It is that unsettling time of year again when, just as teachers are encouraging their final year students to grasp the A Level nettle, the universities start inviting some for interviews, rejecting others and offering some tantalising grades apparently arbitrarily to the lucky ones.
Just when you want everyone to be concentrating on the complex aspects of the A2 syllabus, sixth formers are thrust onto an emotional roller-coaster.
Schools, too, are caught in the same cycle. The government has decided there are not enough measures by which to judge schools and student destination is another good one to add to the list.
But this particular addition is not quite like the others because in order to make any sense of it, you have to believe some destinations are de facto better than others.
An unlikely critic of this approach has come in the form of Les Ebdon, the director of the Office of Fair Access.
He has said: “There’s such a dreadful snobbery about whether people go to university and which university they go to”.
This puts him at odds with many in the educational establishment who believe only Oxbridge and a handful of other universities really count.
Michael Gove, for example, believes there are thousands of grade A students who would love to go to Oxbridge if only their school had been bothered to tell them that such places existed.
But there are a lot of valid reasons why grade A students might choose not to apply to Oxbridge.
What constitutes a university’s reputation is complicated.
International league tables rely on publications and the status of academic stars rather than anything that is likely to impact on the life of the average undergraduate.
You may think it is wonderful to go to a university where the world’s expert in your area of interest resides, but the chances of you as an undergraduate having any contact is remote.
Your tutorials are far more likely to be run by a PhD student.
Les Ebdon thinks “students should be encouraged to fulfil potential in whatever subject that is”.
He is dismayed society undervalues apprenticeships, and we should be treating people as individuals. But of course measuring that is not possible – so much easier to pretend everyone should want to go to Oxbridge and has failed if they don’t.
•Sarah Evans, Principal, King Edward VI High School for Girls