What to do after A-Levels

A-level results day is upon us once again; a time of celebration, commiseration and evaluation for teenagers up and down the country – and for their parents too. Here, Anne Morris, founder of Yipiyap, offers her top tips on some of the options available after the big day has dawned.

1. Don’t stress.

Whatever happens, don’t stress. If things don’t go as planned take (several) deep breaths – no amount of hysteria or worry will change your grades. Accept your results then begin your research into the options that are now open to you. College and universities are no longer the only route to a good career, other options include apprenticeships, employer-sponsored degrees and scholarships. You might also consider re-takes, choosing a different university or course, or even taking a gap year…

2. Consider taking time out (and about!)

…While university might seem like the natural step, it¹s not the right answer for everyone. Exam results and A-level grades aren¹t the only things that employers look for – a gap year can often provide the perfect opportunity to boost CVs. Consider carrying out some voluntary work. This doesn¹t mean that you have to try to solve world hunger or cure cancer – a few days a week at your local charity shop or a couple of hours volunteering at a care home will do wonders for your CV. The sense of helping an important cause will also give you a feeling of accomplishment for doing something worthwhile. Visit gapadvice.org for more information taking a year out.

3. Learn on the job

If you are interested in starting work in a specific field then an apprenticeship could be the right option for you. As an apprentice you will study for qualifications while working – learning the skills you need for the job they are doing. To start an apprenticeship you must be 16 or over and not in full time education. There are three levels of apprenticeships encompassing those with average GCSE grades through to those with A levels or an Advanced Diploma. The benefits include earning a salary while learning; employability; getting paid holidays, training and qualifications as well as the potential to progress to degree level. There’s more chance of promotion and bonus too. Visit gov.uk/topic/further-education-skills/apprenticeships for more information.

4. Find a buddy

Whether you¹re off to university or travelling the world for 12 months, try to find someone who has recently done something similar. It¹s good to pick up first-hand tips and advice, as well as learning from others’ mistakes!

5. Aim higher – don¹t settle!

If your results come as a surprise in a good way and you’re counting the A and B grades instead of scraping Cs, it may be time to think about a different path. You don¹t need to settle for a university course that you applied for on a whim. UCAS have an adjustment service, whereby it’s possible to swap where you’re studying. If you’ve had a firm conditional choice accepted – and therefore made into an unconditional firm choice – you could potentially swap your place for one on another course you prefer. Adjustment is available 13-31 August 2015. It’s entirely optional, and a lot of competitive courses will be full – but other applicants might have missed their conditions or swapped a course too, so it could be worth seeing what’s available. Visit ucas.com for more information. And if you don’t find what you want that way, consider taking some time out and aiming for the bigger players in the league tables. You never know, you could be packing up for Oxbridge next year!