Worried about your A- Level results? It’s really not the end of the world

No seriously, I’m not trying to make you feel better

I’m coming up to the final year of my BSc Hons at UCL. Most of my peers can barely remember what they got three years ago: and most employers couldn’t care less

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It is absolutely horrible, isn’t it? The vomit inducing terror of that fearful piece of paper. You’ve spent all summer fretting and developing nightmarish situations in your head about what letters are on the document. In a few weeks, it will all be over. Scared? You don’t need to be.

If you’ve applied sensibly to an achievable course (you aren’t aiming for AAA* when you got CCC at AS Level) chances are they will let you in if you miss out by a grade.

And even then, if you have a personal disaster and get BBB, great universities like Newcastle or Birmingham usually have a few places where they will let you in through clearing. A few phone calls and you could have a place by the end of the day. I know a few people who got CDD and ended up at a Russell Group redbrick by 8pm. So ultimately: don’t panic.

You won’t like this, but if you are rejected on account of your grades, the course directors are probably doing you a favour.

If they don’t think you have the ability to pass the course and allow you to spend two years before being kicked out for failing to progress: all you’ve got is a massive debt…and that kind of sucks.

You really don’t want to be on a course where you are in constant anxiety over passing or at risk of being kicked off.

It’s stressful for you, and it’s a waste of time and money when you should be having fun and enjoying learning. It is much better to do BA Art History at Nottingham, having fun and developing the confidence to explore your field, than to do BA Art History at Durham in tears and sheer panic for three years. For 9k, enjoying yourself and not living in terror is probably a good idea.

A higher ranking does not equal the best course for you.

I mean it. So many students come out of lower ranking universities with greater esteem, skills and ability because they haven’t been pushed over the edge by a standard that is unachievable for them. Brilliant academics, scholars, thinkers, entertainers and scientists have come from some of the worst institutions. It doesn’t begin and end in the top ten.

Also, employers (by and large) don’t mind if you got CCC after your degree.

Some big companies can be snobbish about it, but if you have a kick ass degree in a field they like, and the experience, they really don’t mind. Obviously applying for a job at Prevent with a U in A-level Religious Studies isn’t going to end well, but largely speaking most employers won’t mind. Remember how big your GCSEs felt? It’s sort of the same now. If you have that A* in English Literature, fab, but no one is really going to care if you got a C.

However, that doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Doors open and shut and that is a responsible thing keep in mind.

Don’t just assume that you will get an easy ride, try your best and it does make it easier later on. I haven’t met a single potential employer who has said “wow, A* A B B, you are so hired” but I have definitely had people say that my work ethic looks stronger due to a satisfactory academic record. Don’t panic if your CV says DDD -as I said, if you have a 2.1 in History no one really cares if you got a D in French- but if you can show a good record of hard work, that is never a bad thing. It also makes the transition between degree and A-level easier if you have worked hard to get to that level.

What I will say, honestly, is don’t settle for a grade or university which you know will hold you back for the rest of your life.

Don’t be dramatic about it (the difference between ABB and ABC is negligible) but don’t attend a university course that you resent as inferior to your ability. There is no shame in retaking. If you genuinely feel that you can do significantly better and achieve more, apply for retakes. Do not settle for a university that you hate because you feel that you have to. You don’t.

But in the long run, whatever happens, it is nowhere near as horrific as it feels now. By the end of your degree, results day will feel a million years ago.

Written by

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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