‘Please don’t think these exam results define who you are’

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Secondary school teacher and careers coach Michael Parker-Cook explains why not getting the exam grades that you were hoping for doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your ideal career…

So you have had a long summer holiday away from school or college, and now it’s the dreaded exam results day.

Of course there will be some of you who achieve your predicted grades and go to the university, apprenticeship or job that you applied for. However, some of you will be disappointed with your results and are probably feeling disheartened.

If you’ve missed out on your university offer and are now wondering what to do, then it’s worth noting that universities aren’t the only routes into a career. Have a read through the different career profiles on our website and research the entry requirements for the ones that you’re interested in.

Alternatives to university

If there are alternative pathways available into your chosen career then you should explore them, as enrolling on an apprenticeship or getting a job in this sector will save you huge amounts by avoiding student loans, and provide you with an invaluable source of hands on experience that a degree won’t give you.

In fact, you often find that employers will train you up and could even pay for you to achieve the qualifications needed for this career path.

What about resits?

During my time in teaching I have seen many students who have decided to resit their examination paper again or even retake the entire year.

Others have had their papers remarked and some have got a higher mark as a result, but a word of caution – many other students have found that their grade didn’t change.

So at this point think to yourself – is this the right course for me? Was my exam grade a true reflection of my ability? And what other options are available?

I have seen so many students who decided to do A-levels when a vocational course or apprenticeship would have suited them much better and given them a chance to really thrive.

So it’s worth thinking, is university the right choice for me?

I have been there!

I remember exam results day well – I didn’t get the grades that I needed for the university of my choice and it actually worked out fine.

Looking back at how I felt 20 years ago, I remember thinking my hopes and dreams were over and that I had no options available to me. In fact, I used the experience as a huge learning curve and used it to drive me down a career path I had never even considered.

Now 20 years on I am having a great career and can look back on my results day experience with a smile on my face.

So please don’t think these results will define who you are. This isn’t the end; in fact it’s the beginning of your new life and things will work out.

We have lots of information to help you explore your next steps – including gap years, applying for jobs and apprenticeships.



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