Written by Mackenzie Brook, BA Art

Results day is fast approaching and, for anyone in Year 13, it can be a very stressful time, especially if you are awaiting results that will hopefully get you into your chosen university. However, when results day came around for myself and many others, it didn’t all go to plan and I didn’t get the results I’d been hoping for. As a result, I wasn’t given my firm choice, but my insurance choice , the University of Reading.

On opening UCAS and realising that I hadn’t gotten into my first-choice university, it was upsetting. Yes, I did cry, and yes, I did feel disappointed, but after letting the news sink in, I took a step back and remembered why I had made Reading my insurance choice. It wasn’t just because the required grades were lower. It was because I could see myself here when I attended the Open Day; I loved the course, accommodation, the town and the overall atmosphere.

There are many people in the same boat as you, so don’t panic if you don’t get your first-choice university. Sure, there are a few things you’ll need to do, but soon enough you’ll be ready and prepared for this change.

  1. Take a moment to celebrate

    First things first, breathe and congratulate yourself! You still got into university, which is an amazing achievement. Go out and celebrate – all the admin and sorting regarding the change of university can wait until the following day.

  2. Make arrangements

    There are a few things you will need to do, starting with letting student finance know about the change so your student loan gets paid to the right university. Then, as you will likely have organised accommodation for your firm-choice university and not the insurance choice, you will need to apply for this as soon as you can. It’s important to make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting accommodation that you’ll be happy staying in, as nobody wants to be unhappy in their halls or house – after all, it’s where you end up spending the most time.

  3. Do your research

    Next, I would do some research: double-check what your course involves, have a look at the modules to see if there are any pre-tasks or reading lists that you need to do before term starts. It’s always good to get a head start as Welcome Week is a busy two weeks.

    I would also think about getting personal insurance for items such as your laptop and phone. The University of Reading is a very safe place; nevertheless, you don’t want to misplace these things when they will probably have all your work on them. Additionally, I would think about registering for the University’s doctors and local dentists – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

  4. Create a home away from home

    All that is pretty essential stuff, but now you’re onto the exciting part. Go shopping for all your essentials: kitchen appliances, stationery, bedding, fun ornaments to make your room feel more like home. Make this part enjoyable – go with friends or family, to celebrate leaving home (and probably living independently for the first time), and enjoy your last few weeks together. However, it’s useful to check whether there are any small but important details about your new accommodation, e.g. what hobs are in the kitchen. I was in Childs Halls and had to get pans that worked on induction hobs, which I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t double-check this.

  5. Join the community or Get involved

    Finally, start joining Reading University’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, where you will be able to find course mates, flat mates and also buy fresher’s bands. I advise getting these in advance, as they are cheaper and essential to get involved in the activities happening within your halls in the first two weeks. Trust me, you will have the best time!

Starting University is a new and challenging but unique experience. Make sure to enjoy it, find new friends, and join as many sports teams and societies as you like. You will learn new culinary skills, witness some odd eating habits and probably come down with the dreaded ‘fresher’s flu’ – even if you aren’t a big drinker, everyone, somehow, seems to get it.

You will look back on your university experience with more good memories than bad, regardless of it being your second choice.