Results do not define the rest of your life

Disappointing results do not mean all doors are closed

Disappointing results do not mean all doors are closed

For those receiving A level results  it is without a doubt one of the most nervewracking days in your short adult life.

Examinations that could well shape your future career and allow you to make your first tentative steps into the ‘real world’ are important, but they will not define the rest of your life if they are not quite what you had hoped.


Failing to reach your required targets and missing out on a desired university place is not a death sentence and it must be remembered that there are options available to you.

Don’t forget university is still an option! If you did not receive the necessary grades to make either your first or second choice there is always clearing. A word of caution though, do not rush into choosing a course that does not fit your interests and talents, it will only waste your time and money and will not be productive.

If you have your heart set on a course and clearing does not interest you, then there is always the option of resitting your exams in January or the following summer. Many people do much better second time around. Before resitting though have an honest chat with your teachers about why your results were low. If they don’t think you can improve them it might not be worth resitting. Resitting can also be lonely if all your mates are going on to do other things.
Just because all of your friends may be heading off to university does not necessarily mean it is the best fit for you.

With fees up to £9,000 in England the decision to attend university is no longer as cut and dry as it once was. You can get qualifications without going to university as BTECs and OCR Nationals are work-related qualifications available in a wide range of subjects. They offer a mix of theory and practice and you can do them with lower grades at places such as the South West College. BTECs and OCR Nationals are recognised in many areas of employment and with some of they can actually get you into university. So closing the door on university at 18 does not mean the option is forever taken out of your hands.

For some the step from school to full-time employment is the best fit. Working your way up through apprenticeship schemes can let you reach your preferred career choice. If you have the right attitude and personality some employers will even offer you training so you can earn money and gain qualifications. There is no shame at starting from the bottom, Sir Alan Sugar’s first job was selling cigarette lighters!

Another option is that of a gap year, taking a year away from studies to travel, or alternatively save money for the expensive years ahead. You may not be ready to start full time education or  you might simply need a break. Either way there are plenty of options available and even if you have been accepted for a university place you can defer entry for a year.

It is not all doom and gloom if tomorrow is a disappointment, a setback it may be, but with the plethora of choices available there is no reason why it has to define the rest of your life.


The Public Health Agency have urged parents to look out for their teenagers at the time of exam results, a period of considerable stress.

Teenagers not getting the grades they hoped for can result in them feeling anxious or low and the agency believe it is important not to neglect the possible impact of this stress on mental and emotional wellbeing. Parents are urged to look out for behaviour or feelings that could indicate that their child is showing signs of stress. More information on looking after mental health and the support available in Northern Ireland can be found at

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