A-level results day: How to support your child – whether the news is good or bad

Worse than expected A-level results aren’t the end of the world, even though it may feel like they are.

After years of study and months of anticipation, A-level results day has finally arrived. And while there’s nothing young people and their parents can do about the results, there are plenty of ways to react to them, whether they’re good or bad.

Here Sharon Walpole, director of Careermap, which helps students find job vacancies, courses and apprenticeships (check out their Results Day Guide), advises how parents can best support their child after they get their results, whatever they are:

If your child doesn’t do as well as they hoped…

1. Stop asking when they’re getting their results

If your child hasn’t received the grades they wanted, it’s likely they’ll be too upset or embarrassed to come to you straightaway. Constantly asking if they’ve got their results will make them even more hesitant to divulge them to you. Let them come to you in their own time.

2. Remember it isn’t the end of the world

If your child doesn’t do as well as they were hoping, reiterate the vast number of options that are now available to them, including resitting their exams, taking a new subject (if it was just one exam result that let them down) or entering university clearing. But university isn’t the only option; they can do an apprenticeship, vocational training, undertake a BTEC or even go straight into work.

3. Listen to them

Don’t shout at them or lecture them – listen to what they have to say. They’ll likely be feeling upset with themselves and confused as to what to do now. Disappointing results are horrible in the short-term, so ensure you sympathise and comfort your child – it’s important they know they are not alone.

4. Look at alternative routes, such as apprenticeships

University isn’t the only option available following A-levels. If your child starts mentioning that they aren’t sure university is for them, suggest browsing apprenticeships, vocational training, BTECs or even voluntary work. Failing that, they’re old enough to leave education altogether and can look to get themselves into the working world. Often many of these routes will offer the chance to earn a qualification or degree, while also getting paid and gaining hands-on experience. Some options also offer a way for your child to study while remaining debt-free.

5. Go through Clearing

If your child is absolutely set on going to university this year or next, and doesn’t fancy resitting their exams, Clearing is a viable option. There are hundreds of options available using this method – just get your child onto UCAS Tracking as soon as you can, as the earlier they start Clearing, the better the options available. They’ll need to contact universities they see through Clearing themselves, as no one else can do this for them, and make sure they write down a top five in case they can’t get into their first Clearing choice.

If your child does as well as or better than expected…

1. Celebrate!

Before talking through options, make sure you congratulate and celebrate with your child – they’ll likely be incredibly happy with themselves and for good reason! Give them a well-deserved pat on the back and listen to them as they express their excitement.

2. Explore UCAS Adjustment

If your child did better than expected, choosing a different university is an option. This may not be appropriate for your child, but it’s worth giving UCAS Adjustment  a look. This platform allows a student who has done better than expected the opportunity to trade in their initial first choice for somewhere more sought after. Talk through your child’s options with them to assist them with this decision. Your child will need to contact the admissions office at the university they’re interested in and give them their personal ID. The university will then check they’ve met and exceeded their conditions. Make sure your child is absolutely certain they want to change universities before they confirm anything verbally.

3. Check if they can get a scholarship

If your child absolutely blew it out of the water and did amazingly well, they could well be viable for a scholarship to university. They are often incredibly competitive, so only those who are outstanding at their subject tend to get them, but it’s definitely worth exploring.