Returning to awesome: 7 things to do after lower A-level results

Okay, it’s A-level results day. If you, or anyone you know, is holding on to grades that weren’t the ones you’d hoped for, read this.

Your life IS NOT shaped by your results. YOU go way beyond a few exam grades.

What makes you awesome isn’t about a particular institution, degree, or career. Those things don’t matter as much as you might think.

Your awesomeness is about what you do. Everything you do. And who you are.

You are the big picture. While your experiences are parts of you, they don’t define you, they only help build a definition of you in pieces. For every situation that makes you want to crawl under a rock, there are many others that will pick you back up and make your big picture more amazing than ever.

In short, you can still make things happen if you want it. Lower A-level results aren’t a fail. You may have failed to secure a firm offer to the degree you wanted, but that doesn’t mean you fail. Or, put another way, failure is fine. It means you work on what’s next for your big picture.

Stuff like this can make you feel deflated. But don’t let it make you give up. Start with some of the following:

Have a cuppa and stay calm. Oh, and a doughnut too. Nom.

1. Take stock and stay calm

Yes, it’s time to pick yourself up, but have a cup of tea first. Have a few cups of tea. Basically, let it go for a moment. Nobody expects you to jump up fighting straight after a shock. So relax. As hard as that sounds, try.
It is not the end of the world. If anyone acts like it is, they are wrong. Hope is not lost.
Imagine how it feels when you’re really dizzy. Your balance is thrown around at first, but you gradually improve. Give yourself time to feel a bit less dizzy.

2. Consider clearing options

Although some unis say they have no clearing places, that’s no reason to ignore what is available. Check my previous posts on clearing to make sure you are prepared:

Other clearing tips online today:

3. Only accept a place through clearing if you really want it and you think it’ll suit you

Just grabbing at places because you’re desperate to go to uni is a dangerous move. If you really are that keen to be in a uni, ANY uni, it’s better to find places that will guarantee you a place next year based on the grades you have. Then plan ahead for the year ahead.
Yes, even though tuition fees go up next year. Fees are more annoying than dangerous.

4. Consider your other options

We’re all thrown curveballs from time to time. You certainly won’t be alone in this situation. There are other routes into uni. And you may even decide not to bother with university at all. Correct, that IS an option. Seriously. A good place to start in checking out other options is

The Independent has information on distance learning options.

Also check out Ross Renton’s tips on what do you do if you don’t get a place at University.

5. Find support from understanding friends and family

Don’t go through this alone. And if it is too tough to speak to those you know, seek online forums of support. There will be a lot of people going through similar circumstances over at The Student Room, for instance.

UCAS also has an Exam Results Helpline, with people on hand to discuss your future options. Give them a call on 0808 100 8000. UCAS say, “Whether it’s questions about continuing into further or higher education, or pursuing different routes such as vocational learning routes, taking a gap year or finding employment, advisers are on-hand to offer free, expert and independent information and advice”.

6. Work on Plan B, even when you don’t have one

University and College Union says that tens of thousands of students who don’t get a uni place this year are “unlikely to have a plan B“.

So make one. Now you’ve considered your options, make a focused plan. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it does need to be taken seriously.
Why? Because now is not the time to despair and grab at the first thing to fall into your reach.
Give it proper thought. Ask yourself some questions. What were you going to university for? How else can you get to where you want to be? Who or what can help you in your quest? Do you have any particular career or pathway in mind?
If you can’t answer all your questions, do some more research. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice as you do it. Nobody would be able to do as much as they do without other people.

7. Believe in yourself

It’s not always easy to pick yourself up after a fall. But don’t be hard on yourself. What’s done is done. If you did your best, there is nothing to worry about. You can shine brighter in other ways. If you know in your heart of hearts that you could have upped the effort, let this be Day One of making the effort you know you can give.

Good luck to you and may you have an amazing future.

Guest Post: What do you do if you don’t get a place at University?

Today, I have the pleasure to welcome Ross Renton to TheUniversityBlog with a special guest post.

With A-level results announced today (good luck everyone!) and a scramble for places at university, not every candidate will find a place in this academic year.

Ross has put together this great guide on what you can do if you don’t get that place at university this year.  Over to Ross:

It is likely that there will be a large number of well qualified school and college students who just miss out on a place at University.  With fewer clearing places available, many may consider taking a year out and applying for 2011 entry.  Here are my top five tips for school and college students who miss out on a place at University.

photo by ariel.chico

photo by ariel.chico

1.     Stay focused. It is not the end of the world; this year is one of the most competitive to get a place at University.  Sit down and consider all of your options carefully taking advice from tutors and/or parents.
Useful links: and

2. Mind the GAP (year). Taking a GAP year volunteering or travelling can be rewarding however ensure you make the most of the year. Universities will not be impressed by you taking a year to brush up on your video gaming skills. Ask your chosen University if they will offer you a place for 2011 entry.
Useful links:, and

3. Get some experience. Universities and employers both value the benefits of applicants having an understanding of the workplace. Getting a job or an internship for a year may have additional benefits including the opportunity later to combine studying with employment.
Useful links:, and

4. Keep learning. If you are unable to get a place due to your grades you may wish to re-sit some of your exams. There are also number of alternative routes into University including Foundation Degrees and Access Courses.  You can also earn whilst you learn through an Apprenticeship.
Useful links:, and

5. Be proactive. If you are determined to go to University you must ensure you get the correct advice. It may well be even more competitive next year to get a place. Be open-minded and look at a wider range of subjects. Contact your chosen University and find out what you need to do to get offered a place in 2011. Speak to your career advisor and/or tutor.
Useful links: and

Ross Renton is head of UK recruitment and access at the University of Hertfordshire. You can find Ross on Twitter: @Ross_Renton.