A-level results day is fast approaching and the chances are, that no matter how well you think you have done, the very thought of ‘that morning’ fills you with excitement and terror in equal measure.
I know what you are going through… it isn’t long ago (2007) that I was going through the very same thing. That was indeed the longest summer of my life, caught in a near constant state of panic, unassailably determined that my very existence relied upon just 3 letters printed on a single piece of paper.
With the benefit of a few extra years, I have come to see things differently than I did when I was 18, and have realised that much of what we believe (or are made to believe) during our secondary education is nothing more than a ruse designed to encourage us (or scare us) into reaching our maximum academic potential.
Looking back, I can understand why I thought exam results were so important, but that doesn’t stop me smiling in quiet judgement of my former-self.. how could I be so incredibly sucked in by the game of examinations?
For it is a game, nothing more; your performance during a few examinations in your late teens will not, and cannot shape the progression of your life, it may point you in a different direction, but it is the things you do every day which will ultimately shape the narrative of your life.
Now that you have completed your examinations and your ‘fate has already been sealed’ so to speak, there is no harm in shattering some of the myths that you have been taught about education, university, and the game of life.
This is a lazy lie told to us by complaisant educators who find pinning all of one’s dreams upon a single pursuit, to be a more achievable task than actually taking the time to consider the many many factors involved in success. No doubt, a solid education gets you off to a good start, but unless you wish to work in a role which requires a very specific level of academic achievement, then you needn’t throw in the towel because of one set of exam results.
As the old adage goes ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ and likewise there’s more than one way to grow a career.
Determination, passion, hard-work, and unshakable resilience are the most important factors in guiding career success – not your A-level grades. That’s not to say that a set of ‘bad’ results doesn’t throw a spanner in the works, but it’s how you deal with this adversity that will be the ultimate deciding factor of your future career.
It is also important to remember that university isn’t for everyone, and you might actually be holding yourself back by insisting on getting a degree. There are still plenty of amazing careers you can have without a degree.
This is simply a bare-faced lie, and one that makes many people feel under enormous pressure during exam time. Remember that if you are set on a university course or career that requires a certain level of grades, you don’t have to settle for the results you get the first time… you can repeat.
For young people especially, this is a hard notion to fathom; staying at home whilst all of your friends go off to university or take a gap year, but if your heart is set on a certain career, which isn’t accessible by any other means, then repeating your exams is simply something that you have to do. If you find yourself unwilling to take this measure, then perhaps your chosen career isn’t the one for you after all.
Let’s face it, at the age of 18 you are in no position to be deciding the career that you would like to have for the rest of your life. Despite your protests to the contrary, you know very little of the world, and probably much less of the industry that you hope to enter. This is not intended as an insult, but rather just a statement of fact. Making a decision of such magnitude at this stage of your life is going to be fraught with problems, and the chances are that as time goes by, your hopes and dreams will change quite considerably.
This is why so many people find taking a gap year to be a good idea at this stage in their life, because it gives them the opportunity to experience a little of the world, and hopefully take some time to consider the options that are open to them. Who knows what direction your life could take if you actually give yourself the time to think about it?
Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the only time when this becomes true is when you believe it. It is a great shame that many young people who are disappointed with their exam results, never achieve their full potential because they think that their performance has labelled them as a failure.
In cases such as this I would remind you that in the world of work, there are many many skills and experiences which are given greater importance than education. Today, candidates with a degree level education are 10-a-penny, but those with cunning, wit, integrity, common-sense, and instinct are much, much harder to come by. A degree may charm an employer, but merit always wins in the end!
If you are expecting your exam results soon, you might also like to take a look at some of these recent posts.
Choosing a career, what to do when you havn’t got a clue
The pros and cons of taking a gap year