Results Day: The Beginning, Not The End

9 August, 2021

Results Day. The culmination of all those years of schoolwork, reduced to some marks on a couple of sheets of paper in an envelope. For some people, it’s a day of joy with those marks sending them in a direction they already had planned- but for many (the vast majority), it marks the end of life marked out by schools and parents, and the beginning of a new, uncharted path which they must pave themselves.

It’s easy to feel down if you didn’t get the results you were hoping for- especially when you see other people celebrating around you. But here are 5 reasons why getting the results you didn’t want could actually turn out to be for the best…

1. Didn’t get into Uni? There are SO many other options…

If you had simply assumed you’d go to University because it was what was expected of you, or because it’s what a lot of other people do after school, before you rush to get a place through clearing, consider whether University is what you really want. While University can be a great step forward for some people, offering the chance to gain a valuable qualification whilst learning to live independently and meet new people, it’s far from the only option.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of gaining skills and qualifications whilst in a real working environment, arguably making you more equipped for the ‘real world’ than a lot of University students. Plus, you’re paid at the same time and won’t have any student loans. If you’re interested in considering an apprenticeship, the government has an apprenticeship search engine here.

You could also consider doing further qualifications related to a passion of yours from outside of school- whether that’s a diploma in dancing, and art foundation year, or go and teach English as a foreign language abroad. There are lots of ways you can enhance your CV without going to University. Try and take this as an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Life is for living, after all!

2. Take a break

You’ve just spent over a decade and a half studying- and the world is busy trying to recover from a global pandemic. You’ve been through a lot this past year or so, why not take a break from it all and just…be? 

Spend a year living in the present without the stresses of studying. Perhaps you’d like to travel? Or spend more time with the people you care about, or doing something you love? Perhaps you’re interested in rock climbing- so why not take a year to learn route setting, or learning the skills to get out and explore more of the world? While doing these things you’ll be giving yourself the chance to really think about what you want to do with your life, and what goals truly matter to you. 

There’s a narrative peddled that you have to GO! GO! GO! and rush into career building and get yourself ‘secure’. But taking time to stop and think about what kind of life you actually want to have is really important. A lot of people rush into jobs and careers because they’re afraid of being static, but sometimes that can lead to them doing something that doesn’t leave them truly happy or fulfilled. Besides- you’re only young once. This is the time where you should be getting out and sampling all the great things life and the world has to offer. There’s plenty of time for adulting later!

3. Try volunteering

If you’re feeling down about your results and are struggling to feel optimistic about your future, then volunteering your time to a good cause can be an amazing way of spending some of your free time, while you work out what you want your next steps to be.

Volunteering is unpaid (although you are sometimes paid expenses), but it is so rewarding. If your self-esteem has taken a knock, then volunteering for a cause you care about, or giving back to your community can really help remind you of your worth. Life is about more than studying and working; it’s about connections, and leaving an impact on those around you. Volunteering is a brilliant way of creating a positive ripple effect – you might not always see the positive impact of those ripples, but you’ll know they’re there.

Depending on how/where you volunteer, you may find this experience directly contributes to your future career, and you may even end up meeting people who can help you get a foot up to a paid position. Whatever happens, though, it will certainly enhance your CV and give prospective employers a positive impression of you as a candidate.

4. Register as a temp

If you’ve already got a weekend job, but you’re looking to do something a bit different that may give you other useful skills, like office or admin experience (always valuable on the CV!) register with a recruitment agency as a temporary worker (temp). These positions are usually easier to get than full-time employment, and can offer flexibility, and can be a great stepping stone into more permanent work. This is a great option if you’re not sure what you want your next step to be, because you’re gaining invaluable workplace experience, earning money, and crucially- you’ll be getting a taste of what office life is like. If you hate it- that’s a really good thing to know before you make your next move! There’s an almost infinite number of careers in the world – so learning what you don’t want to do is actually super important.

5. Internships/work experience

Even for people who are University graduates, internships and work experience placements are still one of the best ways to get into the career you want. So perhaps the fact you didn’t get into University might actually work in your favour! You’ve now got a 3-year head start on those graduates to get additional experience which makes you invaluable to prospective employers, and it’s experience which counts for the most when it comes to finding work- something which will irritate those graduates who expect to have been given a head start!

Be tenacious. You might find it tricky to get some internships as they often go to graduates (but not always), so start off by writing into companies and asking for work experience placements instead. These are shorter and can often be done on a more ‘ad hoc’ basis, whereas internships are longer and therefore are often recruited for like an entry-level position. Once you’ve got some good work experience under your belt, you may be well-positioned to get a longer internship. If you work hard, by the time those green graduates come out, you could find yourself better qualified by virtue of experience to get those entry-level jobs- and with none of the student debt!

There’s no right or wrong way forward- and from here on out you and your school friends will all start going on different paths. It’s daunting, to say the least- but it’s also incredibly exciting. Life is talked about like it’s a treadmill, with only one way forward and that you have to keep going at the same pace- but that’s not true. It’s a winding path with an infinite number of turns and new roads you can take that will lead somewhere new. There’s no right or wrong way- there’s just your way. You might not have got the grades you want- but that’s okay. Your story is only the beginning- and this is just good for the plotline.

Plus, I guarantee that in 5 years’ time, you won’t care at all about what grades you got today. No one ever does!

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