It might have been 22 years ago, but I don’t remember being too nervous picking up my GCSEs.
Even, a few years later, when I picked up my A-levels a little later than most (more on this in a minute), my nerves were in check.
I’d love to say it was because the A4 envelope was handed to a confident teenager who knew exactly where his career path would take him.
In fact, the opposite was true. Other than being a professional footballer, I had no idea what GCSE maths or German might get me.
The true importance of exams never dawned on me. For that, I have slight regrets – and I will try and pass this onto my sons, though it is a wish that may ultimately fall on deaf ears,
Last week, I felt quite privileged to be a bystander as A-level students learned their fate, both at the end of two years of studying and at the start of what they hope will be their first choice university.
The first person who picked up their results burst into tears, and it wasn’t with happiness.
It suddenly dawned on me how much these exams mean to people – and regardless of the results, that can only be a good thing and suggest bright futures ahead.
Care about something enough and you will succeed.
I had a similar viewpoint when the GCSE results were handed out yesterday, or a few days ago depending on when you reading this column.
It was too early to say when this column was put to bed, but I hope, like with the local A-level results, the overriding result is positive.
And if it isn’t? Going back to my own experiences, I left my A-levels about three months after starting them.
I told myself and, more importantly my mum and dad, that I wanted to do English language and my secondary school only offered literature.
In truth, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I then joined a further education college because most of my mates were there – but, similarly, I only lasted a few months as I lacked the desire and maturity to make the time up.
So there I was, 16 years old, then 17 and 18, going from casual work to seasonal job and back again.
A chance meeting with a local journalist and my life was turned around. Two A-levels completed, at home, in one year rather than two, ended with an A in English (language and literature) and a job at the dear Haverhill Echo.
I guess what I am trying to say is that our youngsters don’t have to be defined by the results they have picked up in the last week or so.
Apprenticeships, the world of work, a stronger desire in the classroom – the options are always out there. We don’t always take the orthodox path to get to the right place.