Results do matter

It’s that time of year again when well-known public figures proudly proclaim that they flunked their exams, or that exam results just don’t matter.

Don’t be fooled, they are completely wrong.

Back in 2017 an accounting firm commissioned an infographic detailing all the UK billionaires without a university degree.

It’s compelling, you can be a success without university, so forget those A-level results, and don’t waste your time studying.

It’s utter rubbish though.  Their list included a grand total of 13 individuals.  The times rich list in 2017 named 134 billionaires.

Taken as face value, that means you are 9 times more likely to become a billionaire if you have a degree than if you don’t.

Of course, that’s rubbish as well, the vast majority of that list have their massive wealth not because of qualifications, but because of good fortune (luck).  They were born in the right family or they fell upon the right opportunity at just the right time.

And the same goes for other successful figures (for the sake of brevity let’s call them all celebrities).  Sure, some of them did very well in school, and others didn’t.  Most of those recognisable characters were beginning to become successful before they even started A-levels.

Their talent was spotted early, they were already on the path, so why would they bother with academic studies?  How much of their success could be attributed to those exam results anyway?  Again, a healthy dose of luck is at play here, being talent spotted, getting the right mentor to develop your skill during those formative years, and having skill in a field which enables you to become a celebrity (can you name a famous project manager?).

Here’s the really important part though:

Celebrities are the minority.  There are so very few of them compared to everyone else.  Almost everyone I’ve ever taught will not be famous, they will just get a “normal” job like everyone else.  Their family and friends will know them, but no one else will ever recognise their name.

Those “ordinary” people are far from it, they are amazing individuals, with incredible capacity to do extraordinary things with their lives.  Those things probably won’t make them famous beyond their close circle of friends though.

For those ordinary people, exam results matter.  They are the key that opens the door for whatever is next in their lives.  Sometimes they open a different door than was expected of planned.  That’s fine, no one really knows where they will be in 5 – 10 years, we just plod on with the next step.

But to pretend the exam results are irrelevant is foolishness.  Those results are often the first thing a prospective school, university or employer will look at.  In a wide field they are the first step in narrowing down candidates, and that really does matter.

To claim that “poor” (by which I mean lower than you wanted) results are the end of the world is also foolish.  But that isn’t because they don’t matter, it’s because there are always alternate paths to take.

Missed your offer grades?  You could go through clearing to find a different course at a different university.  You could opt to retake year 13.  You could look at a foundation year course.  You could take a gap year and reapply with your results in hand next year.  You could shift gear entirely and explore apprenticeships.  There are so many choices, they just look a little different from the plan in your head before you opened the results envelope.

There’s no denying the disappointment you will feel though, and being told by celebrities that it doesn’t matter is going to cause more hurt than relief.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *