Former BBC World News editor and ScreenSpace head of school offers advice ahead of A-level results day
Tomorrow (Tueesday, August 10) is results day for thousands of A-level pupils across the country.
In an attempt to ease nerves, Dr Lisette Johnston, ex-BBC World News editor and head of school at ScreenSpace, part of London’s MetFilm School, has given some advice to students, whether they do better or worse than expected.
“It’s going to be a very strange results day for tens of thousands of teenagers,” Dr Johnston said.
“If you find yourself going through Clearing it can feel like a very uncertain time, and you might feel under pressure to take up any place given that there are universities bidding for the students who get the highest grades.
“But marks are just one part of the story, and you need to make sure you make an informed decision so that your next move is a calculated one.
"It’s important that you don’t let the system get you down — keep positive and don’t let it put you off.”
So, if you didn’t get the grades you need and you’re not sure what to do next, here’s Dr Johnston's top five tips.
1. Ready, steady…. research
It’s worth spending some time considering and researching a Plan B before you get your results.
Have a look for similar courses to your chosen one, you might find one with lower entry requirements. For example, if you’ve applied to do film or media studies, why not look at other courses that focus on film or media, such as film and screen business, or for some courses check the requirements comparing a BA with a BSc — this works with courses such as economics.
If your heart is set on a particular university look at their clearing pages now and register with them to save time on the 10th if you do have to call them during Clearing.
2. Stay calm
It’s the moment you’ve been working towards and the computer screen or that piece of paper is telling you your dreams are shattered.
Remember this is just a blip, a bump in the road. Take some deep breaths, collect your thoughts, and remember there is always a different route to take.
There’s lots of help out there. Your initial reaction may be to shut yourself away — don’t!
Speak to your friends and parents, and don’t forget there are experienced staff at your sixth form or college who can help you.
They will want to do their best for you and most universities have a well-oiled Clearing process.
4. Be brave
Pick up the phone and call the universities you are interested in.
Ask lots of questions — there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Also, don’t just take the first opportunity that comes along, make sure it’s the right one for you.
Write down the questions you want to ask before you call, and if it’s a university you haven’t visited you may want to find out about facilities, accommodation, and student support.
This is your opportunity to discover what is best for you, don’t hang up the phone until all your questions are answered.
5. Keep an open mind.
If you don’t know what to do next then you can always give yourself some time to consider all your options.
You could defer going to university until next year, it’s only 12 months and it will give you time to decide what you really want to do.
You may decide you want to earn some money and get a job, or perhaps consider a higher or degree apprenticeship.