Re-taking my A-levels

a-level_re-takes_300Disappointing A-levels results don’t mean the end of your dreams. For Lucy Rutter, A-level re-takes and a English degree proved her unusual route to a career in medicine.

Before I begin let me straighten out a few things. On results day, if all does not go according to plan remember these things: people will support you; there are always options; you are not on your own. And finally, as much as you will think it, just as I have thought it before you; it is not the end of your life.

I had done well at GCSE and AS level and for a good few years had passionately wanted to study medicine. So, when my A level results were not what I had expected and I was staring into a medicine-less abyss, I flew into a blind, nauseated panic. I felt confused, bewildered, enraged. Yes, boys and girls, my life was over. But, then so were the lives of thousands of other students up and down the country. Seek comfort from the masses: if the worst happens to you, you can bet your life the worst is happening to others from Land’s End to John O’Groats. But there are options for your fellow students, just as there are options for you too.

Initially, I chose action. I got my papers remarked and sought guidance from everyone around me: parents, school careers officers, UCAS and the universities themselves. You wouldn’t believe the support network available to you.

After hours of searching through Clearing I decided that I really wasn’t ready to embark on a degree that I hadn’t hoped to do. I therefore made the hardest but best decision of my life and went back to school for my gap year to retake the A levels I had underperformed in. It was during this time that I decided to do an English degree, after all, English had always been my best subject and I remember deciding that from that moment onward I would play to my strengths. So at the end of a year filled with Chemistry with the sixth form and lots of lacrosse (brilliant!) I came out the other side with the correct A-level grades for me and a place at Royal Holloway, University of London.

I graduated with a 2.1 in English and thanks to some serious application in my third year, got a place at the University of Southampton to read medicine starting in October of that year.

I’m not going to pretend that this path is the easiest route to take. It was a dark time for me when I failed to get into university but a time that without which I would not be the person I am now. It is always going to be hard when you feel your hopes are dashed, but stick with it, decide what you want to do, and feed off of the wisdom of those around you; who knows what might happen! Just one thing to bear in mind: every cloud!

Lucy Rutter

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Explore your options after A-levels – disappointing or otherwise – with our handy guide.