Students across England and Wales are preparing for A-level results day on August 18 2022. Receiving your exam results can fill you with uncertainty, anxiety and dread. I had these same feelings before my A-level results day. I had the worst night’s sleep because I had dreams about opening them and failing. Also, I had this awful gut feeling even before I’d completed all of my exams that I wouldn’t get into my first choice uni.
My gut feeling was right: I didn’t get into my first choice uni. At the time, I was very upset and felt lost about what to do next. Everyone else was celebrating, and it felt like I was the only one with nothing to celebrate. But now, three years later and about to start my final year at uni, I couldn’t be happier where I am.
So, if you’re worried about how your results day might go, this article is for you. Here are seven things I wish I’d known before A-level results day.
1. Your results do not define you!
I cannot stress this enough. Whether you get the grades you had hoped for, remember that those grades are not your defining characteristic. I found this difficult to come to terms with because I had attached much of my self-worth to my grades. So, when I didn’t get the grades I had worked so hard for, my self-confidence and self-belief took a huge knock. Therefore, try not to put so much weight on these grades. I know that is easier said than done, but try your best to remind yourself that they don’t define you.
2. You can open your results when you’re alone
If you know that you would rather not be surrounded by many people when you receive your results, it is more than okay to go somewhere private and open them alone or with just one person. You can always meet up with your friends and/or teachers afterwards. If this would make you more comfortable when opening your results, you can do that!
3. Your plans don’t need to be decided then and there
After receiving my results and realising I hadn’t gotten into my first choice uni, my immediate reaction was to panic that my plans had derailed. I felt I would never get back on track with my plans, and bigger it up to be this major setback that, in reality, it wasn’t.
I started going through UCAS Clearing almost instantly after getting my results. It felt like I needed to create a new plan straight away. In hindsight, my speed in getting an offer at any uni was a mistake. I now realise that I would’ve been better off taking my time and thinking through a plan properly. I ended up going to a uni that I didn’t ever really want to be at, but I thought it was better than nothing at the time. Ultimately, I started over at a different uni, and I’m much happier with where I am now!
4. You can change your mind later on
In the run-up to results day, it can feel like you need to know exactly what you want to do and where you want to go. It is important to remember that, even if you try out one plan and end up hating it, you can still change your mind and your situation. You don’t need a solid plan by the end of results day.
Also, you can switch universities or courses or leave uni altogether if you aren’t enjoying your time at uni. You can make the changes you need to to ensure your happiness. So, listen to yourself and follow your heart, wherever it may take you!
5. University isn’t everything
You don’t have to go to uni if you feel like it isn’t for you. Although you may feel some pressure to go to uni if all of your peers are, or if your parents or siblings want you to, you can choose where you go at the end of the day. You don’t always need a degree to get a good job. So, if you’re not a hundred per cent in it before you go, there’s little point in forcing yourself to go and hating your time there.
If there’s a part telling you not to go to uni, try not to ignore it because it might not go away. I had this experience when I completed my first year at my Clearing university. I sometimes wish I had listened to the gut instinct telling me not to go!
6. You will end up where you’re meant to be
At the time, it seemed like my life goals were out of reach. Looking back now, having been at a uni I love for the past two years, and I’m glad things went off-course. Sure, it would’ve been nice to have gone to my original first choice uni; I’m not denying that. But, I truly feel like I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I have here in Brighton. For this reason, I believe I am now where I’m meant to be, even if it took many life lessons and an extra year of student debt to get here!
7. Celebrate, regardless of your results!
Even if you don’t get the desired results, you still have a lot to be proud of. You completed some really difficult exams, all of which expected you to know and understand a lot of content. Not to mention that you completed them during some very uncertain and anxiety-provoking times. You deserve to celebrate that you have finished your A-levels, despite everything happening around you. I, for one, am very proud of any student who got through exams in these past three years!
The takeaway message
Contrary to how it might feel right now, your A-level results don’t determine your entire future. There are ways to get where you want to be, even if it doesn’t necessarily follow your original plan. You can change your mind about what you want to do at any point. Also, try to listen to your gut if you feel you’re not going to enjoy whatever it is you have lined up. And, from all of us at Freshered, massive good luck to all students receiving their A-level or equivalent results!