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Results day: How to support your child if they don’t get into university

Results day: How to support your child if they don’t get into university
A Level results day can be a rollercoaster for parents as well as students. Here's how to support your child if they don't get the grades for their university
For many students, A Level results day will be full of celebration, as teenagers up and down the country enjoy the news that they will start at their chosen university, come autumn. However, following headline news that A Level results are expected to be lower than predicted, several students may no longer get the grades they were hoping for.
a teen looks at her exam results with stressed expression
As a parent, you’ll likely want to be ready to help your child if they do find themselves in this position. To better understand the options that are available if your child doesn’t receive their predicted marks, we asked Mya Medina, Senior Tutor Team Lead at 1:1 online tutoring company GoStudent, to share her practical tips and advice for navigating results day if things don’t go quite to plan.

1. Try to keep calm and level-headed

If they open the envelope and the grades are not what they had hoped, then your child is likely to be feeling angry, upset, or worried. They will be relying on you to support them, so try to keep calm.
While it’s natural for your child to be upset, on results day, you’ll need to help them to put their feelings aside while they make some key decisions, and quickly.
Do they still want to get to university this year? If yes, then you’ll need to act fast. The day may pass by quickly, so be mindful that your child will likely be struggling. Once you’ve taken action, remember to carve out space to be there for them. Listen and support them, and reassure your child that together you will work out a plan for the future.

2. Get on the phone

mother speaks on the phone
Call the first choice university and ask them if there is any flexibility. If your child has only missed the required grade by a couple of marks, then it might be worth contacting the university they want to go to regardless.
Depending on how competitive the chosen university and course, there may be some leeway and you may still be able to secure your place.

3. Explore clearing

Clearing is the UCAS system that allows universities to fill vacant spaces on their courses. You should be primed to go through clearing if you’re determined to go to university that year.
If you want to go to your specific first choice university, it would make sense to resit exams the following academic year and ensure you get the right grades.

4. Think about appealing the grade

graded papers
If you feel that your child's grade could be appealed, then keep in mind a few key factors. Firstly, consider how close the result was to the higher grade band. If you’re a couple of marks off a grade, then it’s likely worth a re-mark. If this is the case, then it takes an average of 15 calendar days for your results to be returned.
To avoid losing your place at your chosen university, appeal to them by reaching out via phone or email. In this case, you would explain you were a couple of marks off your entry requirement grade and ask if they would be willing to hold their place for you until the remarked grades are returned.
If they won’t hold their place for you (which can happen for particularly competitive universities), remarking is still worth it. If the re-mark is returned with a higher grade, you won’t have to resit your exams next year and can reapply with your correct required grades.

5. Would it be worth resitting the exam?

When people consider retakes, they need to consider which university they want to go to. To study medicine at Oxford for instance, you are likely to need a full sweep of A*/A grades. If your heart is set on this course and you don’t achieve these grades, then retakes are the only option.
Keep in mind, retakes are a real commitment. Most students assume they will simply retain the knowledge from their first time around. Students must commit to restudying their exams and ensuring they know even more than last time to get their desired grades. In this case, I would highly recommend getting a tutor to stay motivated and on track.

6. Consider a gap year

Backpacking through Thailand anyone? The cliche exists because it’s a great way to reassess and reframe a young adult’s relationship to working life.
It will allow them to gain valuable life experience and skills like independence. If your child isn’t sure what they want to do next, a gap year can be a great way to gain some perspective.

7. Think about an apprenticeship

If your child is still keen to take the next step and keep on learning, but university isn’t looking like a right choice for them, then apprenticeships are a great way to get stuck in and begin to acquire vocational skills straight away.
Cheaper than a university degree and easier to access, this is a great way to fast-track your career from the ground up.
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