Maybe it was meant to be? A reflection on what getting your insurance choice uni means

Fresher’s Week can be even harder for those who don’t get their first choice. Head of Design, Siarlot Lloyd shares her personal experiences of missing out on her first choice university.


A little over five years ago, I felt sick to my stomach as I looked at a piece of paper in my sixth form common room. Despite the work I’d put in, the hours spent on coursework or stressing over exams and re-sits, I had proof that it hadn’t been enough.

I’d known in the morning, when I received a congratulatory e-mail from the University of Sunderland welcoming me onto the course. But Sunderland had been my insurance university. I’d set my heart on Sheffield, and after months of dreaming and planning. It was gone.

To add insult to injury, to quote my Facebook post of that day:

“I have lost any vestiges of respect I might have had for the government. Overall, I ended up with 4 Bs, the equivalent of 400 UCAS points. However, Sheffield are unable to accept any more students with lower than AAB, an equivalent of 340 UCAS points. This seem highly logical and fair…”

I wasn’t the only one either. My best friend, who had spent the night before getting sloshed and had turned up to results day looking like an unhealthy corpse thanks to the hangover that kicked in during our head of years ‘what to do now speech’, had also set their heart on Sheffield, and they didn’t even manage their insurance choice.

My best friend, who had spent the night before getting sloshed and had turned up to results day looking like an unhealthy corpse thanks to the hangover that kicked in during our head of years ‘what to do now speech’, had also set their heart on Sheffield, and they didn’t even manage their insurance choice”

I cried, I begged, I pleaded, to the admissions staff at Sheffield but to no avail. I considered re-sitting — but then, my head of year asked me whether I really wanted to or not. He thought that going to university, even if it wasn’t my first choice, was going to be the best thing for me.

And ultimately, Mr Walker you were right. There, I said it.

It wasn’t easy — I lost out on the halls I’d chosen because I was an insurance choice and ended up miserable in private halls for a year — but that’s another story. I’d even prepared myself to come home and attempt to re-sit if I was still unhappy at Christmas. And I’ll admit, I came close.

But thanks to a few select friends I felt that I couldn’t just leave. I didn’t make it easy on myself of course, first year Siarlot was still coming to terms with the idea that people could become your friends with no malicious ulterior motives (thanks bullies — you know who you are). I’d joined societies and clubs, formed attachments.

So I stuck it out until the end of the year. I found future housemates, who’d help to make second year a uni highlight. And after that it just got better. After first year I opened up more, made friends on my course, had great nights out with my housemates and taekwondo buddies.

I had an unforgettable year abroad, and even though most have my friends had graduated and moved on, it didn’t put me off. I kept in touch with the friends who had stuck around, and made new ones. I met my boyfriend of over a year now. He was grinning maniacally and holding medieval weaponry. (Re-enactors have the best meet-cutes).

I had an unforgettable year abroad, and even though most have my friends had graduated and moved on, it didn’t put me off

Then I graduated, and I considered moving on. But in the end I stuck around. Why? Well, to be honest, I have no idea who I would have been if not for Sunderland Uni. I’d still probably be a massive nerd, I’d still probably have some of the same friends from home. But ultimately, Sunderland shaped, made me who I am today and I have a life in the North East because of it.

Sure, it’s not perfect, and there are days I wish I could throw it all in to become a recluse somewhere mountainous and remote, but honestly, uni has been the best part of my life so far. Just because I didn’t choose it, just because my life didn’t turn out the way 18 year old had spent months meticulously planning (somewhat unrealistically now that I look back on it) doesn’t mean I’m not happy and grateful for.

Plus you know, I don’t think I would have a beach 2 minutes’ walk from my flat in Sheffield either. So you know, that helps.

So to any sixth formers out there feeling lost or down because they didn’t get the grades they wanted, don’t despair. At the end of the day, your uni experience is what you make of it.

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