Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week you will have realised that it has been A-Level results day, the headlines proclaiming record results and the pictures of nubile blondes leaping for joy probably gave it away.
It’s a week at work that I really don’t enjoy as part of my job is to field calls from students who have not done as well as they hoped and are left to scrabble around for places in the hell that is commonly known as ‘clearing’. I liken it to kicking puppies, or more topically, putting cats in wheelie bins. It’s not something any sane person wants to do and it hurts the recipient but sadly in terms of my job and tearing apart the dreams of 18 year olds, something I have to do.
The phone rings and I answer hearing the person on the other end take a deep breath steeling themselves to give me their spiel which they usually then deliver without either stopping for breath or letting me speak. (I always imagine it’s because they’re worried they’ll cry the poor lambkins)
This year the fact that hardly any of our courses had space meant that I spent a lot of my day saying ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have any space left on BSc Underwater Basket Weaving’. The applicant then did one of two things, they either admitted defeat and weepily or sulkily hung up or they asked ‘well, what HAVE you got space in?’. I had one young man whocalled enquiring about spaces on our Film degree only to then ask me what I knew about BSc Population Sciences and Geography and did I think he’d enjoy it….. It seemed he was willing to make a snap decision on what to study at degree level based on a quick phone call. I know the university I work for is super awesome and everyone should want to come here but dude, come on.
I made a snap decision to study Sociology when filling out my UCAS form, it seemed sort of interesting and the entry grades were lower than I was predicted to achieve so it nicely took the pressure off. Of course I knobbed up my A-Levels and ended up scraping in by the skin of my teeth before dropping out at the end of the first year and heading off to rehab so maybe I’m not the best person to advise on making snap decisions. I felt a bit blue about the futures of the little puppies I’d been kicking when I left work on Thursday, I had joked about wanting to set up my own university and accepting them all no matter what their grades were but then on Friday I was treated to some time ‘down with the kids’ and I realised I was being an overemotional dickhead.
The girls I met were smart, SO smart, and confident and determined and all of them knew when asked exactly what they wanted to be doing in ten years time and how they were going to get there. It was great to see however it made me a bit sad (god my bloody hormones) as I remembered back to being their age (‘In my day we used to walk fourteen miles to school in the SNOW’) and how uncertain, unconfident and unsure I was. I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do in life, all I knew was that I wanted out of my situation at the time and I figured by moving away to university I’d leave the grief of losing Mum and the stress of Dad being ill behind and be free to be a teenager again. Of course it didn’t work like that and as previously mentioned, I bombed out of uni and straight into The Priory for 12 weeks of stimulant free fun.
It doesn’t matter now though as I realise it’s just part of the journey I’m on (wanky much?) that is slowly but surely taking me to exactly where I am meant to be in life. It’s the same for all the students out there whether they made their grades or not, I like to think it’s all part of a bigger picture. It might all seem totally shit at the moment because you didn’t get into the University of your dreams but the journey and the changes you’re due to go through will happen at whatever fine institution you enter, even if that institution is the University of Life.