5th August, 2021

Help! My Child Didn’t Get the A-Level Results they Expected!

By Kirstan N

It’s Results Day, and for some it can be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

If your child didn’t get the results they expected, you need to work together to plan your next steps.

Try to stay calm and keep in mind that university isn’t the only option. There’s always an alternative.

Here’s what you can do if your child didn’t get the A-Level results they needed...

Talk to your University

If your child only missed out on the grades they needed by a few marks, then it may be worth taking the time to speak to somebody at the university of their choice.

In some cases, the university may reconsider their decision and allow your child to attend. Otherwise, they may well offer your child a place on a different course. Whether or not your child wants that place, however, is a different question.

If you’re planning on appealing a grade (see ‘Appeal the Grades’ below), then you should make the university aware. They may be able to put your child’s place on hold, or at least defer entry until next year.

No matter what circumstances you find yourself in on Results Day, it’s well worth talking to the university about it. You never know what might happen!

Appeal the Grades

woman appealing to group

If you or your child believes they were given an unfair grade, they can appeal. We all know what happened last year with grades, and although there was a lot of initial disappointment, in the end many appeals were granted and many students were eventually awarded the grades they deserved.

We advise starting the process as soon as possible, as it can take a while to review your child’s grade. There may be a university place at stake, so it’s important to act quickly.

You’ll have to go through your child’s school to appeal a grade. The school will generally have members of staff to talk to when your child receives their results, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

You should also make sure to alert your child’s chosen university. If they’re aware of the appeal, they may reserve your child’s place on the course. However, they’re under no obligation to do so which is why it’s best to check beforehand. Always make sure to get anything in writing, as well.

It’s worth bearing in mind that appealing a grade may actually end up making things worse. Grades can be moved downwards as well as upwards.

So if you are going to appeal a decision, perhaps consider consulting with your child’s teacher. If they expected a better grade too, then you may have a case. If they didn’t, then maybe it’s not worth the risk.

Go Through Clearing

If your child doesn’t have the grades they need for their chosen universities, and you aren’t planning on appealing, then your next best option is to go through clearing.

Essentially, universities will often have undersubscribed courses. As a result, they will often have lower grade requirements, and be more willing to accept your child.

In 2020, over 70,000 students received a university place through clearing.

You can see a list of all the available courses on the UCAS website. These are updated regularly so keep checking back if nothing takes your child’s fancy.

You’ll need to apply for clearing in much the same way your child applied to their original choices. Make sure to have details of your child’s GCSE and A-Level grades to hand, as well as access to their personal statement.

You’ll then be given a clearing number and invited to the “Track” service. You can then provide the university your child is applying to with that clearing number and a personal ID number.

A verbal offer will then be given. You should only accept one clearing offer. You can then apply through UCAS, following the steps that you’ll be given.

Bear in mind that if your child does end up studying at a different university, they will need to update their student finance details so that they still receive their loan. You should do this as soon as you know which university they’re attending.

Take a Gap Year

Gap years are a popular way of taking some time to yourself and developing extra skills before you commit to a university course.

If your child doesn’t have the grades they need, and had their heart set on a particular course, then a gap year could be a viable option.

A gap year can take any number of forms. Your child could go and spend some time working in another country, or simply go travelling on the other side of the world.

Ideally, your child should choose gap year activities that offer something in return. Taking a year to develop their skills, gain work experience, or even just make some money looks far better on the CV than simply having a big holiday.

While it’s fine for your child to spend a bit of time relaxing (after all, they’ve had a stressful few months!) they should really look at the various opportunities open to them if they want to make the most of their time.

Taking a gap year will also give your child the time they need to decide whether they still want to attend university. If they do, then they can reapply as normal next year.

Other Opportunities

Even though your child might have had their heart set on going to university, it doesn’t mean it’s the only option.

There are lots of other opportunities that your child could pursue.

Apprenticeships, for example, have been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years. They offer the opportunity for your child to enter the world of work, earn some money, and gain a vocational qualification at the same time.

Some apprenticeships even enable your child to work towards a degree while they work.

UCAS has a list of available apprenticeships. If your child isn’t interested in any of those, do keep checking back as more opportunities will be added.

It’s also possible for your child to simply start working. A lot of jobs don’t require a degree, and some don’t even require A-Levels.

If your child was going to uni without any idea of career choices, then they should take the time to think about what they might want to do.

It might turn out that they can pursue their chosen career without going to university at all.

It’s Not the End of the World

Results Day can be extremely stressful and emotions can run wild. Try not to get carried away and start panicking. Don’t make any rash decisions.

It might seem awful now, but it’s not the end of the world. There are always alternatives to university.

Try to focus on the positives. No university means no massive student debt to worry about, it means not having to cook your own meals and iron your own clothes. It means your child might just be staying with you for a little while longer. We’ll let you decide whether that’s good or bad!

Hopefully this has made you feel a little better about the various options available to your child.

Whatever your child decides, we wish them all the best!

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