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Second Time Lucky

FreshersStudentsTips and Advice

I liked school, but from GCSE onwards all I wanted to do was go to university. I slogged away at my A-levels and poured over my UCAS utterly convinced that university was going to be this fantastic new chapter. All the adults in my life echoing the same sentiments; they are the best years of your life.

So, when I got the A-level results I had been hoping for and was accepted into my first-choice university I thought that my life was complete and all my wishes had come true. Unfortunately, that was not the reality. I didn't walk into my halls and instantly find my kindred spirit or my soul mates. I was both over and underwhelmed by my lectures. I was not confident enough to "throw myself in" to everything in Freshers week and have these crazy experiences that evoked a steadfast bond with my peers.

In short, I felt like I had been fed a lie, except it seemed to be everybody else's truth.

I looked around me and saw students around me laughing and enjoying themselves. Social media reiterated my feelings of jealousy and exclusion with video after video and picture after picture of the so longed for #studentlife. All of this evidence confirmed that there was something wrong with me.

Luckily, I have incredibly supportive parents and when I plucked up the courage to confess how I was feeling they agreed to let me leave. I felt like I had let them and myself down.

I cannot tell you how wrong I was. It was a difficult but brave decision made with my self-knowledge and wellbeing at the heart of it. After a "gap six months" travelling, working and interning I had so much more to bring to the table when I was ready to embark the world of university again- albeit at a different university.


When I started again these were the (not to be underestimated) perks:

  • Applying to university with your results already is so much less stressful

I had sat A Levels, and the excruciating wait for results meant that I only knew for sure that I had got in to university first time round about two weeks before Freshers Week! The uncertainty meant that my summer holiday was not restful or relaxing, instead berated with constant discussions about back up plans and clearing.

  • I had more realistic expectations

Rather than assuming that it was going to be the "BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE" and that I was going to meet my soul mates on the first day, I went in with a clearer head and was pleasantly surprised that with patience and without pressure that I had previously been putting on myself and the experience, most of my dreams for the student experience came true in the end!

  •  I was more confident and prepared

I was more ready for what was coming and that gave me reassuring confidence. The "gap six months" had also given me more experiences. As someone who hadn't really been exposed to alcohol or partying, my first university experience was really intimidating. Having travelled and grown up a bit I was more comfortable and was able to enjoy Freshers week rather than feel terrified and self-conscious.

  • It gave me time to make sure I was making the right choices for me

Having experienced university once, I had a clearer picture of what I wanted. What subject I was interested in, whether I wanted to be at a campus or town university, and what I wanted to get out of the experience!

At the risk of sounding cliché, I have to say that in the end, what I was certain would be the most humiliating failure of my young life, turned out to be a great learning experience and safe to say my second experience of University was everything I had hoped for and more. 


Enjoyed reading this? Read Essential advice you didn't learn at University here. Or Why Changing University isn't the end of the World here. 

GRB Blog Author and Student - Katie Hughes

Katie is a final year History student at the University of St Andrews who wants to pursue a marketing career

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