In under two weeks, throngs of nervous teens and beyond will be checking their emails and UCAS accounts to see whether they secured their place at university.
It’s a tense time for students and parents alike, so here’s the parent’s how-to guide for coping with results day.
Results day calls for a lot of understanding because there will be both highs and lows. Whether you recall results day or you wish to forget it, you must understand that your young person’s life is going to change with a simple tap on their phone screen or the opening of an envelope.
Whilst education has changed wildly since you may have sat your A-Levels (or even O-Levels), a major difference between your results day and your young person’s would be the pandemic that impacted their further education – and for some, this year’s A-Level exams may have even been the first exams they’ve sat due to cancelled GCSE exams in 2020.
Whilst there are more lenient grade boundaries as a reflection of the impact of Covid-19 on their education and any lost learning, your young person’s expectations may differ from what their results say.
Key takeaway: Understand that your young person may have different expectations of what success is, and understand that the news they receive on results day has the power to change their lives forever – it’s the start of an entirely new journey for them.
As well as being understanding, you need to offer support too.
Whether the results are better or worse than expected, it’s really important to show that you support them regardless of the results.
If they did not secure their place at university, it’s alright! It’s not the worst case scenario, their future isn’t over and it certainly is not the end of the world!
To them, it will feel like that so let them know that you understand how hard they tried, acknowledge the work they put in to get there and tell them you’re going to support them to get to where they want to be.
To support them effectively, you’ve got to understand next the steps.
- Encourage them to call the university that was their firm choice. It may be a case of the university suggesting a place on an alternative course. If your young person wishes to be a journalist, they could study English to refine their written and analytical skills and acquire their journalistic knowledge after university through apprenticeships that are often offered by local newspapers.
- Clearing. If the above isn’t viable, they can enter UCAS Clearing which is a list of vacancies on courses from universities across the UK. They’ll need to pick the course they’re interested in, call the university, share their results and see whether they will be offered a space.
- Appeal. If your young person is adamant the results are wrong, they have the option to appeal their result to the exam board.
- Take a break, resit and reapply. If your young person is adamant that they want to go to The University of Over There to study That, then let them take a gap year to get some life experience at work, resit their exams and try their luck next year. It’s not a straight line to get to where you want to in life, there are sometimes turns and reroutes – and again – it’s okay!
What is clearing?
As mentioned above, it’s a list of vacancies on courses. Your young person will know they’re in Clearing because their status in their application will state ‘You are in Clearing’. With that, they’ll be given a unique Clearing ID number. They’ll need this number, together with their UCAS ID, when they call universities via their Clearing hotlines to discuss course vacancies.
If a university makes your young person a verbal offer, they will then receive an email explaining their next steps and how to enter their choice in their application before the offer expires.
Once your young person adds this offer as their Clearing choice, this counts as them accepting the offer. When it’s confirmed, it’ll show as an acceptance on their ‘Choices’ page in their application.
Whilst it’s a tense time, it’s worth noting that neither you or your young person should panic during clearing. It will feel like a slight frenzy with spaces being snapped up but you ought to take your time to make sure the university and course they’re selecting is the right one for them. It’s a lot of pressure, and it’s a massive decision to make, so you should try to remain as calm as possible.
You’re not alone in this – the staff manning university hotlines are trained and experienced in this and they’ll be able to guide you through the storm, as it were.
And so the waiting begins.
Speak about results day before the day arrives – discuss all eventualities and plans of action so that nothing, apart from the results, is a surprise on results day.
It will come around much sooner than you expect it to, as will their departure to university.