Bernard Canetti, Principal of Brampton College, London’s highest achieving sixth form college for the 18th year in succession, gives his advice to students who haven’t achieved the results they wanted – and lays out the options for taking the next steps.
Results day has finally arrived. It may appear from friends and social media that everyone has secured the grades they wanted. This can make it incredibly tough if you haven’t achieved your desired results and are now faced with reconsidering your future options.
The first step is not to panic and to take some time to carefully consider your alternatives. If you’ve already been accepted by your first or even second choice university then not having achieved your required grades may not unduly concern you. In recent years universities, including some leading Russell Group universities, have been more accepting of students who have not attained all their predicted grades. Having offered you a place, it’s likely they’ve already seen your potential and gaining a B rather than an A won’t necessarily change this.
If you’ve missed the mark by more than a couple of grades, you may want to re-take your A-levels regardless of whether the university you applied to is still willing to offer you a place. At Brampton we have many students whose confidence and aspirations improve during their time with us and who decide to apply to a university or course that they previously considered out of reach. This is a perfectly viable route, and young people shouldn’t necessarily accept a place they aren’t happy with when they know they can achieve better.
In the eventuality that you haven’t been accepted to university, you could consider clearing. Clearing can be a useful way to gain a place for the coming year if you’re happy to accept an offer to a course or university which may have key differences to the one you originally applied for. Crucially, however, clearing is never something which young people should rush into. Think very carefully about what you are willing to compromise on and take advice from your school careers adviser, who can help thoroughly review your situation before making a decision.
Ultimately it may be that re-taking at least some of your A-levels is the best option. At Brampton we often accept students who previously hadn’t realised re-taking was a viable option. Others often won’t consider it due to the length of time involved and desire to start university at the same time as their friends. These are, of course, factors to consider, and it may be the case that if you’ve missed out on the opportunity to study medicine you’re still enthusiastic about accepting a place for biology or pharmacy elsewhere. However, last year six of our students who re-sat their A-levels achieved a place at university to read medicine.
What I do believe is a shame, however, is when a student misses the chance to follow their dreams simply because they don’t view re-taking as an option. To these young people I would say: don’t be willing to settle for second best! If you have a dream and an achievable way to reach it then follow that path. There may be bumps in the road but this doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing. Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of students doing a re-take course transform their prospects for gaining a place at university as well as their confidence in their academic abilities.