Alice McCutcheon

Current student

Subject area
Design

My name is Alice and I’m from Ashford, Kent (about 4 hours from Loughborough). I was always a determined child and knew my goals and was prepared to give everything to achieve them.

I started in year 7 in a mixed public school, but my teachers soon realised that my goals were set higher than that and I was outperforming my peers. My maths teacher wrote to my parents asking them to get me into a Grammar School, because he thought that I would perform better in that environment. My mum taught at an all-girls grammar school and therefore I was used to the idea of it. Although it was a sudden and drastic change, in year 8 I moved to Highworth Grammar School, where I would be until year 13. I studied at A-Level French, Spanish, Business Studies and Product Design, and am now studying Industrial Design & Technology at Loughborough University.

Results day itself in Year 13 was one of the most nervous days of my life. Everything built up to that one moment. I knew that if I didn’t achieve my best, I would be disappointed with myself as I had put in so much work to get there. I would study for on average 14 hours a day and I think this just goes to show, that with the effort, anyone can get there. I arrived at school, and saw in the results hall, tables with different letters addressed to the different students. Their results. I searched for the letter ‘M’ (the first letter of my surname) and scanned the tables for my letter. To my surprise I couldn’t find it. “Had they never submitted my exams?” “Did I forget to submit anything?” these were all questions that played on my mind as I began to panic.

Fortunately I asked the teachers and they searched some boxes before finding my letter. “Thank goodness” I thought. Whilst I could hear other students laughing and crying in the background, I just wanted to be somewhere quiet, where others couldn’t see my reaction to my results. My mum and I went to the corner of a corridor and she hugged me as I opened the sealed envelope. So many thoughts went through my mind. I just wished that I got the grades that I had worked so hard for.

Results day itself in Year 13 was one of the most nervous days of my life. Everything built up to that one moment. I knew that if I didn’t achieve my best, I would be disappointed with myself as I had put in so much work to get there.

Alice McCutcheon

Before I knew it, I had the folded paper in my hands. I checked around briefly to check no one was watching me, before unfolding the results carefully and slowly. My first thought was “which of these numbers or letters are my grades?.” The sheet had individual coursework marks included so I was trying to find my overall grade among all the letters.

Then I saw at the top of the page. French A*, Spanish A*, Product Design A*, Business Studies A*. I couldn’t believe my eyes. After what felt like checking 10 times, to be extra sure that I wasn’t mistaken, I burst into tears. My mum, also with teary eyes and a beaming smile kissed me. “You got what you deserved” she repeated to me. I knew this moment would shape my whole future. The University I could go to, and ultimately my career path.

Alice McCutcheon posing for photo with friends

Bringing it forwards to life now, as a third year University student, I realise the importance of my work ethic. My course has so much variety, which is something I love. One day I am making engineering drawings and CAD models, the next I am prototyping, designing or creating graphics for an interface.

Alice McCutcheon portrait

The Loughborough team are so welcoming and with the quantity of societies, there is something for everyone to do (even if you don’t like sport!) The most important thing for me was to choose something I loved doing. So many people told me, that with my grades, I could have become a lawyer, a detective, a translator. But I knew what I wanted to do and I stuck by this. This is what I would most recommend to anyone. Throughout your younger years you will always have people tell you what you should be doing in their eyes. But the most important thing is to do what makes your heart flutter. Because the key to doing well is to love what you are doing. Even if when you start University you change your mind, that’s fine! The University will always support this and help transfer you to a course that would perfectly suit you.

If you are worried about results day, know that everyone is feeling the same. Ultimately, no matter how you do there will be options for you. Whether it be going through clearing, doing an apprenticeship, or deferring for a year, you will never just simply be left behind. Be proud of your hard work and know that everything happens for a reason. If you do great, then keep that amazing work ethic up for University (it will help a lot) and if you don’t, then know that you have learnt from this experience, and you have so many other options still available to you. If in doubt, ask a teacher for your options!

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