Tomorrow is a big day for Upper Sixth Form students across the country, with exam results being released and future’s being decided.

But that’s not necessarily the case; getting your first choice university could turn out to be completely wrong for you and lead you to a new career and life path, one that you can’t imagine today. On the other hand, not getting the grades you so sorely want could also lead to you taking that one, different opportunity which leads to everything you ever dreamed of.

So, let’s discuss that: what happens tomorrow does not decide your future.

Every year some students achieve the grades they need (or higher) to enter their first choice university, but before you worry about not getting them, remember that drop-out rates of some courses are high as 10.7% in the first year – a lot of people go to university and discover that they’d actually much rather be doing something different.

But if you’re bent on getting onto that one course because: you’ve loved it since you were six; know most of the lecturers’ names because you’ve researched the department 14 times; and have a great love for the fountain at one side of campus which you saw in real life on your open day… Then you have options if things don’t go to plan.

Remember your second choice is your second choice for a reason. I have known several people who just missed out on their first choice university, which destroyed their world for several days, but once they attended university, they had an incredible time. It’s worth considering that it’s not always just your course that makes your uni experience; often it’s the people you meet and extra-curricular opportunities you take which form the highlights of your student life.

This point also goes for clearing. I know someone who accepted a place on a completely different course at a completely different university and is now having the time of her life. Unexpected, but awesome. Clearing is not the end of the world.

Neither is not going to university: there are plenty of other options such as apprenticeships, a gap year, or completely changing your A Levels/BTECs/any qualifications at all and restarting year 12 (yes, I also know someone who did that and yes, they got into uni and yes, they’re having a ball). There are plenty of options to reach your goal, so don’t stress, you’ve got this.

If you are reading this thinking “I only put a second choice because I had to”, then fear not, I know how you feel. I had already planned to take a gap year and so deferred my entry: if you only like one course, then taking a gap year to re-sit some exams is not the end of the world. Again, this is something I know several people who have been through and it’s turned out to be the best thing they could do.

There are plenty of work experiences for young people available and if you want to earn some extra money before uni, taking a year out could work well for you. It also gives you time to consider if the course is definitely the one. During my gap year I entirely changed my mind on what career I wanted to do; someone I know changed her course from maths to music(!) during her gap year – don’t underestimate how much you could change in a year.

If you’re worried about this, talk to your parents, guardians or teachers about it today, this way you’ll feel more prepared for tomorrow.

If your second choice is Loughborough and you achieve the grades to take a course here, stay positive. We’re a top 10 university and you will probably love it just as much as your first choice (everyone’s different, of course). The people to contact if you make it can be found by searching for your course at for your department staff, and phoning +44 (0)1509 274488 for accommodation. Halls can go quickly so be sure to phone accommodation in the morning and remember each hall has a strong family feel, so you will find friends wherever you go.

If Loughborough was your first choice and you narrowly missed out, do call your course staff to discuss the possibility of still coming to Lough. It may be that lots of people just missed out and the course has some spaces, so this is always worth doing.

If Loughborough was your first choice and exams went, well, comfort food and crying on the couch worthy, don’t worry. As I said before, your second choice is there for a reason, taking a gap year is a possibility if you need it, and wherever you go – you will enjoy it.

On top of all of this, there’s one thing that I want to remind you of. It’s incredibly important and some educational places don’t stress it enough.

Your grades do not define your future.

Take a moment to read that again.

Maybe they define where you can go next, but if you know exactly where you want to get in the end and you wholeheartedly want to get there… you will. Nothing can stop you from achieving what you want to in life, especially not some person you’ve never met who may have had a bad coffee when they marked your work.

You define your future. No-one else.

Good luck and stay calm tomorrow; you’ve got this, no matter what happens.


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