#resultsday #alevelresults2018 #A-levels #UCAS #clearing
Thirty-one years ago, this week; August 1987, I remember it well. I hadn’t slept for a good couple of months. Convinced that I’d done extremely badly on my #A-levels, I was dreading going into school for my results. Everything seemed to hinge on them. I thought it would be quite literally, the end of the world if I did badly and all I had worked for in my education would be meaningless. I’d end up stuck at home, my parents would give me so much grief, I would be unable to go to University and all my friends would do much better than me and decide that they couldn’t stick a dumb friend like me who’d failed all her A levels. I was convinced I was going to end up taking a job in my local Kwik-Save, stacking shelves, as I would be qualified for nothing else. I tried willing my results to be good. I wouldn’t go anywhere near a ladder, black cats or the cracks in the pavement. In short, I was a nervous wreck.
Fortunately, when I opened the dreaded brown envelope, I had done a lot better than I had envisaged. My place at Hull University was secure. That October, I started what would be some of the happiest years of my life studying French literature. The first week at University, all we seemed to do was ask each other what A levels we did and what results we got. But as soon as we got to know people, those A level results were confined to the dustbin of my information stores and they’ve never been retrieved since. Now, I can’t even remember what grades I got; it has been that long ago that I mentioned, or someone asked me, about them. That is the incongruity of A-levels. At the time life appears to depend on them but like much of life, they end up becoming distant memories from the past.
So, what advice would I give someone who has opened that envelope and found that the results are not as expected? The most important advice I can give is not to rush anything. Take your time. Think. Don’t just panic and accept a place at some obscure establishment of higher education, a million miles away, in a course that you don’t fancy just because it is a place. You need time to consider all your options, especially if you had not envisaged needing a back-up plan. If you really are set on going to University, then check the UCAS clearing list and be prepared to ring around different universities where they might have lower admission requirements. Resits might also be a good option, if you are adamant that you want to do a specific course.
Perhaps you really don’t fancy resits and so it might be worth considering an apprenticeship or work-based training? It might be a good idea to think of less academic courses in favour of more hands-on courses such as training to be an electrician or beauty therapy. What about taking a gap year to really focus on what you want to do? There are also many opportunities to volunteer or try internships.
A-levels are now more challenging than ever. A grade on a piece of paper does not define you as a person. It doesn’t show your character, your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses. It certainly doesn’t measure empathy or emotional intelligence. In the same way, the results do not determine your future success or failures. I am a firm believer that everything happens in life for a reason. It might seem to be the end of the World at the time, but it just might be the making of you. It might send you down an unexpected path, a course that you had never considered, a career that you would never have looked at or the chance to travel. Whatever your results, this is only one day in your life.