Updates and Universities

Alas, we find ourselves at the end of the summer holidays, and with it, the impending onset of various schools and universities. I hope the summer was relaxing and enjoyable for my readers, and that the upcoming year awaits many adventures and challenges. The typical summer post will be up at some point when I get round to writing it, but for now, due to the way I have slightly over-dramatised my very first-world problem of choosing between universities, my friends and teachers have naturally been asking me where I ended up. The story is a more complicated one – as it always seems to be – and is probably worth a look at.

The results of the UK A-Level exams are released on August 13th of the year the examination was taken. Universities see these results and depending on the conditional offer made back in March, they will either confirm or reject your place at that university. Cambridge had given me an unusually tough A-Level offer and asked additionally for a “one” in STEP I — the Sixth Term Examination Paper 1 is a challenging additional mathematics exam usually sat by mathematicians. For an Engineering applicant, this offer was unorthodox. When the results came in on the 13th, I was happy to see that I had achieved the desired A-Level grades; however, I had missed the STEP offer and only scored a “two”, which meant that I was now at the mercy of the admissions officers as to whether I would be accepted or not. Sadly, when I called to find out what was going on, my college at Cambridge had pooled me, as they had filled up their spaces with people who had made their offer.

The summer pool is where applicants who “deserve a place” but cannot be admitted by the original college are placed. Other colleges can come and fish applicants out of this pool — it is quite literally a table with lots of files pilled on top of each other and a mad free-for-all between colleges! Unfortunately, no college fished me out. So now I was left with an offer from Imperial College London to start immediately and one from Harvard University to start in 2016 (“Oh woe is me!”, joked my friends).

I decided that, as my grades are still good enough, that I would take a Gap Year, reapply to Cambridge and Imperial, and look into financing for Harvard — whose tuition fees are currently prohibitively expensive. Either way I am extraordinarily lucky to be in the situation I am in now, and although this gap year decision was reached rather quickly, I hope that I will be able to make good use of it, be that by learning a new language, working or by improving my maths. I am looking into perhaps going to China to learn Mandarin, or South America to learn Spanish, but the year is still young, so we shall see what will happen!

In any case, I find myself in an unexpected situation: something I have not found myself in for a decent amount of time, and although it may not be what I was expecting, or indeed, wanted, I will aim to make the most of it!


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