“I would never have got this far in my career if I had got into my first choice of University”

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  • Here are Team Marie Claire’s stories…

    A-level results are announced this morning and as always there will be just as many tears as celebrations up and down the country.

    Some people will have got their grade requirements and already be packing for their first choice of uni, but for others, this will be a long week of scouring remaining university choices via clearing and crying into comfort food, before landing on an impromptu gap year.

    To those people, we say – we get you.

    Just talking about our dreaded A-Level results days, Team Marie Claire realised that few of us actually had good memories. A lot of us didn’t get the results we wanted and ended up going to our second, third or even fifth choice of university. But that’s ok, and without that happening, we wouldn’t have got to where we are now.

    Whether you go to Exeter or Cardiff and whether you go to university or not, you’re still going to experience the same life moments.

    You will fall in love, you will make friends for life, you will find your career path and at some point you will be so poor that you will have to share a pot noodle for breakfast with your housemate.

    Nothing will change those facts.

    No matter what you got in your A-levels, everything is going to be OK, so take a deep breath and read our stories because we were once you.

    Here are some stories from Team MC…

    Jenny Proudfoot – Features Editor

    “My A-level results day was one of the worst days I can remember – I’ve always been a slow developer and at 18, I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t get the grades I needed, and got a D in French – the one subject I wanted to pursue. I spent the whole day crying on my sofa eating brownie batter, feeling like my life was over and that I had let everybody down. All of my friends were off to university and I wasn’t going with them. That day changed my life and entirely for the better – I literally developed an insane work ethic overnight and ever since have worked as hard as I can to make sure that I never feel like that again. I worked in France for a year, became fluent, retook my French A-level and got a place at the University of East Anglia to study French with International Development. None of my school friends had gone there and as a city it wasn’t on my radar until it was my only choice, but looking back I can’t imagine going anywhere else. My days at UEA were the best of my life, and it was there that I met my best friends and discovered journalism as my career path. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t initially failed my A-levels, but I don’t think it would be as good as where I am now, and I definitely wouldn’t have got as far.”

    Andrea Thompson – Editor in Chief

    “I applied to Cambridge with dreams of becoming a lawyer but completely flunked my interview. I was so nervous that I totally clammed up. My head was spinning and I found it impossible to answer the first couple of questions. I ended up going to York University instead and studied English. I had the most amazing three years and met some of my best life-long friends as well as having a healthy social life I don’t think I’d have had at Cambridge. But most of all I developed my love of political and feminist literature from a really inspiring lecturer there. It was that which spurred me onto a career in journalism, which has taken me all over the world reporting on a hugely diverse range of stories from The Oscars to child exploitation. Its also been a lot of fun and so rewarding. Looking back, I’m not sure being a lawyer would have been for me.”

    Lucy Pavia – Former Entertainment Editor

    “I’m embarrassed to admit I thought my university applications would be a cake walk. I had 4 As at A-level in the bag and a lovely glowing reference from my headmistress. Come and get me, boyz! Then the rejection letters started to hit the doormat. A quick no from Oxford (not much of a surprise given my car crash interview), then Edinburgh, Exeter and finally Durham. The two remaining universities – Leeds and Newcastle – I had put on my UCAS form without any thought of actually going to one of them. Now they were my two options. After visiting both campuses and cities I picked Newcastle. What came next was three years studying English Literature in an incredible place, making friends I’m still close to a decade later and drinking more Glens vodka than any human should in a lifetime. I know it can seem the end of the world when things don’t go to plan, but it can also teach you to adapt to a new (and often better) reality, a really valuable experience to have under your belt when you’re released into the world of work, where very little is a given.”

    Megan Hills – Freelance Writer

    “When I found out I missed my offer, I hid in a quiet corner of my aunt’s house and cried for hours. I was super lucky though and Warwick wound up letting me in anyway, however I had this massive chip on my shoulder because I didn’t feel like I’d earned it. I became a more driven person because I felt like I had something to prove, but now nobody can tell me I didn’t deserve to be there because I walked out with a first. It’s not your results that define you, it’s the way you deal with your challenges that do.”

    Katie Thomas – Senior Digital Beauty Editor

    “My father went to Cardiff University and regaled us with tales of the incredible time he had there. When I found out that a) they did a journalism course and b) three of my best friends were planning to go there, I applied straight away. I visited a few other places and put them as my other options just to make my career advisor happy, but all I wanted was Cardiff. When I got my A-Level results and found that I hadn’t got the grades they required my whole world fell apart. Give me some credit, I was 17 – this was the end of my world! I rang up Clearing and got through to the department head at Cardiff who told me that he couldn’t admit me, as I had expressed my deep hatred for critical thinking in my personal statement (d’oh) and one of the key modules on the course was exactly that. So I was forced to attend my second choice, Bournemouth University. At school, we were encouraged to apply to Red Brick unis, so Bournemouth was not ideal in my mind. However, it was quite literally the best thing that could have happened to me. The year before, the Bournemouth University media school had won a lottery grant, propelling it and its courses to number one in the country. Because I was so obsessed with Cardiff, I hadn’t even researched Bournemouth and its credentials. Rather than learning about critical thinking (yuck), we were the first students in the country with access to an HD TV studio. I was exposed to radio, TV, news, features and online journalism in all my three years on the course and the connections that the school had made with the real journalism industry was second to none. Oh and p.s. I did all my revision on the beach. So that was fucking great.”

    Sarah Barnes – Former Beauty Writer

    “Having been at military school, I was used to structure and regiment so when it came to deciding on my degree I was recommended straight Journalism as it was a more academic course. Following this advice I got accepted to Winchester university which was my first choice. However after a month there I realised I was not happy and was not getting to be creative in the way I dreamt of. After many nights awake worrying I decided to transfer to UCA and study Fashion Journalism. Starting university is such a nervous time and I did I twice in one month – I can only say that it was the best decision as I wouldn’t be where I am now otherwise. I’ve made amazing friends, learnt about the fashion and beauty world, travelled to incredible places for photoshoots and I get to be really creative every day. So follow your gut and don’t be afraid to change your degree if you don’t feel it’s right – its so important to do what you love.”


    So basically, whatever results you receive this week, you are going to be fine. Life will go on and you will still get to experience all of the same exciting life moments. A-levels may seem like the most important thing right now but further down the line they really won’t. And one day you will be in our shoes, living your dream job and able to look back at this moment and laugh.

    Just take a deep breath and find your next step.

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