The last two weeks have been full of exams news…A ’Levels and then GCSEs. The news stories have been the same – exams have got harder, results have got better, live opening of exam results on the breakfast new programmes and Facebook full of happy families or others looking for advice if the results aren’t what they expected.
But these exams don’t open all doors…
It’s a template – and so I fear, is the grief that comes with these exams. I’ve said it for years, to many, many people, that the pressure piled on our young people to perform, is not relative to where those exams get you in life.
They often have to recall all they have learnt in their school career in a three-hour exam; which at 16 or 18 I think is a little too much.
They’re being booked in for private tutors, spending hours on homework and revision and with the only option being to pass made into a tunnel vision, mental health in our young people is suffering. They’re being affected in ways that they sometimes can’t cope with now, and later in life…but that’s another blog for someone else…
I wish people had a Plan B before results day – then they’d have several paths to walk down after opening the envelope, rather than free-falling off the failure cliff of doom!
Failing to get the GCSE or A ’Level isn’t a disaster. It won’t wreck your life. It won’t stop you from getting a job. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a great career and a fabulous life. It just means for that moment, you might have to re-think your path ahead and look for some other options and as we know, sometimes the unplanned is better. Some call it fate.
Kent is full of opportunities – plus it’s close to London and continent, so the options available really are massive. Apprenticeships, further education, higher education, work experience – so many options are there instead of a straight route into university.
It’s a county full of rich diversity, filled with great businesses looking to bring the youngsters up and give them a chance.
If I had my time again, I wouldn’t go to university…I’d go straight to work and start my career a few years earlier. I’m sure that having a degree on my CV has helped me along the way, but no-one’s ever asked me to prove it by showing my certificate! Obviously, I’m not saying to lie about these things but what I am saying is that without a degree, life can go on for some careers – I do appreciate that others require it.
But I rub shoulders with many successful business people who didn’t go to university and didn’t need to either – they found other paths and don’t benchmark themselves on the level of education they reached.
I could have gone straight into journalism as a trainee on the job without a degree. I could have moved into PR without a degree and into self-employment without a degree – because work experience and ability are what mattered in my line of work, not certificates.
And those two things will also be what matters in many other careers too – you just need to look beyond the pressure pot of pre-18 education and look to the real world for the opportunities that will take you where you want to go.