Reflecting on A-Levels Results Day

It’s that time of year. That time when young adults all over the country are preparing to get their A Level results. They have their future ahead of them planned with universities chosen, provisional places given and hope, dreams and ambitions that they are longing to fulfill.

So much rides on that piece of paper. That paper they have waited months to see and the paper that has given them sleepless nights for so long. How have they done? What will happen if they don’t get those grades they need? What will their parents say?

I started college back in 2001, studying four A-levels – sociology, psychology, english and law. I had dreams of being a lawyer, a criminal psychologist or maybe even a teacher. I wanted to be the first in my family to go to university but not just go to university but to do really well and to make friends through my further education that would last a lifetime.

In the end, three short months into my college courses and just a couple of weeks before Christmas I got kicked out of home. My parents had split up six months before and my home life went in a direction I never expected. I spent the next six weeks or so juggling college with my part time job whilst sleeping on friends’ sofas and trying to find somewhere to live. It was a really tough time and through it all I just wanted my family back together.

Reflecting on A-Levels Results Day

In the end, in January, aged 17, something had to give and that was college. The council wouldn’t help me with accommodation as I wasn’t a child but wasn’t yet an adult – a very grey area at the time. I also worked 2 hours more per week than I was allowed to for housing benefit and even promising to cut my hours in future didn’t help – I needed to work less for three months before the council would help me. So the choice was made for me. I had to work full time and I had to leave college.

I cried when I told the lecturers. I thought I had thrown my life away. That I was destined to be renting a room in a house and working in a shop for the rest of my life. I was 17 and thought I had given up every dream I had ever had.

The following year I went back to do evening A-levels. By that point I had got a better job but working full time and then doing two nights a week at college and trying to study the rest of the time was exhausting. Three months in I dropped out – again. I just couldn’t do it. The same thing happened the following year and I decided then that I wasn’t going to ever get my A-levels.

At that point, aged 19, I had a boyfriend of just a few months. I was still renting a room in the same house and really nothing much had changed. I felt like a failure. I felt my life was over and I felt like there was nothing much in my future to look forward to.

It may sound dramatic but inside the mind of a teenager emotions are strong, they’re real and they are very much valid. To this day my Mum swears I threw away my education and that is how I felt back then too. I felt like I’d thrown away everything I had ever wanted in life. It was a devastating couple of years and I really didn’t know where life would take me after that.

But now, zoom forward 12 years and I hardly remember that time. It seems like a distant memory and it seems almost like it happened to someone else. I have achieved so much in those years. I worked up the ranks at work, slowly but surely, and have now worked for the same company for that whole 12 years. I have done a lot of job roles, had a lot of responsibility and even became a manager for a few years, choosing to take a step back after having children.

I have holidayed in four of the continents in the world and seen some amazing things. I got my first mortgage when I was 22, got married when I was 24 and had two children by the time I was 30. I am now in my forever home with a beautiful family and juggling work with this blog and our family life. It’s a life that I never imagined possible and although marriage and kids were somewhere in my dreams the work aspect wasn’t something I had ever expected but it has definitely worked out for the best.

I’m not writing this to blow my own trumpet. I am writing this to say that no matter what A-level results you get today don’t think that your life is over. Don’t think that your dreams aren’t achievable and don’t think that you have thrown away any hopes and ambitions that you have.

As you get older your dreams may change or they may get slightly harder to reach but they are still very much there and you are still able to achieve anything you want in your life. Life really has only just begun and you have the world at your feet.

Whatever your results today – good luck with the next chapter in your life. These will be some of the toughest but most rewarding years of your life – go out and grab them with both hands.

Reflecting on A-Levels Results Day


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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One Comment

  1. It’s mad isn’t it, at the time those A Level results are all consuming but they’re just a stepping stone to the next thing. I didn’t get into university first time round – my predicted grades were shocking. I did better in my exams than we though I would (though still not great) and applied again the following year with some powerful and relevant experience under my belt. I got an unconditional offer for the course I wanted – interestingly I later found out I had considerably lower grades than my peers on that course. The work experience I had sought out for myself in the mean time nailed it. Yes the grades are important but now, almost half my life later – who cares what A Levels I took?

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