I’ll always fondly remember this very day last year as being, sans melodrama, the worst day of my entire life. After receiving straight A’s at AS-Level and applying to the gargantuan likes of Oxford and Queen Mary, I was dead set on heading to the University of Warwick to study English and Drama. But then that fateful mid-August day came and my whole life seemed to crash down right around me. After being accepted to all my universities, they all then turned around and rejected me with my not-even-that-terrible ACC grades. My last resort, which soon became my greatest saviour, was the Clearing system.
For those who are not familiar with Clearing, when universities fail to fill all their places on the courses due to students not achieving the required grades, or spaces created from students withdrawing their applications, they advertise these empty spaces on the UCAS Clearing list. It’s basically a lonely hearts column for less-than satisfied universities. Instead of the whole application process, waiting for that conditional offer and further waiting to receive your exam results to find out where you are going in life, Clearing is a breath of fresh air, with universities posting exactly what they want and encouraging all to apply who fulfil the criteria.
I hurtled through the clearing process with shameless desperation, trying to find somewhere which would accept me, whilst desperately trying to choke back the tears. It was evidently not my proudest day, but in the end I came to two options; The University of Hull, and The University of Hertfordshire. My final decision was so monumental that in the end I could only come to the conclusion through logical and rational reasoning; the word ‘Hull’ was one letter away from ‘Hell’ and the word ‘Herts’ was one letter away from ‘Heart’.
After receiving final confirmation from Hertfordshire that I was definitely heading there in September, my relief was more than palpable. The next obstacle, however, was accommodation. Although the university had many free spaces on their courses, it appeared they had very limited spaces in halls of residence. Around half of the people who got in through clearing were left effectively homeless, including, of course, me.
The University had a certain number of five or six bedroom off-campuses houses ready to be rented, and their slightly unorthodox solution was to invite every single person down to an open day, chuck them all in a big room and give them just ten minutes – the only way anyone is getting out, is if they have five other new housemates in tow. As you can imagine, two hundred highly-strung, desperate and awkward teenagers being forced to make lifelong friends in the space of ten minutes, proved for one of the most humiliating and cringe-inducing situations I’ve ever experienced. However, as we were all in exact same boat, we all managed to find a little humour in the situation, and I left that room with five new housemates and a sparkling new house ready to move in to. After all the stress, finally all the loose ends had been tied and my future seemed a little clearer.
Within the first few weeks of the first semester at The University of Hertfordshire, it became clear that ruining my life was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. I spent my days strolling through the leafy campuses and sitting in packed lecture halls, taking trips into the beautiful surrounding cities and training with my great friends on the cheerleading squad, and the nights were filled with the most exciting and enthralling night-life, right on our doorstep. And the best thing about it all? The people that I got to share this experience this with.
One year down the line, these five people that I met by chance in a packed hall of academic rejects have become the best friends I have ever had, and more than that, we have become a family.
After all the drama and tears of results day right up until the day I moved into the house in Hertfordshire, I cannot believe how lucky I’ve been and still continue to be in this incredible place, with these incredible people. Clearly, everyone’s experience of the A-Level and University experience is unique, but if there was anything I’d like to say is that Clearing seemed like the worst thing which could’ve happened to me, and it turned into the best thing I have ever done.