By Up To Speed Journalism’s Founder Tom Hill.
August is supposed to be hot. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s a holiday month and it’s in the middle of Summer.
But as I write, the leaden skies are weeping. And across the nation, more than 660,000 university applicants are anxiously waiting to see if their transfer from school to university will be seamless and pain-free.
Alas, it is predicted that about a third of those people will be disappointed.
A Level results can cast a shadow every bit as daunting as the cumulo-nimbus clouds in our sodden, summer skies.
And if clearing doesn’t bring a ray of hope by the end of a wet weekend, Autumn can be a daunting and uncertain prospect.
If you look in the dictionary, you will find the other ‘august’ is a word meaning venerable and imposing. It all sounds very scary.
However, all is not lost. September can bring un-seasonal sunshine and Indian Summers. It can be a month of serendipity.
And if you go back to the dictionary, you will find that, if you leave aside ‘auks’ and ‘aunts’, August is nestled between ‘augury’ and ‘au pair’. The former is defined as an “omen or prophesy” while the latter describes a first taste of work often associated with foreign travel.
An unexpected interruption between school and university, even in an economic downturn, might mean things will start to look up for people who would otherwise have drifted along on an educational conveyor belt.
It can provide an opportunity to learn some lessons about life and to ask some deeper questions about who you are and what you really want to be.
Teachers and lecturers, who may well have spent their entire lives cloistered in classrooms and on campuses, may often give the distorted impression that your life story will be a logical progression of qualifications and appointments mapped out in a curriculum vitae.
Our education system does produce people like that. There are barristers working in the Inns of Court who have attended Oxford and Cambridge and England’s finest public schools. They live out their whole lives in neat quadrangles.
But for most people life isn’t like that. They work in jobs that didn’t exist when they left school and which they “fell into” by a mixture of whim and chance.
Many people find talents and life skills in the workplace they didn’t realise they possessed at school.
A successful conference producer I know took his A Levels in the 1970s when the exams were graded A, B, C, D, E, O(for O-level) and F for Fail, a word almost completely excised from today’s assessment language. His results transcript read bluntly: F O F F. It may not be his happiest memory, but he didn’t let his August angst hold him back.
And it is often the same story with people who have prospered in life. Their success may well be built on chaos, chance or charisma. Three Cs can be a source of pride.
Tom Hill founded Up To Speed Journalism four years ago and has worked as a journalist for ITN, Sky News, GMTV and the BBC.
He has also worked as a university admissions tutor.