what will be will be

9th January 2019

and it wasn’t meant to be. And I kind of saw it coming. And that’s okay. I was gutted this morning. But who wouldn’t be?

So I got rejected from Oxford.

Of course I would love to say I’m going to be studying there this October, but one of my resolutions this was to be not to focus on ‘what could’ve been’ and focus on what’s in front of me. I had this in mind with the imminent response from Oxford and I honestly am not thinking about what could have been, I’m thinking about what is.

Education for me became the escape from the reality I didn’t necessarily want to partake in. Thus, it assumed the position of a consuming activity that in part has damaged my mental health and in part brought me everything and more to a life that may have continued in dull succession. Education is the lifeline that kept pumping new knowledge into my body like blood. Without it; who would I be? What is the ultimate goal for such an education junkie? Some may consider that Oxbridge. I think I see it differently now.

To me it came to be that working so hard for your A levels was only justified if you got to Oxford because that’s the best you can get and what’s the point in getting the best grade in the exam if you’re not going to the best university? That’s not the case. It can’t be the case. Après rejection, I think: to what extent was that the driving force for getting good results? I was talking to my friend Ellie about the whole process and she questioned that: ‘Did I really want Oxford? Or did I want the feeling it hypothetically gave me?’ I think maybe it was both, I honestly did love the course and the whole idea of the Oxford experience but I think it went beyond the notion that ‘I’d quite like to go here’, maybe I internalised the idea that such a path is the only path to being a better student academically or it would require going there in order to flourish in life.

Upon reflection, and I’ve been doing a lot lately, I don’t think that is the case. I never stepped into this process with Oxford being the only route that I could take, despite the whole ‘Oxford dream’ complex. My back-up plan is now coming into fruition and I am not, in the slightest, sad about it. In fact, my rejection from Oxford is a pretty positive one. Such is the way of life that we face rejection, this is the first big one. I can officially say I am an Oxford reject and in itself that is an achievement. But it is more than that. I can’t fathom how draining this whole process has been, you put so much of yourself into applying, so much time (SO MUCH TIME) that may seem like it was wasted. Honestly, it was a step to a greater understanding of myself as a person. Because it is and it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.

Through applying to Oxford, I read new books, fell in love with Renaissance history, fell in LOVE with French literature, met Erin at interviews, met the girls from Geneva from work experience at interviews, have made better friends with my online pals, realised what I really want to be doing with my life. One of the best parts of interviews was becoming friends with Anya, my college is so huge so not everyone knows everyone and I only met Anya through the whole Oxbridge process but if you’re reading this Anya, you’re a great pal and I can’t wait to go to Berlin next month 😉 I’m able to answer more University Challenge answers and have some pretty cool historical knowledge that is beyond the confines of my A level. Through my subsequent rejection, I’ve learnt that the act of rejection doesn’t define you, but how you deal with it.

So, what if I’m not going there this year? That doesn’t sequester my worth in any way. Because I’ve learnt (or am learning) that life doesn’t always go to plan and you’ve got to make new plans. Oxford was the dream but it wasn’t the only university I had my heart set on.

Yes, this morning I may have been a little sad, but I was kind of expecting it and a month after interviews is time to reflect and to consider where I want to go and what is really right for me. I thought Oxford was right for me purely because of the lifeline that education and learning has given me and the hours spent at a desk when I should have been going out with friends. But really it was the alternative. I chose education because I had too much time to fill and I didn’t know what to fill it with. It was fulfilling. But there is more to life than knowledge and facts and figures and the past year has taught me that. I think not getting into to Oxford is the prevention I need to break the cycle of work, work, work because I’ve compromised myself as a result. I love learning, don’t get me wrong, but there is a point where it can become unhealthy. I genuinely think this is a positive thing.

What next? Bristol is going to be my firm I think, with Edinburgh being my insurance. I’m not planning on taking a gap year because although this post may heavily suggest I need a break from the education system I know in my heart I could not take over a year off. This summer is going to be what I need as a break and I’m already visualising it in the distance. I also know that if I take a gap year it would be just to reapply. I couldn’t go through this process again. I know that if I got rejected a second time this post would look a wholeee lot different. We’re onto better things.

If you got rejected from Oxbridge, I’m sorry. If you got accepted then congratulations! You should be so proud of yourself and everything that you’ve achieved thus far, but likewise if you didn’t get in, you should be incredibly proud. It’s hard, you’ll get through this. Have a little cry, be sad and then move on because great things are ahead and what about the path not taken?

lots of love, eleanor xx

10th January 2019 – I wrote this post on the day of rejection so I feel like there was still some residual angst in conjunction with a tinge of sadness. A day has passed. My mental health is the best it has been than in the past month. I know it was the right decision (and I got the raw data about how I did in parts of the process and I impressed myself! Little achievements guys). I’m excited about the future.

If you’re reading this post due to the R word of rejection then here are a few other resources that may help ease the pain:

The Road not Taken by Robert Frost is one of my favourites, it really encapsulates that after a rejection a different path lies ahead (even though it isn’t necessarily about rejection itself).

Dalal’s much more eloquent and concisely written rejection post from Oxford

Unjaded Jade’s video

Ruby Granger’s video

Jack Edward’s video about one year on

15 Comments

  1. tash ketel 10th January 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this Eleanor! You expressed exactly how I also feel – an awareness of what could have been but also an excitement for what will come instead. It wasn’t the right path for us and that is okay. [Maybe even a blessing in disguise!?]

