What happens if A level results don’t go how you hoped?

A level results day can be a fraught time as you’ve pinned your hopes and next steps on getting the grades you need for a particular course at a particular university. But if things don’t work out how you hoped, there are alternatives for you to consider.

  • Just missed your grades – you may still find that your first choice is possible as the university may decide to offer the place to you anyway via a ‘changed course offer’ meaning that it is now an unconditional offer. Check your UCAS hub.
  • Look at your secondary offers or options. In the eyecare sector, many students who originally had set their heart on a degree in medicine will opt for a degree in optometry instead as it still offers the opportunity to cover medical aspects and interact with patients.
  • Clearing may also offer alternatives for you
  • Retaking A levels and reapplying next year could be your desired choice. Look to use the extra year to get some relevant work-based experience in your desired career.
  • You could take a year off from study and work, a gap year. A large number of students take advantage of that time to travel and gain new experiences and insights.
  • Look at apprenticeships as an alternative that allows you to earn as you learn. An apprenticeship can be an exciting way to gain your qualification whilst getting valuable on the job learning and experience too. Apprenticeships are available at different levels and in countless different subjects.
  • Investigate alternatives such as vocation-based qualifications. Another example from the eyecare sector is that of becoming a Dispensing Optician (DO). The entry requirements for the courses are at GCSE level and not A level and the qualification that you will gain is at level 6 so equivalent to that degree you were aiming for. There are many methods of study to become a DO including two years full time with a pre-registration year or working full time in a practice whilst undertaking three years distance learning (usually blended learning as it will include blocks at college or university where you get face to face tuition).
  • Enter full time employment not linked to qualifications. There are many students who take this route each year and enter the job market. There will still be development opportunities at many companies including internal training programs, so it is worthwhile asking about these when you attend interviews. Employers will often look to sponsor employees in study and qualifications after a time of employment too.

So, following the advice from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Don’t Panic!

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