t pretend it was the happiest day of my life, but sometimes what you think is the end of the world can be a blessing in disguise.
“In a way, having that disappointment on A-level day inspired me to get a first at degree level.
“From that day I opened my results, I decided I was going to give 100 per cent to every uni assignment and exam, so whatever mark I got in the end for my degree I could say to myself I’d given my all.”
I rushed my decision... but it all turned out OK
Elizabeth Knight, 21, from Billericay, was hoping to bag a spot in a top university as she awaited her A-level results.
She was delighted to get offers from Exeter and Liverpool unis, which were impressed with her predicted A-A-B grades back in 2010.
But results day proved a heartbreaking narrow miss, after she failed to hit her target by just one grade.
“My mistake was in choosing an insurance choice that didn’t offer too much in the way of insurance,” she admits.
“On results day I was a complete mess, crying and refusing to believe that I wasn’t on my way to university, when all of my friends were celebrating getting their first choices.”
With her top uni options out of reach, Elizabeth turned to the clearing process for help.
She hastily chose her academic future from a list of clearing university places and courses in a national newspaper.
The aspiring midwife opted to study Biomedical Science at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge, but felt her decision was rushed.
She adds: “The course I ended up on I didn’t enjoy, because it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.
“They were offering hundreds of places, so I got in straight away.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I mostly enjoyed living in Cambridge, but I would advise anyone who had high grades like myself to take time out, as you will get to go to a university of your choice.”
But her story has a happy ending.
She adds: “I worked very hard during my time at university and I will be graduating in October with a first.
“This has enabled me to start midwifery training in September at the University of Surrey.”
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