    Reply
    1. eleanorclaudie 10th January 2019 at 8:21 pm

      That’s okay Tash! And you’re right, it wasn’t. And definitely, most probably it will be a blessing in disguise! x

      Reply
  2. Cara 10th January 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I completely feel you with the whole it’s-Oxbridge-or-nothing mindset but thank goodness we’ve both moved past that. I’ve already told you how proud I am for you to have even interviewed, and it’s just another thing to put down to experience – onwards and upwards, always 😉

    Reply
  3. Dalal Tahira 10th January 2019 at 10:18 pm

    The whole Oxbridge being the pinnacle of further education is skewed and I’m glad that we’re realising it now. You’ve dealt with the rejection so well (far better than I did at least) and I’m so happy that you’re looking onwards and upwards. Bristol is an amazing university, as is Edinburgh, and either institution would be lucky to have you there. Plus, Bristol is such a cool and hip (ew) city so there’s lots to do there seeing as you won’t be drowning in as much work as you would be if you’d gone to Oxford (and you’re only an hour away from Exe ;)) Wishing you the best of luck and I have all faith in you Eleanor!!!

    Love from Dalal
    dalaltahira.com

    Reply
  4. Jasmine 10th January 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Reading this made me far more emotional than I normally care to admit. You definitely can’t go through the Oxbridge process without learning a lot about yourself and it’s clear that you are an example of someone taking full advantage of this. I think this says more about one’s character than any piece of paper will. I’ve admired you from afar for your love of learning *simply for learning’s sake* and I’m looking forward to your university content regardless! You are the ideal university student no matter where you go and I know that , not just in spite of this decision but because of it, an incredible, colourful life is waiting for you!

    One of the Geneva gals ( the best one lol)

    Reply
  5. Erin Grace 12th January 2019 at 3:41 pm

    I took a few days to reflect and take in my own rejection before returning to your post to comment, and I am so so glad you have taken so much positivity from the experience of not getting in. Bristol (or Edinburgh), will be incredibly lucky to have you and you will have the best time there. Finding out I didn’t get in was weird, while I was out at college I only focused on what I had gained and the experiences I would now have going to UCL, rather than what I had lost by not going to Oxford. Eventually it all dawned on me which was not a wonderful moment, but because, similar to you I have a fab backup plan, I feel really secure in the fact Oxford is not the be all and end all. I think even though you may have not got in, even applying to Oxford you have gained so much, and I am so glad the whole process gave me the chance to meet you! We definitely have to see each other again soon, maybe we should form an Oxford reject club 😉 x

    Erin // Everything Erin

    Reply
  6. katie 13th January 2019 at 8:57 am

    I love how eloquent this is, Eleanor, and how level headed and rational you are. It’s no mark of your worth and the reputation it fosters is honestly ridiculous. You’ll flourish wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and it’ll be the right path for you. Still hoping we can meet up in 2019, especially if you go to Bristol!!! lots of love xxx

    Reply
  7. Meagan 13th January 2019 at 8:07 pm

    This is wonderful. I love that you focused on what you have learned and what you have gained from the process rather than focusing on not getting accepted. This is such an important thing to be able to do.

    Reply
    1. eleanorclaudie 13th January 2019 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you Megan! It means a lot 🙂

      Reply
  8. Amie Cadwallader 13th January 2019 at 8:12 pm

    I’m so sorry you didn’t get into Oxford, but it could be a blessing in disguise and it could be one of the best things to happen to you! It’s their loss because you would have been incredible there, and they would have been so lucky to have you!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    Reply
    1. eleanorclaudie 13th January 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you Amie! I hope it is 🙂 x

      Reply
  9. Julie 13th January 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this very honest and reflective post. I enjoyed the read even though I could sense some disappointment. Perhaps your educational journey has some surprises in store for you, and well done for not letting the no majorly weigh you down!

    Reply
  10. Georgia 13th January 2019 at 8:27 pm

    Hello Eleanor.

    Your post is beautiful and real, which I love. I was also rejected from a University that I was hoping for. But I ended up going to one which I ended up loving. I’m in fourth year now and I’ve met my amazing life partner, great friends and truly found a belonging in life. I trust that you will find a fantastic university. I believe that everything happens for a reason ❤️

    Reply
  11. Lizzie Bee 13th January 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I really admire how you’ve handled the rejection and are trying to see the positives rather than focusing on what could’ve been! If it were me I would’ve been a mess so I’m cheering for you! I wish you all the best in applying for Bristol!

    Reply
  12. Francisca Rockey 14th January 2019 at 2:50 pm

    You are an incredible young adult Eleanor. Being rejected from Oxford is not the be it end all, you’re still smart, you will still go to uni and it’s their loss. They lost out on someone who is so passionate and motivated. The best way to move on from this is to figure out your next plan, no point dwelling on it or making yourself feel down or worthless because you’re not worthless. You’re going to have the best time at Edinburgh, Bristol or wherever you end up. Everyone who goes to university is getting the same degree, where you get it from doesn’t really matter. Obviously, you have the place you desire to go but everything happens for a reason and once you get to your destination, you will see that this was just a stepping stone to where you were meant to be.

    Fran | http://www.franciscarockey.co.uk

    Reply

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