Five tops tips for A-level students on results day

18 August 2016 | Focus | Thomas Peacock

It’s finally here, that day you’ve worked hard for and agonised over – A level results day. Your stomach is in knots of anticipation over what your future holds. Will you get the grades you need to go to the university of your choice? Will you have to rethink your chosen career path? Either way, you’ll have to make some big decisions over the coming days which will greatly influence your route to employment.

As you reach for the envelope, take a deep breath and consider the following: There are lots of different pathways in life to achieve your dreams. Here are our top 5 tips on how to make the most out of the results you’ve achieved:

1. Don’t panic: get advice, and lots of it

There are lots of people who will give you advice, but what you need is advice from people who know the job market and the education system required to set your sails on the right course. Talk to teachers, talk to careers advisers, talk to lecturers in university and colleges so that you can make an informed decision. You can also go on short courses that will help you decide what options are available and whether you should go down the route of trying to get a job, getting an apprenticeship or going to university.

2. Which university or college?

Deciding on what course you want to take at university is something you may have been considering for some time now, but it’s only when you have those results in your hands that the reality starts to hit. If you’re lucky and have achieved the grades you needed, you’ll be able to pick the course and university that most appeals to you. Whatever you do, don’t pick a course just because your friends are doing it. Everyone starts off new at university, so you won’t be alone! What’s more important is focusing on what your end goal is and whether the course you’re doing will give you the option to enter that career. One way to decide is to check the university rankings which show how well regarded the university is in the field that you are going to be studying.

3. Should I find a job?

Given that 49% of university graduates believe that they could have reached where they are in their career without a degree it’s not surprising that you may consider entering the workplace immediately. The issue here is that youth unemployment is at an all-time high in the last 20 years standing at almost 15%, so getting on the job ladder and progressing up may not be easy in the current market, especially in the wake of Brexit when recruitment is also down. However, students that are practical learners may thrive more in the real world where they are given “on the job” training, in an environment where they can develop these skills. The only downside to this is you won’t have a degree qualification in your chosen field which you can use to your advantage throughout your career, should you decide to change sector.

4. Should I find an apprenticeship?

Deciding on a practical apprenticeship is something only you can do. Recent research revealed that apprentices can earn up to 4 times as much as graduates, and they also get to skip university fees and the debt that goes along with university study which is a very attractive proposition. However, you must bear in mind that if you opt for an apprenticeship in plumbing, joinery, electrical engineering etc, that it will be in this field, and this field only, in which you will be trained, so if you were to change your mind about the sector, relying on the skills learnt as an apprentice will make it much harder to switch career paths. It is important to remember that trainees will face similar worries to graduates in that they also lack the finer business skills required to negotiate with clients, run a business and add immediate value which is a critical need for employers.

5. Should I repeat?

Just because you may have failed to reach the grade that you expected, now is not the time to give up! There are many options open to you from the university clearing process where lower grades will be considered for similar courses. Other universities other than your first choice may accept your grades. It may just be that you struggle with exams, not that you aren’t capable! Often students find that they’re more suited to coursework and a vocational course can lead to the same career as a more academic route, so college can be a good halfway house between school and university.

Either way, it’s important to take time to think about your future. Think about what it is you want to be doing in ten years’ time; what is it and who is it you would like to be? When you introduce yourself to people, what would you be proud to say you do and what steps do you have to take to make that dream come true?

Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the results you want, need or expected. What’s important is that you make the right choices for you, and you enjoy embarking on a new journey gaining the business skills you need to climb the ladder to your dream career!

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