On the run up to exam results day, parents can feel like there's little they can do but sit and wait as the anxiety builds. But, in my experience, the opposite is true. As a principal member of your child's support team, I believe your role is vital. And being prepared for any eventuality can ensure the day goes smoothly and successfully.
So, what do you really need to know?
1) The options: Knowledge is power, as they say, and having a solid understanding of the options faced by your child can help calm the initial shock - particularly if the results are unexpected. Clearing may be an option if firm and insurance offers are not secured and knowing how to access the lists can provide reassurance. Adjustment is something to consider if results are better than expected. Gap years, deferred entry and alternatives to university, like apprenticeships, can all be considered in the right circumstances too.
2) Free up some time: Every year, we speak to thousands of students whose results mean they need dedicate several hours to researching and evaluating their options. Not only is being there in person or the end of a phone invaluable to offer emotional support but some of the practicalities can be very time consuming. Universities are notoriously busy fielding phone calls and it can be frustrating waiting to speak to the right person. If a new university is being considered, it can be useful have a look in person and make a flying visit (geographically dependent obviously!). We know from experience that having a parent available to help them go through this process is invaluable.
3) Speak to the school or college: Despite an increase in the electronic notification of results, the school or college will still be open on results day with staff and teachers available to speak to but potentially not all day. Know the opening times, know what support is available and factor all this information into the day's plan.
4) Be the voice of calm: While many of the practicalities of the day can be dealt with by good planning, emotions are entirely different and a lot less predictable. You are a very important voice to your child. Try to be calm, reassuring and positive regardless of whatever the day has in store. Be ready to celebrate their success and enjoy their upcoming transition to a new chapter. But, just in case, be ready to comfort them if things don't go as planned. No one knows your child better than you and being there for them with a kind word, an ear to listen or knowing that they need a bit of time and space to think and reflect is where your role can be so crucial.
5) Call the Exam Results Helpline: In the event of any part of results day causes confusion or doubt, encourage your child to call us. Or call us yourself - we speak to hundreds of parents each year too. As trained careers advisers, we can help assess the options, evaluate the pros and cons and support your child to making the best decision for them. We are an impartial and knowledgeable voice in what can be a complicated but exciting time and we love helping every caller. We open at 8am on the morning of the results and we are available on 0808 100 1000. Good luck!
The Exam Results Helpline is 0808 100 8000 and opening times can be found here.