Thousands of 18-year-olds will be out on the town tonight. Most will be celebrating their A level results, but some will be drowning their D-grade sorrows and feeling like utter failures.
Next week, it’s the turn of the GCSE students to punch the air in either jubilation or despair.
Even the victorious, though, may well have paid an enormously high price for their academic success...
Their mental health.
Exams are seriously stressing out our kids. For proof, listen to Childline. The service set up especially to protect children from abuse and neglect years ago by Esther Rantzen describes being inundated after a campaign urging kids having a hard time during the exam revision period to get in touch if they needed to talk to someone. Incredible; while parents think their sons and daughters are quietly and conscientiously swotting in their bedrooms, behind that closed door they are worrying themselves sick and emailing Childline.
Luckily there is an organisation able to take on the growing tide of distressed teenagers buckling under the pressure to attain high exam grades - nothing less than a straight flush of A-stars for some - and get into a top university. But how incredibly sad it is that kids feel so pressurised to perform.
Is it the fault of pushy parents and schools hellbent on their Ofsted results? Some of it is, for sure. It’s being drummed into them that if they want a decent career, they’ve got to get to uni - even though most of the young people I know who did -- my son included - are now doing jobs they could easily have got with A levels-only (and the hoops they had to jump through to get these jobs were virtually ringed with fire).
But, say Childline, social media is another cause. Kids whip each other into a frenzy via Facebook. They are in constant communication; they can’t turn each other off. Anxiety spreads like wildfire - and so does a pretty ruthless game of adolescent one-upmanship.