The whole reason I am here is due to a dangerous case of eenie meenie miney mo. I am here purely down to fate and dodgy decision-making.
To give some background, I am both not entirely smart, but not entirely dumb. I was, more importantly, very cocky. At GCSE, I managed to get A’s with a very minimal amount of work and a disbelief in homework, and I thought I could recreate this ease and success in A Levels. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate I had already reached the peak of my existence.
Throughout first year, I was predicted AAA. That suited me fine. With this promise, I took to UCAS and scoured the country for any university that was a far enough away from my parents in Birmingham, so I had Lancaster, Bristol, Loughborough, Exeter, and the mighty Southampton on my list. My course of choice was Philosophy with a year abroad because I wanted an enviable instagram so I chopped away at any that didn’t fit. When I looked, they all had the same requirements of AAB so I eenie meenied and Southampton placed first. Only then did I see that Southampton actually required ABB and hoped that I hadn’t shot myself in the foot by putting all my eggs unnecessarily in one basket.
However, this was in the days where Maths was split with an AS after the first year, and you cannot imagine how much a single piece of paper had rocked me to my core. Despite my stellar 98 in Decision Mathematics that I am still holding on to, I got a B overall. Fuming. “That’s it,” I thought to myself. “I’m not good at Maths anymore. If I can’t work out the sheer simplicity of first-year A Level Maths without using only my brain, then what is the actual entire point of doing this? I am not going to bother staying in a course that I am destined to fail.”
The absolute chad that I was marched straight into Head of Sixth Form’s office (after crying in a toilet for about an hour) and demanded something be done. “I can’t do Maths. I simply cannot.” Miss Lloyd, bless her soul, did not want me to do what I wanted to do, but I was a terribly compulsive and an incredibly dodgy decision-maker, so there was little that could be done. “Please,” I urged, “you must let me swap to Drama.”
It was a weird time for me. I was enrolled in both first and second year drama classes so I could finish within one year, but I was obviously still very cocky and thought it was going to be an absolute breeze. I met lots of new people who were awed by my bravery, and I confidently joined groups and came up with performance ideas. However, there was yet another thing I hadn’t anticipated. My bust-up with Maths brought a wave of fear, mostly of failure, but also of people knowing I failed. In other words, performance anxiety. After putting off even practising the piece that was basically dodgy teenage fairy-tale porn, I dropped out of Drama, and went crawling back to Miss Lloyd hoping that she’d have another solution.
I was allowed back onto Maths, but as it was November, the classes had covered almost every topic. I was in need of tutoring which, in respect to myself, I did turn up to and I even did work at home. For once, I was asking people who were smarter than me for help and actually listening. I was going to be fine, secure that B (which I found out was not a bad grade at all, who knew?), and end up where I wanted to go.
Then, real life shit hit the fan. I can’t divulge too much information, but on Saturday night there were police at the door at 2am and the Monday morning I had my first exam.
I got U’s in two exams, which gave me a D overall in Maths. That could have been fine, except it was paired with B’s in English Literature and Psychology, so I was quite a far way off meeting requirements.
I had chosen to defer my start date anyway, but now I was deferring indefinitely, since I had received a tasty rejection email. Our Sixth Form organised exit meetings with all students, so when it was my turn, I confidently burst into tears again. I think I spoke non-stop for an hour in that disgusting sobby voice while Miss Lloyd sat with her mouth open and a pen in her hand. Despite setting myself up to almost fail, I really had failed, but not because it was my fault. I hustled, I made revision cards, I asked person-who-knows-they-are-very-smart-and-talks-down-to-you-slightly to help me, and yet, rejection. As she had always done, Miss Lloyd did some things.
It was just some random morning when I was walking around at home singing Paulo Nutini to my dogs because what else was there for a failure to do, when I received a call from the South. Due to the circumstances surrounding my exam period and because I had selected Southampton as my Firm Choice, they were happy to grant my application. Four years later, coronavirus killed my year abroad and I got my 2:1 and left.
To answer the question, “Why did I chose Southampton?”: I didn’t.
There are lots of things bad about this university, as there probably are about most of them, but I’m not disappointed in the slightest with where I ended up. It’s not like I have any other legs to stand on, but I’m glad I didn’t choose Southampton. I am grateful it chose me.