It's likely that many young people opened their envelopes to unexpected results this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic - in both positive and negative ways. So, how do we help young people to deal with their emotions around results day? Frank Hutton offers advice to GCSE students.
Now everyone has to stay in education longer (until your 18th birthday), in a way there is less pressure to ensure you get the results you want, first time round.
The options for young people are also more varied: staying at school, going to college, apprenticeships, specialist training, there’s so much to explore! So here’s some things to consider if you’re in a different situation to that which you were expecting following getting your GCSE and other first main exam results.
If you’d planned to follow a path that required certain grades and you’ve not quite got what you wanted, contact the establishment or organisation you were hoping to attend and speak to them. Don’t assume it’s all bad news if your results are different. They may just like you for you, not your results.
Get a balanced portfolio
It’s a very early stage in your life and most will not know for sure what they want to do as a career if they have any idea at all. Don’t worry. That is normal (perhaps more normal than knowing for sure). Having a balanced range of qualifications will open more doors to you and perhaps help you grow in areas you had not originally considered as a career. Consider taking different subjects or sitting re-takes to achieve this balance.
Check out the options beyond what you’ve already discovered
The range of jobs and options is much wider than most of us imagine. Get some extra help beyond what you have already received. There’s lots of material online, not least the National Careers Service – there is lots of information and guidance on their site about different types of careers and jobs and training and you can get access to support from a real person. There’s even a free helpline you can call.
Speak to people you know about their work journey
Find some people, older than you, maybe Christian if possible, who you trust or respect. Speak to them (you’ll be surprised at how willing most people are to help you – they will enjoy it!). What did they do? Learn the principles from their experience rather than the detail. The world may be different now to their day but how they felt, how things changed or what sustained them may contain the inspiration or wisdom you need.
It’s difficult to know what you want to do in life
Most young people will not have finished developing physically, mentally or emotionally at age 16. God is interested in your life today, not just in 5, 10 or 30 years' time. Give yourself some time and realise you may change your mind along the way, and that you should be able to enjoy your life now…today. Sometimes God walks us through our options to help us grasp things more firmly, before setting us on the path He wants for us. Keep praying and keep believing he has a plan for you: “plans to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11.
It’s perhaps the first time you will have had a serious choice which you can influence
This is a chance to grow up and mature a little. It’s important you are involved in this and guide it. God has given your life to you. Find someone else (youth leader, friend, minister) who will pray with and for you and if possible discuss with them your options. Make sure it’s someone who will enable you to explore their options – and who will avoid telling you what to do. Enjoy the amazing range of possibilities there are for us all in the beautiful world God has created for us to enjoy and take care of, and enjoy discovering the things God has prepared in advance for you to do, big and small.
Frank Hutton is a professional career coach and recruiter.