My studies started off wonderfully. I achieved great GCSE results which I was very proud of. I knew I wanted to go to university, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study at that point. At A-level, I chose to study Sociology, English Language and Maths, and I undertook an AS-level in Chemistry.
I was actually doing pretty well in my A-levels: I was on target to achieve grades A*AB. The issue with grade predictions, however, is that they don’t know the status of your mental health.
I had been struggling with my mental health for around a couple of years prior to starting my A-levels, this wasn’t a new thing. However, the thing that changed was the severity – it played havoc with my sleep, my concentration and therefore my grades. I felt absolutely helpless!
By the middle of Year 13, I was barely sleeping at all. Forcing myself to concentrate on my schoolwork was really difficult, I felt very alone and like a complete failure.
Keeping myself going from day to day was the main motivation. I was in survival mode and nothing else mattered anymore. All I wanted was to keep going, and my schoolwork took the sacrifice.
My coursework wasn’t amazing, certainly not by my standards, and I couldn’t revise effectively no matter how much time I spent trying. This is coming from someone who worked with the BBC on a campaign to help GCSE students revise well!
The final blow to my education came when I had to start taking anti-depressant medication as I started my A-level exams. Whilst it helped me in the long term, the short-term effects weren’t exactly beneficial. So, why does this matter? Well when I left sixth form and started to find treatment, things began to improve for me.
I came out with less than stellar A-level grades (BDE), but all I cared about was that I passed. After a summer of working full time as a lifeguard, trying to rebuild myself, I decided it wasn’t for me. Despite my grades, I was determined to go to uni.
I applied to study Sociology at the University of Suffolk through clearing. It was local to me, and I met the entry requirements. I got in: I was elated. I still had a chance of earning a degree.
I completed the first year at Suffolk, reigniting my love of learning. I got a grade of 71% in the first year and immersed myself in extra-curricular activities. I was a student ambassador and a member of the Student Council.
This begged the question of what’s next? I applied to transfer to the University of Essex, using my University of Suffolk grade as my gateway. Clearly, I had proven my ability to them, as they gave me a place. I was truly over the moon. I’m happily studying there now and I’m planning to do a master’s degree at the end of next year!
What does this story say? Simply, don’t panic too much about your performance in one particular stage of life. Everyone has their own story, so don’t lose heart. If an exam or grade doesn’t turn out how you expected due to your own personal circumstances, don’t panic! Things can, and will, turn around for you.
All I want is for you to succeed, and I know you can. Try to view yourself as a whole, rather than focusing on the one grade, the one stage, the one area where you didn’t do as well as you hoped. If something doesn’t work out, don’t fret, because something will work out in the end.
If you’d like to check out my BBC revision content, go to www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ support