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'Mum...I didn't get in...'

By Tilly Rose

Loads of you have been in touch with questions about decision day over the last few weeks and the one that keeps coming up again and again is...

'How do I tell people if I don't get in?'

I remember this feeling well. Everyone knew I'd applied, everyone knew my heart was set on Oxford and everyone kept telling me I'd get in because 'I was clever'.

Yet, most of the people who said that, whilst only trying to be kind and encouraging, didn't really know how the Oxford Uni system worked. They didn't know that only around 6 people for each subject at each college got in. They didn't think about the fact I was competing with the rest of the world. They didn't know that being 'clever' simply wasn't enough; everyone who applied was clever. Rather than those words being encouraging they felt like a massive pressure; I was not only going to be gutted if I didn't get in but I was going to have to break the news to everyone around me. That was not going to be fun.

So, how best to handle this?

* Explain how the Oxford system works to those around you beforehand- you've been through it but let's face it, from the outside it's so complicated. A few months ago you probably weren't aware of just how tough, long and rigorous the process was. Tell your friends and family what it entailed and let them see that reaching interview is a HUGE achievement.

* Talk about your interview experience beforehand - share some of the questions you were asked. Let your friends and family see this is no ordinary university application.

*Tell them what you'd like from them beforehand - maybe it's acknowledgement that it will feel rubbish if you don't get in, maybe you'd like them to help you with other options or maybe you'd like a distraction. Whatever you feel will be your way of dealing with it is fine but share it with those around you.

* Share the news in YOUR way - if you'd rather drop your friends a whatsapp, call them up or tell them at school, this is 100% your choice. You might want to talk and rant and get it all of your chest or you might just want a little bit of 'me' time to collect your thoughts. Do it YOUR way.

* Expect to hear about people who have got in - if you know other people who have applied, it's likely some of you will have got in and others may not. It's likely those who have been offered places will be super excited and be chatting away about it. If you need a little space from this, tell them you're really happy for them but you're finding it a bit tough and if needs be, create a bit of distance for a few days.

* Get some advice - you might now be considering other options, reapplying? Accepting other unis? Taking a gap year? Sit down and discuss this with someone and be HONEST about how you feel. Is Oxford 100% your life-long dream? Say it. Are you actually quite excited at the thought of your other options? Say it. Do you need some guidance on next steps? Ask! This can be dropping the TOG team a message, speaking to a teacher, a friend, relative - anyone who you feel can give you some useful tips on navigating your journey.

If the worst case scenario is a 'no' on 14th then that isn't going to be fun but I always think it's good to acknowledge the absolute worst case situation and then work back from it. If that's the worst possible outcome, you can prep for how to deal with it and what your next steps will look like and you might just find this new path turns out to the be best of all (though I know it may not seem like it initially...).

Sending loads of good vibes!


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