By Nicola Boys
These past two academic years have been a mess. I was part of that cohort last year whose grades were decided by computer algorithms and later reverted to teacher assessments. It was so incredibly stressful and messy as a whole that everyone hoped that this year the government would sort out a better system in time (after all, they’d had a year to come up with something). However, they have instead decided to let your teachers decide these grades, from mocks you haven’t sat and coursework you might’ve handed in while under lockdown at home.
A-level results day is always a stressful day, but this year in particular, I have such sympathy for those eagerly awaiting their places. I just wanted to say: no matter what happens, what university place you get or what grade shows up on your certificate, you have done amazingly well to cope with the past two years of mess, of lack of teaching (despite your teachers best efforts), of sitting in science class at your kitchen table, of working without desks or reliable Wi-Fi, or under stressful, unhealthy family dynamics. You’ve got through it, and no matter the results on Tuesday, we know you have done your best, and we are excited to welcome the next year of freshers to Oxford, just as students across the UK are waiting to welcome those of you who applied elsewhere.
If the worst happens, and you don’t get quite the place you wanted because of a failed grading system, it will all be ok in the end, and you will flourish whatever happens. Moving to a new city, meeting new people and starting a degree will be amazing, and this is just a reminder that whatever the results on the day, this will all still happen for you.
However, that doesn’t mean your stress isn’t valid. To best prepare and cope:
Make a list of phone numbers and clearing availabilities at back-up universities.
If applying to Oxford, have the number of your college’s admissions officer available (this can be found on each colleges website). Last year, even those of us who missed grades were eventually given a place, don’t give up!
Have your sixth-forms number available so you can call and ask for help if you want advice.
If you begin having negative thoughts, do try to distract yourself with exercise, music, dancing or even just a cup of hot chocolate.
Don’t listen to other people’s stress and panic, reassure them and stay positive.
Try to get a goodnights sleep before. I know that’s easier said than done, but staying up all night worrying will not change the result or make it easier to deal with the next day!
Best of luck!