Why British Youth Have More to Worry About Than Americans
I’ve never realised how good American kids have it when it comes to the stress of being accepted into a university. Americans take what is basically the entrance tests– the ACTs/SATs– during their junior year (Year 12 for the Brits), and can pretty much gauge where they can get into and with how much effort they can get in with, especially since almost every school has a range of scores that accurately reflect the middle 50% of the student body. The tests themselves are pretty easy to prepare for, seeing as they always have the same subjects (English, Math, Reading, and Science for ACT; Math, Critical Reading, and Writing for SAT) and they are MULTIPLE CHOICE. Oh, and it’s not uncommon for a student to take the ACTs/SATs anywhere from 2 to 6 times.
British students have it SOOO much worse. They have to prepare for their “entrance exams,” aka A Levels, for two years in a single, dedicated subject, like Economics or History. It’s nowhere near practical for a student to retake the exam, especially if they took the A Levels and the AS Levels in one session at the end of their final year in school. And JESUS CHRIST the exams are no where close to being as easy as a multiple choice test. Those exams are written. Entire pages of my exam answer document have been dedicated to a single question. Then, just to add insult to injury, while us Americans are packing and prepping for the university we got accepted to in APRIL, British kids are just waiting to see if they made the grades to GET IN!!! It gets even worse when you mention that some Americans start their University courses before British kids EVEN KNOW IF THEY’RE GOING TO UNIVERSITY!!! And God forbid the horror that befalls those who don’t get the grades they need for their choice university and have to go through clearing…
In all, I have so much respect for British students. They have far more strenuous testing conditions and far more stress to deal with. I wish you the best on your results!
This is a post for people who didn’t get the results they wanted today. Please remember that although it’s great to have good grades, there’s many other things in life which are equally and more important. And whatever the schools like to tell you, failing exams does not mark the end to a successful future. There’s more. There’s always another way. So don’t let a disappointing sheet of paper hold you back in any way at all. You tried your best! That’s the most important thing. Now go get on with living the life you’ve waited for.
So it’s the night before results day and I know just how nervous you are, I went through it myself 2 years ago and I remember all to well just how terrifying tonight is going to be. The night before my results came out I watched Cinderella at 3 in the morning crying and refreshing UCAS because sometimes the acceptance notification comes out before 9am.
This is going to be focused on helping those of you who are applying to university because that’s the thing that I know the most about. I don’t want to advise anyone about apprenticeships or other things like that because I just don’t know enough.
So here are a few things you need to remember about tomorrow:
The world won’t end if you don’t get the results you want. Less than half of my class got the results they needed to get into their 1st choice Uni. 2 years on every single one of them is happy where they are now. It worked out, they kept their heads, stayed calm and made it work.
You don’t ask you don’t get. Call up the uni that you planned to attend and see if you can still go ahead with the results you’ve got, you’d be surprised how often they say yes.
Don’t panic if you have to go through clearing. If you feel like everything has gone wrong and you’re panicking it’s very easy to go onto clearing and apply for the first vaguely relevant course you see which is how you end up doing Modern European History in some tiny university town miles from anywhere when you wanted to do medieval British history and be in a big city. Go through the whole list, find ones you really like the look of before you do anything, this is ¾ years of your life it can’t be a panicked decision.
You don’t have to make a decision now. If you didn’t get the grades you wanted and need time to think things over or you got what you wanted but have changed your mind about what you want to do now that is okay. You can take a year and travel or work or resit something and make your decision next year. That is allowed, loads of people do it.
Just because you got in doesn’t mean you have to go. So at some point between applying in October and results day tomorrow you realised that the only reason you applied to Hull/York/Aberdeen/etc. is because your dad went there and he wants you to go there too. Or you’ve just fallen out of love with your firm choice, you are allowed to change your mind. Call up the place you’d rather go now and see if they have places on the course you want. If you got the grade they’re probably going to say yes.
You are allowed to trade up. You really wanted to go to Uni A but your teacher said that you’d never get the 2 As and a B they were asking for so you went with Uni B which only wanted 3 Bs. But look at that you got 2 As and a B!. Suck on that Mrs Curtis! Who’s inconsistent and easily distracted now huh? You call up Uni A and see if they’ll take you in. The same applies for if you decided to look at unis based on your predicted grades and now you’ve done better you want to see what your options are. Get your butt on UCAS and see what options have opened up to you.
You are going to be okay. It’s one day in the rest of your life. No matter what is in that envelope tomorrow you still have the same worth as you do right now, your family and friends will still love you just as much as they do now. Your A level results are not the most important thing that will ever happen to you (I hate that teachers tell that lie to try and get you to work harder, it’s bullshit) they’re just results like any other test you’ve done.
So take a deep breath, have something to eat, watch a film, go to bed early and be damn proud of yourself for getting through the most stressful 2 years of your life so far.