ON this day, in the summer of 1986, I was on the cheese and onion line at Seabrooks Crisps, packing boxes and wondering what the future held.

By teatime, my world had fallen through. I had to wait until I got home for my A-level results - no text back then and, with a summer job at the crisp factory, I couldn’t go to school for them. Opening the ominous brown envelope, I looked at my grades, and my future was a black hole of nothingness. My results were okay, but not good enough for Durham University, a place I’d fallen in love with when I went for an interview there.

In the end I went to another university, and had the time of my life. But I still remember standing in the kitchen, staring at that piece of paper, tears falling down my face.

Today online news and TV reports will be awash with bright young things leaping about, waving their A***** (or however many stars they get these days) results slips and punching the air. You won’t see so many of the red-eyed, sobbing kids dissolving in a pool of despair in the corner...

A-level results day is a huge milestone in a young person’s life - the culmination of two years of hard work, and months of intense revision. A-levels were the hardest things I did, much more than my degree. There’s so much pressure, and when you don’t do as well as you’d hoped you feel you’ve let yourself, your teachers and parents down. That’s how I felt, anyway.

Young people seem even more stressed-out today. In the last year Childline delivered 1,414 counselling sessions to youngsters worried about exam results, the fourth year-on-year increase, with many suffering panic attacks.

Thankfully not my nephew, who gets his results today and is so chilled I wonder how it can be humanly possible, given the ball of stress I was at his age. I wish I’d been zen like him. But the big difference is that he has made up his mind he’s not going to university. He considered it, went to open days and got some offers, but now seems more interested in getting onto the employment ladder. Since he was 16 he's had a weekend job that he enjoys, he likes earning money, he’s proved to be hardworking and diligent - even getting up at 4am for some shifts, something many teenagers would baulk at - and now he wants to start carving a career.

I look at him and wonder would I have taken a different path if I’d had the options open to young people now? Back in 1986 the only path for me was university. At 18, I wasn’t ready for the world of work, and even if I was there weren’t the quality apprenticeships and vocational courses of today. There was just YTS, which sounded bleak and was for younger school-leavers.

It was drummed into me that a degree would open up career opportunities, and place me on a higher salary scale. This proved not to be the case - people I know who didn’t go to university (some left school without A-levels, others with barely any qualifications), went on to earn much more than me.

I feel for today’s young graduates, starting adult life swamped in debt and fighting for a small pool of jobs. University isn’t a decision to be made lightly and, thanks to organisations like the excellent Connexions Bradford, young people are helped to make the right choices for them, whether that’s further education, training, apprenticeships or other employment paths. These choices will shape their lives, so must be made wisely.

I loved university, but I’ve never felt that I’ve benefited from being a graduate. Did I make the right choice in 1986? I don’t know. I didn’t really feel I had a choice back then.

* ACCORDING to a press release that landed in my inbox, parents will have "officially reached summer holiday breaking point" by now. It says parents admit to hiding from their kids in the bathroom, to get some peace and quiet, and one in five find the summer holidays the most stressful time of year.

Top challenges for parents over the long break include keeping the kids entertained and finding activities for the whole family to do. Youngsters bickering and moaning that they're bored is also making parents frazzled.

News flash - it's okay for children to be bored sometimes. They don't have to entertained, at huge expense, all the time. They should be capable of finding something to do themselves. It's what generations of children did before them.

* FEMALE radio presenters have come under fire recently, and I think some of the criticism is justified. But I will defend Lauren Laverne, recently labelled "lightweight" in one article.

Like many listeners of Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, I was sad to see former presenter Kirsty Young step down, due to ill health, but I think Laverne (pictured) is great at the helm of the much-loved show. Clearly spoken, intelligent, witty, empathetic, she appears to actually care about, and understand, what her guests are saying...something other female broadcasters, of the brash, fawning kind, could learn from.