“Success is always possible with hard work and determination” – What coming to University has taught me

View of the west wing of Templeman Library, University of Kent, in sunlight
  "View of the west wing of Templeman Library" by University of Kent.

Eve Michell is the Social Media Ambassador for the School of Anthropology and Conservation, employed through Kent’s Work-Study scheme.

“Earlier this August, an article by BA Environmental Social Sciences student Katie Hargrave-Smith about A Level results was published on the School of Anthropology and Conservation’s (SAC) news blog. As the current Social Media Ambassador for SAC, part of my job is to read through every blog post, news summary and press release to whittle them down to 280 characters in order to promote across our social media channels. I must have read at least one hundred of these articles since I started this job in February, but Katie’s article in particular struck a chord. In her heartfelt piece, she speaks about missing her grades for her chosen university, and the feelings of failure that arose from that experience.

“Five years ago, I went through the exact same thing. I had gone to Oxford for an interview, which turned into three interviews, received an offer from Brasenose College and then, on results day, before I even got my actual A-Level results, I found out that I had not achieved the necessary grades. Logging onto my laptop at 7 am to find that out felt like a punch in the stomach. I had selected my back up choice of the University of Birmingham on a whim and, long story short, after a year of studying a course I didn’t get on with, a good 160 miles away from my family and home, I dropped out.

“Dropping out felt like even more of a failure than missing my A-Level grades, and I spent a few months feeling directionless and, well, bored. My parents encouraged me to apply to university again, this time more local, and so I applied to their alma mater, the University of Kent. Rather than applying for German like I did the first time, I went with English Literature and Creative Writing, as English was my best A-Level grade. I applied to humour my parents before going off to Switzerland for four months to work as an au pair.

“When I got back, my lovely dad took me on a tour of the campus, showing me all the spots relating to stories about his time at University, ending with a cup of coffee in Darwin College’s bar Origins. As I sat listening to my Dad trying to persuade me that I should try uni again, I stared out of the window at the view of campus and something – maybe the baby bunnies hopping around or the huge, calming green space – made me start to imagine myself there. By the time we got home, I had decided that I might as well give it a go.

Aerial view of the Kent campus.
Aerial view of the Kent campus.

“I graduated this summer with a First Class degree, but I got so much more out of it than just that. I gained work experience, working first as a kitchen porter in a pub, then as a zero-waste greengrocer at Unboxed Kent and, finally, as SAC’s Social Media Ambassador. I made friends from far and wide, and attended all sorts of events put on by the Circus Society, Beetbox, Optics Society and more. I spent frantic, sleepless nights in the library, working right up until a deadline, and I spent lazy days reading and researching, preparing for assignments weeks in advance. I also learnt to ask for help when I needed it and helped others out too.

“Overall, the last three years have been life changing. I have transformed from somebody who felt like a failure, ruminating on past mistakes and disappointments, to somebody who knows that their best is good enough, and success is always possible with hard work and determination. The University of Kent will always have a special place in my heart, and I am forever grateful to my parents who encouraged me to apply and give university another go.”

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