‘A-Level Disappointment to a First Class Degree – How Clearing Changed my Life’

Nicole Hall confirmed a place on BA Business and Management at KBS through Clearing in 2018 after missing out on one grade for an accounting apprenticeship. She went on to secure a First Class Degree and a competitive graduate role at Amazon.

“Going on holiday with 22 family members was never going to be forgettable. But, back in 2018, that idyllic break in the sunshine was etched in my memory for all of the wrong reasons.

Although being in the Jamaican heat with everyone I loved was perfect, it was the week that I was getting the call about my apprenticeship role at one of the Big Four accounting firms in London. My mum was a successful investment manager and my siblings studied accounting and business at prestigious universities; therefore, it was a path I felt was laid out for me. However, just weeks before my holiday, I had received my A-level results and was left very disappointed with one grade.

The firm had led me to believe I still had a good chance of getting the apprenticeship I’d pushed so hard to secure, including a lengthy application process and several gruelling rounds of interviews. But, that day, as I soaked up the sun and hoped for the best, my phone rang and I was told, plainly, I’d lost my place.

The humiliation was unbearable. I shut myself away in tears and mum told my family to give me some space. The five minutes that followed felt like hours as my brain, heavy with negativity, couldn’t process what I needed to do next. Thankfully, this painful limbo was broken by the buzz of my phone ringing again.

Nicole loved the history of the Medway Campus – including the extensive Drill Hall library

“Hi, Nicole – it’s Steve from Kent Business School,” said a voice. “We are calling to see if you still want your space at the University of Kent halls of residence.” My heart thumped in my chest. I had almost forgotten about applying through Clearing with the help of my dad as a safety net. But, in that moment, this felt like a sign.

Kent had been incredibly helpful from start to finish when I applied as a backup after the shock of results day. I had known people who had been to the Business School and had gone on to secure good jobs and The Medway Campus was close to London, where my family live. Then and there, I secured my place to study Business and Management with a Year in Industry, living at Liberty Quays (now Pier Quays), it felt surreal.

The first time I saw campus was at the start of term, in Welcome Week. It was everything I hoped it would be, the Dockyard was a hidden gem with a great close-knit feel and some beautiful historical buildings like the Drill Hall Library.

On my first day I noticed a girl I knew from back home – I had no idea she was doing the same course! We instantly became close – studying, partying and playing sport together throughout university. That really helped me to settle in.

Some of Nicole’s favourite memories are with the University netball team (pictured)

Business and Management is such a far-ranging course I got to learn about so many avenues of industry. European Business and Enterprise were my favourite modules, as I learnt so many new things.

I’ve always loved netball and was on the Medway Universities’ first team, competing in many competitions and often travelling to the Canterbury campus for games, so I felt I got the best of both unique spaces at Kent.

My inner child was over the moon when I managed to secure a Year in Industry at The Walt Disney Company as a retail supply chain intern. The selection process was hard, but I was assisted by the employability team who helped me plan a presentation and ran a series of mock interviews. The year confirmed in my mind that supply chain management was an area of business I was very interested in as it seemed to just come naturally to me.

I applied for several graduate job roles in October 2021 and went through an intense process to get a job, including a three-hour interview. In November I was offered the role as a New Accounts Graduate Manager, at Amazon.

Having kept a tracker of all my grades for the year, I wasn’t sure what my final grade would actually be. Everything was riding on my exams. When I logged on to the results page and scanned for my name it took a few moments to process the fact that I’d done it – I got a First!

Nicole’s graduation ceremony was in Rochester Cathedral

Graduation was just incredible. Standing there, in my gown on the backdrop of the grandeur of Rochester Cathedral holding my certificate was just indescribable.  I even received two special awards for academic achievement during the ceremony, the Dr Gerado Abreu Pederzini Award and Elsatex Product Design Prize Award.

I want to tell other students going through Clearing, please don’t give up. I’m living proof that it’ll all be okay in the end and if it’s not okay it’s not the end! Clearing changed my life forever and for the better.”

Looking to apply to the University of Kent through Clearing? Click here.

Not sure which course to choose? Check out Kent Business School’s wide ranging Undergraduate options here.

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