I’ve never really spoken about this and it is only really my closest friends and family who know my little story about how I got in to uni. So I decided that with A level results day today I would share my story in this one off post.
I’d done great at GCSE, I had 11 GCSEs, 4 A*s and 7 As. I picked my AS Levels, biology, chemistry, physics, German and maths (although I dropped maths about a month in to year 12). I was so excited to finally be studying what I wanted to and be on my way to becoming a marine biologist (although I think at the start of year 12 I wanted to be a doctor but I soon changed my mind back to a marine biologist).
I really enjoyed my AS levels… Up until March of year 12 that is when I found out my first set of grades. I can’t remember my chemistry grade but I got a D in my first biology exam of my AS levels. It wasn’t great! Especially as I had my mind set on biology in some form!
So I retook that biology exam in the summer of 2011 along with all my other exams. I’d started looking at universities. I was still predicted As and Bs so I was still looking at the “better” universities. Then AS results day came… I’d got a D in biology, and Cs in physics (I was so flipping proud of that C in AS physics), German and chemistry. I was so disheartened by the D and suddenly my hopes of getting in to the unis I’d already looked at all but disappeared.
So I had to start looking at other universities, those who would take me with lower grades and my predicted grades for A2 suddenly dropped to Cs. I sought help from teachers, one of my chemistry teachers patronised me, but the other one (who was only part time) went out of her way to help me. I’ll forever thank her for that! And biology… We went through the process of entering me for again another re-sit (so I would be taking 3 biology exams in January of year 13) and getting my papers back. I remember sitting through them with my biology teacher and we were so frustrated. My teacher could see I knew what I was talking about I’d just keep missing one key word in my answers which meant I wasn’t getting the marks that I should! So frustrating!
Anyway… My marks for my January exams and resits of year 13 were mixed. I remember getting a U in one of my chemistry exams and a C in the other, an A in my German resit, and bad grades again in biology!
Anyway, by now I’d selected my university offers and was still holding out any chance of getting in to one of my universities. Especially after my A in my German resit! Anyway, I took my A levels and I was done… Then came the nervous wait for exam results.
Let’s just say this, A levels and me didn’t go well. It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard for them, I just struggled more than anyone should at A-level!
So at 6am on 16th August 2012 I had an email with my A level results and I was so shocked, I’d managed to get a B in biology and a C in German and chemistry. I had a B in biology!!!! Anyway, UCAS went live early and my UCAS didn’t say anything. When you log in that morning it tells you straight away where you’ve been accepted, your first choice or your insurance choice. I fully expected to log in to see it saying Portsmouth (my insurance). But it didn’t! Uh oh!
Soon after 8am when UCAS was supposed to go live I had a phone call from Newcastle University (my first choice) saying that although they couldn’t give me a place on Marine Biology they could offer me a place on their zoology course instead. They kindly gave me some time to think and investigate their course and after finding out I wasn’t going to be able to get accommodation at Portsmouth I decided to take up the offer to study Zoology at Newcastle.
I was happy, I was going to a good university. I remember going in to school to collect my paper copy of my results to be met by teachers who assumed I was going to Portsmouth. But no! I had great delight in telling them I’d got in to Newcastle!
Anyway, when I accepted that place on Zoology I was told I wouldn’t be able to transfer to marine biology but I was going to study somewhere I knew I liked, and study something I was interested in.
So basically I was lucky, A-levels didn’t go my way but somehow Newcastle liked me and took me on. I also think that applications were lower than normal as I was going to be the first year group to pay £9000, which probably helped get me in.
I expected to struggle at uni after struggling in A-levels as much as I did. But weirdly I was doing well. I was getting pretty decent marks. Anyway, fast forward to Easter 2013 I decided to approach the school of marine science at Newcastle and asked them if there was any chance at all of me transferring. I was shocked when they said I could transfer on to their marine zoology course in second year if I passed first year with a first.
And guess what I did? I passed first year with a first and I became a marine zoology student. It was so crazy the journey I’d been on to get there… But I got there.
Moral of the story? A levels aren’t the end of the world! You can still do it and you can still get there. Yes maybe I was lucky, but I really wouldn’t change that journey I’ve been on for a thing. I’ve met some of my best friends on both of the two courses I was on and looking back now I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved. Every A level results day I am so thankful that Newcastle took me on, and I think to myself I wouldn’t change anything. What I’ve achieved at uni I’ve worked hard for, and I know I wouldn’t have achieved it without that hard work. I always wish I could go back and show my school teachers where I am now too, show them what I’ve achieved and that my “failure” at A level (they made me believe that Bs and Cs were fails because they were expecting us to get As and A*s) has really been the making of me and since then I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I could academically.