Keep Calm, It's Only A-Level Results!

09:55 Unknown 0 Comments

As A-level results approach I’m sure many of you are trying to cram your days with activities and holidays to distract you from the looming results day. It’s a terrifying time, that envelope has the potential to have a significant impact on your life. I’ve gone through this process twice, once in 2011 and then again in 2015. Though there were slight differences each time.


I had attended Ashlyns sixth form and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. A miracle had occurred and I had been fortunate enough to be offered a place off of the reserve list at Anglia Ruskin University Chelmsford to study BSc Midwifery. On results day, sitting in the car park I was shaking, my mother had spent the last year telling me I would regret my party lifestyle and I was beginning to wonder if she was right, had I studied hard enough?
Due to my place at the university originally being on the reserve list, before becoming official, unlike all of my friends I was unable to tell via UCAS that morning whether or not I had met my conditional offer. So whilst my friends were celebrating, I was biting my nails.
I can remember peeling back the envelope seeing that I had met my offer and running back to the car yelling “I’m going to be a midwife.” After taking several moments to collect myself and calm down I phoned the university to have my place confirmed. After that it was all official, I was part of the September 2011 cohort. Now I may have only completed one year due to becoming incurably ill, but it was the best year of my life.

Learning about the fetal skull


After leaving ARU it took a few years and training in a variety of trades before I decided I wanted to return to university life. Eventually I settled on publishing; having always been an avid reader and writer and it seemed a logical option, one that I am now thrilled to have chosen. University entry grades had climbed dramatically since I had first applied four years ago, so I returned to college to study an A level in Creative Writing.
At the end of my AS year I attended the Oxford Brookes June 2015 open day.  The uni, course, and city captured me. I managed to grab hold of one of the lecturers and explained why I had left my previous uni and my experience in publishing (I am very lucky to have had several freelancing opportunities for magazines such as Cosmopolitan), just like that I had an unconditional offer.
Having an unconditional offer took a huge amount of pressure off of my results, however naturally I still wanted to achieve well for myself. So when results day came around my stress levels were lower the previously but I was far from relaxed despite knowing that no matter the result my place here was secure. It transpired that my grade was fantastic and I had no need to worry.
How could you not fall in love when your have lectures in this building?!

Results day is never going to be stress free, you may do exactly as your school predicted, exceed by miles, or be disappointed. No matter what your results are don’t be afraid to phone your university/college/employer and see if they will still be willing to take you on. This happens far more often than is openly talked about! 


The Sense of an Ending

19:06 Unknown 2 Comments

When I decided to begin writing my post-graduation blog, it felt a bit like traversing a mine field of clichés. It’s been an incredibly emotional couple of weeks and it’s been difficult not to get all dewey-eyed and oversentimental about the whole thing. Cynicism aside, the day itself was fantastic, and as you’d expect, a time for reflection on three pivotal years at University.

It was genuinely wonderful to see so many friends so upbeat, finally able to celebrate after years of hard work, deadlines and stress. That’s not to say the day itself wasn’t a *little* stressful. Between the erratic weather conditions that alternated between sunshine and torrential rain, and my (adorable) two-year-old niece scurrying around the reception area during a major sugar rush it was a pretty crazy day.

Unfortunately, my parents weren’t able to make it to the ceremony, so I was grateful when it turned out Brookes would be streaming the event live on their website. This meant that they too could see the five wonderful seconds I spent on stage collecting my degree. I’m honestly still surprised I managed to avoid falling over.

 The ceremony itself also featured a speech by Vicar of Dibley writer Paul Mayhew-Archer, who collected an honorary doctorate. I felt the need to mention this as he gave a witty and insightful speech, and it was a nice surprise on an already great day.
To be honest, one of my personal highlights was actually being given a slightly different robe to wear than the rest of my friends. I still have no idea why this was the case, but I’m clearly easily amused and it made me feel important.

My photogenic family

All this couldn’t have been more at odds with my attitude three years ago, when I received my A-level results. After barely salvaging some pretty mediocre AS scores, I managed to just about make it into my first choice University. While that involved some memorable celebrations as well, including going clubbing with my teachers after valedictory dinner, my merrymaking was accompanied by a vague sense of disappointment. College was a fantastic experience for me, but making the step up to University represented an entirely different set of challenges and opportunities. I didn’t feel ready at all.

It really has been a rollercoaster three years (I did warn about the clichés). Far too much has changed to explain succinctly. In relation to my degree, I like to think Brookes was where I finally knuckled down and started applying myself after years of feeling fairly indifferent towards education. Especially given that this felt like my last opportunity to tap into any potential I had for academia. In the end, I’m proud to think I succeeded in doing this, thanks in part to making the JHB my second home for large chunks of the year. At the end of it all it was amazing to graduate with a first class degree on what was a surreal day.

Before Brookes molded me into the man I am today

In spite of everything I’ve just written, I do think I probably don’t feel quite the same as a lot of other people who graduated on the same day. I’ll be continuing my studies in English Literature at Brookes at Master’s level next year. I’ll even be staying at Clive Booth Hall again, like I did in first year. This obviously meant that graduating didn’t represent the seismic shift in lifestyle or leap into the dark void of adulthood that it did for most others. Regardless, I will miss a lot of people who won’t be around next year and not seeing them on campus will be pretty bizarre.

Thanks for reading and best of luck to everyone who has recently graduated from Oxford Brookes!