So, your “A” Levels weren’t all that? Can’t get in to the University of your choice? Might not even go to University at all? Disappointed doesn’t really cover it, does it?

It’s a few years ago now that I was feeling exactly what you are feeling right now but I remember it like it was yesterday. Gut wrenching, world-ending anxiety, a loss of faith in my own ability and intelligence, a nagging feeling inside that I really should have done more revision and less socialising this past six months. The worst part was the knowledge that I’d let my family down. My parents weren’t pushy, they weren’t strict; they just had this belief in me and I had ruined it.

So, I brazened it out and decided I’d go back to Sixth Form for another year and resit my French “A” Level. Well, what else could I do? I’d scraped through English Literature and Communication Studies and I didn’t like the word “FAIL” at all.

Get my Graduate Out to Work!

Not going to university…

Another year later and by the skin of my teeth, I scored an unimpressive E for French but hey, it’s a pass! Yippee, I’m no failure! However, it still wasn’t good enough to get me onto the European Business Studies course that I had set my heart upon, so I made one of the toughest decisions of my young life and decided I would NOT go on to Higher Education. With the arrogance of youth I told myself it would be their loss (Yes, the European Union wept!) and that I’d show ’em.

I Left School.

There was a slight hitch though. Without a plan B, I had NO IDEA what I would do to show ’em. My strategy was along the lines of…. something will turn up! 

I continued with the five or so part-time jobs that I’d collected while ‘studying’ and eventually one of them did turn in to a proper job. When I was made redundant, nine months later, I went to work for my Dad, just for the Summer and stayed for five years. In my mid-twenties, I landed a job with Forte Posthouse Hotels and then went on to work for DFS Furniture. By now, I was out-earning and out-performing many of my contemporaries with their swanky A grades and University educations. They were now, new graduates, starting at the bottom of the career ladder.

DFS BristolI was amazed to discover that my job “in retail” paid more than a solicitor, a police officer and many other professions.

I’m not saying that’s right but it’s true.

So, whatever you decide to do in the aftermath of results day, I wish you the very best of luck. By the way, I never got a single job based on my “A” Level results. I believe I was hired because I worked hard, I looked after customers, I was determined to succeed and you can rely on me. Oh, and I’m cheeky enough to ask: “When do I start?” at the end of an interview!

Don’t let yourself be defined by your exam results. Get out there and show ’em what you’re made of!


If you’d like to know more about how to deal with setbacks like this one, please don’t hesitate:

Contact me for a confidential chat. Ring 07766 250192 / 01452 523459 or Email




Copyright: Louise Jenner 2014

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