This time last year we were awaiting Chloe’s A Level Results and it was a nerve-wracking time. I have waited on results day for many years first as a sixth form teacher and head of Sociology then later as a parent. I had sleepless nights in the run up to receiving the results let alone the teens I taught! Therefore when the National Careers Service who have partnered with Mental Health UK, got in touch with me and asked me to share this important factsheet I didn’t hesitate. I have written about Education and revision tips, and I shared teenagers starting university and also the the unfair truth about the cost of university previously. This post looks at a young persons options no matter what their results.
Opening exam results is a critical time for young people who will be thinking about their future and navigating crucial life decisions. With A Level results day (15 August 2019) just around the corner, it’s important for school and college students, and their parents, to start thinking about their options now.
The different routes on offer to young people are varied and personal and there’s no one set answer or perfect formula (if you get x, do y). Young people need to make sure that they are making the right decisions based on their own strengths, interests and all the options available. So here’s a quick guide to some of the routes on offer.
For students hoping to go to university…
University is a common option for those who want to continue on the path of education and focus on their subject of choice. If the student has met their conditional or insurance option offer, they can go ahead and accept the offer and follow the steps to enrolment. If results day didn’t go to plan, students should consider the below options:
If the student has exceeded the conditions of their conditional offer
ü Adjustment – If the student is in this position, they may be able to use Adjustment to find an alternative course, should they wish to. Adjustment is a chance for students to reconsider where and what to study and shop around to swap their university place for one on another course they prefer.
If exam results do not meet the requirements of any university offers….
ü Clearing – Clearing matches applicants to university places that are yet to be filled. It’s available to anyone who has made a UCAS undergraduate application and doesn’t hold any offers. According to UCAS 2018 Daily Clearing Analysis – last year, over 60,000 students were accepted through clearing.
ü Foundation degrees – Foundation degrees combine academic and workplace skills – they are ideal if students are unsure about taking a full degree or if they want to study while they work. Foundation degrees can also act as a stepping stone to undergraduate degrees if the student hasn’t met the initial grade requirements. They can be seen as a desirable qualification for the hospitality, healthcare and manufacturing industries, due to their practical nature.
ü Exam re-sit – For students unhappy with their exam results, there is the option to re-sit exams later in the year. This can give students the chance to get into their top choice of university if they didn’t achieve the grades first time round. An important point to consider is that getting an offer after re-taking an exam is tougher for the more competitive courses including Medicine and Law, so it’s important for students to speak with an adviser before pursuing this route.
ü Exam re-mark – If students are one or two marks off the grade they require to meet their first or insurance choices, they can request a review through their school or college. It’s best to do this as quickly as possible so they have the best chance of securing their place at university or college. Students must let their university or college choices know this is happening and keep them informed as the process moves along. The university or college may be able to keep the place while the student waits for the outcome. Students need to send their results to the university or college choice by 31 August – most don’t make decisions until then but of course there is no guarantee they’ll be given a place, even in the remark is a higher grade.
If university isn’t right other pathways include…
ü Full time employment/ start a business: If a young person is eager to pursue the world of work, then they can start applying to prospective jobs. Alternatively, if they have a good business idea, they could apply for a grant and start their own company. Candidates without a degree can pursue a range of job roles which are well paid and offer good career progression.
ü Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships are becoming a popular choice for school leavers. Apprenticeships combine study with practical training on the job and mean young people can earn a salary and gain a qualification at the same time. Students can take a higher apprenticeship which can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree. Students can also take a full degree apprenticeship, where they can achieve a full bachelors or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship. A degree apprenticeship combines studying part-time at university with working and can take up to six years to complete. Those interested can find out more via the National Careers Service website (https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/) and the government apprenticeship page (https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/).
ü HE College: Once a young person has left school they can move on to higher education (often called HE) in college. This means studying for vocational and competency-based qualifications including awards, certificates and diplomas. According to UCAS applicant figures data (2018), application rates for higher education facilities (including college) from English 18 year olds has reached a record high of 37.4%.
ü Gap year: If a young person is unsure which direction to take following A Levels, they can take time out of work and education and go explore the world. According to the YouGov Gap Year Survey (2019), 63% of HR professionals feel a constructive gap year where the student volunteered or undertook work experience makes a job application stand out. Travelling offers great cultural insight through opportunities such as working holidays, conservation and teaching.
If students are concerned, worried or just want to talk through their results they can call the Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 900 between the hours of 8am – 10pm for free, impartial, expert advice from trained career advisers. Support can also be found via the website at https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk.