I missed my offer for my dream place at the University of Birmingham, but I still got in. The secret? Networking. Good-old fashioned networking; as simple as that.
Before results day came, I had carefully built a relationship with the course lead. Because they knew more about me than just my application, they were reassured that I was capable of performing well on their course, despite missing their offer. It helped me and it could help you too. Here’s how.
1. Make the most of open days
I went to an open day at the beginning of October with my parents. Neither of my folks went to uni so this was a whole new experience for them too. My dad has a business background so it’s natural for him to see the value in networking and building connections with people. I had to handle retakes while doing my A-levels; my dad really encouraged me to be brave and talk to the course lead about my situation.
If you've missed the initial open day make sure you get yourself to the offer holder open days, this is a also a brilliant opportunity to network and start building relationships
2. Submit your uni application and crack on with your studies
Because I had retakes to deal with my strategy was to submit my application as early as possible in the autumn so that I could focus on nailing my grades.
I did receive an offer relatively quickly from Birmingham which meant I knew what I was aiming for.
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Eight questions you must ask on an open day
3. Keep in touch with your university
Having received an offer, my dad and I decided to visit another open day to re-connect with the course tutor. This felt especially important because I had just found out I had to retake an AS exam alongside my A2 exams. I was prepared to do everything to ensure that it wouldn’t impact my year two exams but at the same time I did feel wary that it might affect me reaching my offer.
But then my grandma passed away after a really long battle with dementia. I was absolutely heartbroken; managing grief alongside studying hard put even more pressure on my application.
This meant I couldn’t attend the open day as planned. I emailed the course lead, explaining my situation and asking I could visit another time. She was really supportive and we agreed a date.
This meeting was an absolute game-changer for me. I explained about the AS exam retake and at the same time told her I had just aced my sociology globalisation module with an A*. I hadn’t dropped a mark. I think it demonstrated that I was a capable student who was really focused on doing the best I could.
She told me that, whatever happened on results day, they would take my drama AS retake into consideration. In her opinion it would be a shame for me to miss my place on their history course based on a subject unrelated to my future study.
Results day and beyond
I missed my offer by one grade in drama. Track didn’t exist when I applied, so we had to call the university to check on my application. I broke all the rules by asking my folks to make the call (don’t do this - make the call yourself). Finding out that I had my place was a huge relief; my hard work and networking had paid off.
Re-taking GCSEs and an AS-level wasn’t at all easy during my A-levels, but in a strange way it was a blessing. I might not have been the most academically bright applicant but my work ethic was relentless; I had set my heart on Birmingham and I was going to get there.
It’s easy to view a retake as a weakness but actually it provided me an opportunity to build a relationship with the university and demonstrated to them how committed I was.
Their faith in me paid off, I graduated with a first in my dissertation and 2:1 overall, performing at the same level as my straight-A peers.