The Results Day Survival Guide: What To Do If It All Goes Wrong

Keep calm and carry on. Exactly, behatted boy, exactly.

Oh, August, how cruel you are. First you tempt us with the inviting promise of no school for an entire month, then you take it away just as we’re getting used to doing bugger all every day. Yes, the day is almost upon us – the dreaded day when teenagers across the UK find out what their destiny is: cold baked beans and vodka shots at the university of their choice, or uncertainty at the University of Life. Here’s my guide to results day – aka the worst day of your life so far.

Don’t panic
You’ve probably heard this one every day since you finished your last exam, but when your mum tells you that “whatever will be, will be”, she’s not wrong. Mums are never wrong, we all know that. It’s completely out of your hands now, which is very scary, but at the same time kinda liberating, dontcha think? Hopefully you will have done your best in your exams, hopefully you will have an ace insurance university as well as your Ultra Amazing firm university, so just sit back and wait. You’ve suffered enough – working through those excruciating past papers, revising until your eyes go funny, falling asleep with a textbook for a pillow. Why heap more stress upon yourself?

Be prepared
So you’ve got your offer, you’ve applied for accommodation and student finance, and are busy trying to decide whether to take Snuggles the childhood teddybear to university with you, but don’t let this be the only scenario you think about. It’s not nice to think about, but what are you going to do if you open that dreaded envelope and find that you haven’t got exactly what you want? You will be a lot better off if you are prepared for the worst, believe me.

If it goes your way…
Brilliant! Congratulations are in order. Continue dreaming of people nicking your food and not washing up after themselves, and get ready for the best time of your life. (And take Snuggles if you really want to)

If it doesn’t go your way…
…don’t worry. This time last year, I was in your shoes. I opened the Envelope Of Doom, scanned the results, found that I’d missed out by a grade, started to cry, and then didn’t stop crying for the rest of the day when I found that I’d missed my offer by ten marks. Nothing anyone said to me made me feel any better, so I know that when I say ‘it’s not the end of the world‘, your response is going to be somewhere between a sob and a punch in the face. It does feel like the end of the world, I know. Cry all you want, let it all out. Curse yourself, the exam board, your college, do whatever makes you feel better. And then pick yourself up, find some fighting spirit within, and get on with it.

Know what to expect from Clearing
So you haven’t made it. You have a few choices. You can either accept defeat, and take a gap year, or you can fight on and go through Clearing. First of all, before you decide anything, phone up your firm university. Talk to someone at admissions, and ask if it’s possible that they’ll take you on even though you’ve missed your offer. If they’ve got a lot of places left, then they might let you do this. If they do, count yourself VERY LUCKY INDEED – if they don’t, well, it was worth a try. My university said no. Personally, this made me angry (though still a tearful, emotional wreck kind of angry), and hopefully it will give you motivation to find a way in to university too, even if it’s not your ideal path.

Know what to bring with you on the day:

  • A copy of The Independent. They publish all clearing spaces available on the day, and it’s an invaluable resource. Your college or school will probably have a few copies, but it’s good to have your own copy to make notes on and draw sad faces on if things go wrong.
  • Your UCAS number and username, personal statement, AS results, module results, even GCSE results…anything that will help your case when talking to universities that have clearing places.
  • Tissues. Results day is an emotional day, believe me.
  • A phone. You’re going to be using it either way, whether it’s to phone up excited aunts/uncles, or to phone up universities and tearfully demand that they give you a place. Make sure you have enough credit, or, like me, you’ll end up using your mum’s half way through.
  • Pens, and a notepad. Just in case. You will hate yourself if you need to write something down and have nothing to write with, and nothing to write on.
  • Prepare some answers to difficult questions like “Why do you want to study this subject?”. Universities will be a lot more impressed if you can answer these things with ease, instead of a sob and a ‘Because I do! PLEAAAAASE GIVE ME A PLACE!’. But at the same time, don’t mechanically repeat something you’ve memorised – just have an idea of what you’ll say if they ask you any difficult questions.

Read up on Clearing before the day
It’s a confusing process. The Student Room have a great guide on Clearing, which you should read even if you think you’ll do fine.

…and begin your assault.
It’s best to start this as soon as possible, because spaces fill up fast. Hopefully you’ll find a place, get things sorted, and won’t be too disappointed that you missed your original offer. But if you don’t…

…Don’t give up.
There’s always next year, which is a rubbish thing to hear, I know. If you’ve applied for entry this year, it means you want to go this year, and don’t want a gap year, but if things really do go pear shaped then don’t be disheartened. I missed out on my offer, then met it, then missed out again. It was, quite frankly, hell. I reluctantly took a gap year, and have had a blast. I got a job, met some amazing people, made some money (that I consequently spent on nights out, clothes, and fun things like bus travel), and am now about to go to university that turned me down last year, unconditional offer under my belt. And I now prefer it this way, and am grateful that I got the chance to live a bit, despite absolutely bloody hating it this time last year. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone, and I’m SO looking forward to finally returning to being a student in little more than a month’s time. If I can do it, so can you.

Bonus tips!

If things seem a little off, challenge it.
When I got my results, I realised with horror that I got a D in one of my psychology coursework modules, which is what brought my psychology grade down and made me miss my offer. When my teacher had marked it earlier that term, she had given it a B. I was confused, and so requested a remark. It was worth a try, and at this point I was desperate. It cost a hell of a lot to get priority remarking, but my mum helped me pay it and when I got the remark back, it had changed to a C, bringing my overall grade up to a B, which meant that I’d met my offer! Best £40 I’ve ever spent.

If you don’t get in, but all your friends do, don’t let Facebook get you down!
For every “been out all week lol freshers is amazing I think im still drunk! Everyones so amazing, love my flatmates!!! wooo more shots tonight, 50p each, bargain! :) …how did that traffic cone get into my room???

…there will be ten more “Ugh late for my lecture again this morning, stayed up all night cleaning someone’s sick up and washing up the plates that bitch from two doors down left in the kitchen. And i’ve still got 3000 words of my essay to write, in by tomorrow. So homesick :(“ in a few months time.


This post originally appeared on Sheffield University’s Freshers Blog.


One Comment

  1. Stroller Reviews
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

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