We’ve created a survival guide for both students and parents in and around A level results day; as mums who’ve been there as students ourselves and mothers supporting their teens through the process.
The summer holidays for teenagers awaiting A level results is one big pressure pot, bubbling away. Emotions will be running high on the lead up and on 17 August. Not just for A level students but also for the IB students who didn’t get the UCAS points that they needed for the university of their choice.
Teenagers don’t want to disappoint themselves but they also don’t want to disappoint you. If they get the grades, then all is well and already know the path they are taking. Big sigh of relief all round. However, if they don’t, then you’ll need to be prepared in and around the day. This is crunch time.
But is it? Getting the grades needed for the university a student has set their heart on does seem to be the be-all and end-all, but actually, not getting them isn’t the end of the world ..Although it feels like it at the time. We’ve all been there.
Preparation before 17th August
Look at the bigger picture with them. Help them see their strengths regardless of academic achievement and take a look at alternative courses, universities or work where you can earn a degree/other qualification whilst working, if they don’t get the results they want. Degree Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to gain a paid-for degree while gaining experience and earning a salary.
Talk to them about yourself or other adults you know (or well known people you don’t) who started their career in one area and then changed due to a setback or just a change of heart. Help them get some perspective.
Distract them during this time by planning in things you know they’ll love doing together (even if you are their parent!). Book a night away, a sporting event, go shopping or go out for walks. Bear in mind they may just want to be with the friends and peers who are all going through the same. Give them space.
Be proactive and informed. Armed with phone numbers and links to their firm and alternative universities, as well as clearing prior to the day. This will be stressful enough if they’ve not got the grades – so have it all ready. To give you a heads start, see the list of available vacancies of undergraduate courses on the official UCAS website.
Guidance to support your teenager on and after 17th August
On the day, if you know they’re anxious about not getting the grades and they don’t want to go into school, don’t push them to. Let them decide on the day whether they want to go into school or not.
If the news isn’t good then encourage them to talk to their teachers for further support about the next step. Whether that’s finding suitable alternatives via clearing, a stepping stone foundation course, a retake or an apprenticeship.
If retaking their exams is the direction they’d prefer to go in, discuss with them if a private tutor would be beneficial to help them prepare better next time round.
Be open minded, your teen is now a young adult with their own mind and ambitions. Certainly don’t push for them still to go to that one particular university – as you went there – or aspired to go there. That will only add pressure to the situation and might be detrimental to the choices they now make.
Importantly, let them talk and express their disappointment. That what they’re feeling is completely normal. Listening can go a long way. Also, if they need space to themselves that’s also ok.
Most of all, support them. Always. The unknown is scary but it can also be exciting. Help them reframe their ambitions, change of direction and new beginnings in their journey. Best of luck everybody!