The Cambridge decision

Dear Keron, we regret to inform you that your application to read Natural Sciences at Cambridge University has been unsuccessful were the words I feared I’d receive yesterday.


The image above – aptly linked to me by a user on a forum I use – is a good representation of my emotional state prior to obtaining a decision. I alternated between feeling disappointed and elated, often feeling both emotions simultaneously in a weird jumble of feeling.

I was strangely not extremely anxious when I awoke yesterday morning. The prospective email weighed on my mind, of course, however there was a certain calm which helped keep me sane. I think knowing that the wait would be over in some hours allowed me to keep it all together.

I spent the morning refreshing both my emails and UCAS track. It was a futile exercise I discovered. After calling to enquire, I was told by the college I applied to that their email would arrive in the afternoon. Even if this were not the case, my email would have updated automatically if anything arrived. I was simply wasting time and clicks. Irrational behaviour!

My phone’s LED notification light bleeped continuously as people on the Cambridge applicant page on Facebook updated the group with their decisions. My heart sank a little each time checking the phone revealed a notification which was not the email I was awaiting and I debated disconnecting for a few hours and focusing on work. Soon though, around 1pm, my phone buzzed. I glanced at the gmail tab on my PC noting that there was an advertising message in my inbox. I unlocked the phone to delete the message and check to see there were any active conversations to relieve my boredom. A preview for the email scrolled across the top. I read it absent mindedly – believing it to be the spam email I’d seen on my PC.

Dear Keron, Thank you for your application to the University of Cambridge. I am pleased to inform you that we are making you a conditional offer of a place to read for a B.A Hons in Natural Sciences read the preview. It took me few moments to register what I’d just read. Barely daring to hope, I viewed the full thing on PC. It was genuine. I had been offered a place! I audibly said “omg, omg, omg!” not caring whether the others in the room heard me; breaking into a wide, profuse grin after verifying that the sender was real and not some cruel prankster.

I was awash with a feeling of pride and relief. I felt happy and grateful that the University thought I was capable of meeting the high offer they’d set. The feeling still remains with me now, though I have settled back to my more neutral mindset. Thankfully, the self-doubt and lack of confidence I’ve been experiencing appears to have  mostly dissipated. As my on-paper grades were sub par, I recognise that the decision must have been based significantly on my interview which would imply I came across as bright and as if I had some potential. It is very satisfying and good for the self esteem – even one as shattered as mine.

I’ve now told most of those closest to me the news and am thankful to those who made me apply even when I was extremely sceptical of my chances. I just hope I can make the grades!


Exams, disappointments and applying to University

On the 13th of August, 2015 I received the grades for my resat A-levels. Eager to deliver the bad news, the exams officer sent her email of disappointment in the early hours of that unfortunate Thursday morning. It nagged at me for the hours to come until I finally decided to rip the band-aid off and confront the marks. I was aghast to discover that my performance was consistently poorer than the atrocious marks of the previous year. Admittedly, I had been growing increasingly despondent however even the most pessimistic of my predicted eventualities was not as bleak as reality.

The next few days were filled with thoughts of self-pity, acts of self-indulgence and a surprising amount of motivation as I began to think about alternative courses. Despite joking to a friend that my inability to apply for Medicine at this point in my life would lead to a life in a minimum wage job, I had no intention of not studying.

But what to choose? 

This was a difficult decision. There was no obvious answer for me. I felt equally dispassionate about most fields of study as my focus had been so centred on Medicine for the previous few years. I tried consulting various friends but soon realised that the decision was too personal; one that could not be delegated to another.

I hate essays and for this and other reasons, I realised that I strongly favoured the STEM fields over the arts and humanities.

Great! Now just half as many choices…

After much consideration, I narrowed my choices to Mathematics (with Music), Computer Science and the various Biological Sciences. I finally settled upon Mathematics only to have a complete change of heart and choose Biological Sciences once I realised I lacked the aptitude, finesse and requisite interest to make it through an undergraduate Mathematics degree.

My UCAS application was a pain to complete due to the amount of data entry required and writing and perfecting my Personal Statement was no useful task but I managed to get it all sent off by the end of September; obtaining acknowledgements from my 5 chosen Universities on the 2nd of October.