Everyone waits with anticipation as the NCEA results are released each January.  It is an anxious time of year for parents, teachers, universities and careers practitioners!

So, what happens when things don’t go to plan and you haven’t met the requirements for your entire life future plan as it stands right now?  It can feel like the worlds biggest disaster, that’s what.  Let me speak from experience, some things just need a curse word to describe the feeling that your entire life dedicated to your schooling so far, hasn’t amounted to much. Bugger, shall we say?  Bugger doesn’t cut it.  But let’s cut to the chase.

There are many reasons why students don’t make the required grade for their intended entry criteria for tertiary study.  It isn’t as easy as one might think and let it be a lesson to those in YR12 moving into YR13 currently, be consistent and keep it real this year!  Here is our three step programme to move on past today, the worst day in schooling history so far:

For Students:
  1. Don’t plan to wallow in self-pity for too long, you have stuff to do!
  2. The situation is what it is, accept your personal circumstances and don’t compare yourself to your peers.
  3. Start making a plan for option B, if you don’t have one waiting in the wings already.
For Parents:
  1. Remain calm.
  2. Don’t worry about your kids supporting you in your future retirement plan, yet.
  3. Be compassionate and assist your teen to start putting a plan B in place.  No amount of anger and disappointment is going to help this situation, trust us!
Here’s a few things to note on Results Release Day:
  • Your intended tertiary study institute already knows your results, they get them before you do and they will be putting an alternative plan in place already.
  • Your intended tertiary study institution and advisors will be inundated today, with calls of panic and despair.  It could be worth sleeping on it and calling tomorrow instead (if you need to).
  • You should get a letter very soon, or via your electronic login portal to determine your fate – accepted or not and what to do about it.

When it turns to custard, what’s next:

There are several options if you have not achieved University Entrance, or the credits required for certain papers at University.  If you are in a situation where you did not obtain the required credits for entry into a compulsory first year paper and you HAVE achieved University Entrance, your university or tertiary institution will advise you on an alternative paper that you may need to do to “catch up” and gain entry into that paper. In many cases, you can still start your degree and take opportunities to get your time back on track later, with summer school papers for example, or approved extended workloads.

If you did not achieve University Entrance, you need to have a think and a debrief about whether University is for you.  The level of study in comparison to level three sits at around level 4-5 by the end of your first year.  The learning is self-directed and there is not as much one-to-one time that you would normally experience in school.  If you had your heart set on University and you have got what it takes, here are a few options that you can consider:

  • Talk to your school about the possibility of catching up missed credits (this is usually a long shot, but it has happened in the past!)
  • Enrolling in a bridging programme, designed to give you entry into your degree and to prepare you for tertiary study.  They are normally six months and cost around the same degree level papers.
  • Enrolling at a Polytechnic and studying a level four programme, typically in the same area you wish to study at university level.  If you can complete a one year programme, you may be able to apply under discretion based on previous study.  For some students, this level of preparation is required to be able to be successful in a degree programme.  Occasionally, some credits may be able to move across into a degree programme.
  • Consider doing something else until you are eligible for Special Admission, which is for students 20 years of age and over.  At this point, you have to prove your level of maturity, life and work experience and is not a guaranteed entry.

Talk things through and really put some thought into your options.  Don’t make any rash decisions, you have time.  If you need advice, call your school, tertiary provider or your career practitioner.

Keep calm, be kind to yourself and be a Goal Digger.