Kate Keenan: Exam results, only the end of the beginning
School's out and we saw A-level results last week and GCSEs are due today – making it a season of high hopes and expectations.
But those emotions are often coupled with worry and anxiety, not only for the young people awaiting their grades, but also for parents and grandparents for whom these results can be just as significant.
These days so much rests on the outcome of these examinations, whether they are GCSEs or A levels, as they play a major part in charting the way forward.
Everyone hopes that they will do well and be able to start their journey to achieve their life's dreams and ambitions. And many will do just that. This is a time to celebrate and take pride in what's been achieved and ignore the gainsayers who denigrate modern exams as being too easy.
It's also the time to look forward to the future with enthusiasm, while recognising that this momentous transition also requires support and encouragement from everyone involved. It's vital to appreciate that this achievement is not the end of the journey, but just the beginning of another even more exciting step in life.
But there will be some for whom immediate hopes will have been dashed and who need to take stock of the situation. It's essential for everyone to keep things in perspective and accept what has happened.
It can be hard to live with disappointment and dashed hopes, but it's rarely the end of the world. Too many young people seem to be convinced their whole future is going to be determined by the level of grades they have gained. But these results are, in the great order of things, only stepping-stones to help them get to their ultimate destination.
This is the time to reflect honestly on what possibly went wrong, then to move on swiftly and work out a Plan B. It's so important not to abandon initial ambitions, but perhaps find a different route to the chosen destination. Or maybe it may mean some readjustment of aspirations or a redirection of the means of getting there.
Whatever the outcome, positive backing from family and friends plays a fundamental part. On the one hand, this may involve reinforcing those hard-won results and helping them anticipate their future with confidence. On the other, it may be about offering comfort, consolation and hope to overcome disappointment and generate the energy to get on with building a positive future. No matter what, it is through unreserved support and encouragement that young people will be able to fulfil the next stage of their lives and achieve future success.