Thursday 15 August 2013




11/03/2013 Adam Desmonde

Its that time of year again, the morning news focuses on the young and nervous faces of students all over the country as they prepare to open envelopes containing their exam results.

As the interviewers start to ask the students the stock questions of;

‘How do you feel?’
‘Are you excited?’

I feel an all to familiar knot in my stomach and have to turn off the TV. 

You see a few years ago, on a day like today, I was also opening an envelope with a sticker bearing my name. In preparation for this moment I had spent months working night and day studying for my exams. Back at my house, beneath my revision plan and copies of past exam papers, there were folders filed with the notes I had hand written whilst studying at my old desk.

As far as I was concerned the envelope I held in my hand represented my entire future. I had to pass my GCSE’s, I had to pass my A levels, I had to go to University. There was no other path open or acceptable.

Everything had pointed me in that direction, the route was laid out and there was no room for deviation. I opened the results and began to read, and my world came crashing down.

Whilst I had never been good at exams I had always done well in class and in course work;

‘Has real potential’
‘Good in class’

These were the typical comments from teachers. The results in front of me however bore no relation to these assessments. My grades were poor and no where near to what I had hoped for.

I simply had no idea what to do. My parents were supportive, they had seen how hard I worked and of course we immediately began to talk of resists and so over the next few years I battled on.

I left my school and move to a local sixth form. I worked very hard and tried to stick to the only path I new. I always did well in class and whilst I new I was more than capable in my written work I still could not replicate that in exams.

At some point during my studies it was suggested that perhaps I might be Dyslexic and after being assessed I discovered I was indeed Dyslexic. It was not the traditional dancing letters dyslexia, instead my challenges were  in terms of spelling, handwriting and memory. 

For me this was one of the best moments of my life. With the issue finally identified I went out and learnt how to overcome and beat the challenges i faced and whilst examinations were still incredibly hard I eventually graduated with a degree in IT and Business.

Since then I’ve done well in my life. I work hard; I have created a number of businesses, built buildings, met amazing people and worked in some incredible locations. I'm very proud of what I have achieved.

I know today there are many young people who feel like that kind of future might now be impossible as they open their results and find themselves in a similar position to that I experienced all those years ago.

Trust me, as someone who has been there, your life is not over.

Whilst there seems to be little talk of anything other than University for young people these days it really is not the only path to success. There are many different options from apprenticeships to getting out there and starting a career.

I’m lucky to still have some very good friends from when I grew up and I also know a lot of people in the South West. Of that selection it is not those who went to University who have been most successful or most happy.

One friend went straight from school into work. He studied whilst on the job, gaining qualifications and work experience. As time went on he worked his way up within the company. He now earns an excellent salary, lives in a dynamic and beautiful city, owns several properties and loves his job.

Another person I know did poorly in his exams and also decided to go straight into work. He worked his way up in the company and went on to be one of the most successful businessmen in Cornwall with an incredible waterfront home and a company which is known around the country.

Of those who went onto University not all have done so well. Many have gone on to work in industries, which had nothing to do with their degree. They were in debt and they lacked valuable work experience. Consequently they have struggled.

Those who have done well from further education are those who have studied subjects, which demand academic experience. Friends who are engineers, jet engine designers, and doctors studied subjects that directly related to their career and were taught by people who were at the cutting edge of their fields. They were academics and their time at University was their version of work experience.

The point is that there are many different people, with different skills in our society. My grandmother was a hairdresser, my grand father was a merchant seaman as they always said people will need haircuts and people will need ships to deliver goods.

If you’ve had a bad day today, sit down and talk honestly with your family about your future, what you might like to do and what interests you. Then go and talk to other people, you might even want to talk with someone like me about what you might like to do in the future. Look outside of the academic bubble you find yourself in and you’ll see there are incredible opportunities for everyone.

If you’re prepared to work hard and believe in yourself you will succeed. I believe in you.

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