Whipped up by the pressure of media speculation, parental or individual expectation, personal pride and the excitement of university places beckoning, results day is always the most agonising of the academic year. The faces each year are different but the extreme emotions are unerringly familiar. Careers teacher Mark Woodward offers some practical tips on how to survive the day and the aftermath.
Elation and despair
For most, there is the overwhelming joy that all the hard work over the last two years has paid off, grade offers have been met and university beckons. For some, there is an agonising wait to see if their firm or insurance offer will accept a grade just below the offer mark. And for a few, with grades much lower than expected, there seems no way forward.
It’s a bizarre time: students with two As and a B think they have failed because they have missed that third A grade, while yards away students with a mix of Bs and Cs are often cock-a-hoop at matching their offer.
Life does not stop
Whatever your situation, life most certainly does not end on results day. Don’t let that results slip destroy all the hard work from the last two years or the experiences and friendships you have enjoyed at school or college in class, extracurricular activities or on the social scene. To friends and family you are still the same lovely person you were a few hours ago.
Life is most definitely what you make of it. Remember when you or your friends failed your driving test, you just jumped back in the driving seat, booked another test and got on with it. When one relationship fails, you either try to mend it or move onto the next one, determined not to make the same mistakes again.
Well, this is the same thing. If Clearing does not bring an attractive offer – remember universities need you as much as you need them, so don’t sell yourself short there – a gap year will bring enough exciting experiences to make you more attractive to a university than a simple set of A-level grades. You have 15 months to earn some money and gain invaluable work experience. You may now have the chance to change direction totally and go off and explore the passion you really wanted to explore but were too frightened to when filling in your UCAS form back at the start of Year 13. Keep your life glass more than half full and tell yourself life looks good.
Careers are seldom straight lines
Stop for a moment and ask yourself what you really want to study and do with your life. Follow your heart and remember results day is not the worst day of your life. Everyone’s career path is unique – there are direct journeys, long winding roads, alternative routes, cul-de-sacs and refreshment breaks. Your route might be circuitous and hit a few blind alleys, but at 18, you definitely have the time and the chance to explore any option you fancy.
One Bablake student, Olivia Broadfield, has released her debut album in the US. Now in her mid-twenties, signed to Vagrant Records, home to Dashboard Confessional, she has had one of her tracks included in the Jessica Alba film The Eye and her career properly launched after another track was used on MTV’s ‘The Hills’. She has her own record label, runs acoustic evenings in Hinckley and Coventry and enjoys life pottering about her allotment! Her A-level results were exceptional, she went to the University of Warwick to study English and Latin but a year into her course, Olivia changed unis and studied a music course at Coventry University. Back in one of my U6th Latin lessons, she brought me a cassette of her songs which were her real passion. It took her another year to follow her heart but from the time she chose to change courses, she has never looked back.
Follow your passion
icould has lots of video stories that show there is more than one path to a fulfilling, exciting job. Lucky breaks, perseverance and following your heart will bring more fulfilment than blindly going where others want you to go. Your A-level/ IB/ Highers grades may just give you that chance to stop and think more about what you really want in life. Life is not a rehearsal! you just get one chance to live it. Try and make sure you don’t wake up in 20 years’ time with regrets that you did not follow your heart. I think you owe that to yourself!
Head of Careers, Bablake School, Coventry
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Find out more about surviving A-level results
- Surviving A-level results day
- After A-level results: a University Admissions Officer’s perspective
- Unexpected exam results? What to do if your grades are higher or lower than you thought
- UCAS Clearing: six (rather harsh) choices to make