By now everyone will be getting on with their lives after the last weeks of August filled with exam results anxiety. For very many the outcome has seen them move into higher education or take a well-earned gap year. Others will be set to take up an apprenticeship or enter into employment.
For the moment they will be seen as the lucky ones able to follow their aspirations. Not to down play their achievements but it is worth pointing out that dropout rates remain high as the full impact of university life and its many pressures make continuing on the course unworkable. Gaining a degree is seen as a gateway to a good career. For many this is certainly true despite the economic burden created by student fees and the cost of living expenses accrued throughout the length of the course. The notion that having a degree is an automatic pass into a good job is no longer the case. Many well-qualified graduates find it difficult to enter their chosen occupation and end up in low paid jobs. For those who have not gained the examination passes they had hoped for the future is never as black as it first appears. On a personal note it was me who entered academia whilst my brother with little in the way of examination success at school ended up in commerce. It is perhaps no surprise as to whom has done better financially over the years. Examination results in your teenage years should not define you. Teaching adults wanting to take evening classes in an activity of their interest proved very rewarding. They were mainly people who for various reasons did not have exam success when younger. Now for many, particularly women who had spent their 20s raising a family there was an opportunity to tackle study on their own terms. They approached the course with real enthusiasm and achieved their goal. One particular lady on being told her work was very good could not get over her surprise. She said it was the first time anyone had said she was good at anything. Coming to an education course with maturity and life experiences puts individuals in a better place to achieve their goals. With any luck life is a marathon not a sprint. We are all well aware of what happens to the runner who sets off at breakneck speed only to fail to end the race from burnout. As one gets older nobody will be remotely interested in what grades you got in examinations as a teenager. There is a real shortage of people able to do skilled work and provide everyday services. A bricklayer recently informed me of the real shortage of qualified people in his trade. Sadly he noted that of 36 starting a course only six completed it. With application, hard work and the right motivation great things can be achieved. The world is changing at a rate not previously experienced. It is very unlikely that people will be in the same job throughout their working life. A job in a bank was one such occupation that seemed totally secure for life. This is clearly not the case today. Flexibility and the drive to constantly update one’s skillset is a vital requirement in today’s workplace. Hard work and an ability to adapt to change are now key life skills in an evolving world. Examination results should never be used to define people. Failing exams does not make you a useless person. It says nothing about the true character of an individual. Remember “All things are possible to those that believe”.