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After A-Levels

Once you’ve got you’re A-Level results it can feel like for the first time in your life your future is not being decided for you. Before then it can seem like you’re on an educational conveyor belt of primary school to secondary school and GCSE’s to A-Level’s; but now you’re free to look at your options and decide for yourself what it is you’re going to do next. Of course for many people picking up their results they will already have decided, and successful grades will mean they already know they will moving on to their chosen university come September; but for others, whether because their grades did not quite meet the plan they had, or because they hadn’t chosen one yet, it is only now, as the dust settles, that they are seeing the new decisions to be made and the world of opportunities that awaits them.

So what are the options available? First off, it’s important to try and approach the situation with a clear mind. Even though school finished a while ago, the whole trauma of exams is never truly over until the results have been dealt with. On top of that, there’s plenty of clichés and stereotypes over what you’re expected to do next, to run over in your head. It’s important to leave both of these behind and try to gain a clear perspective of where you are. When you do, no matter what results you’ve taken from you’re A-Level’s, you’re likely to find that there is much more available than you first thought.

One of the advantages of not going to university at this stage is staying at home. There’s nothing strange about that, it makes sense in many ways: you get to live at home, save money, and continue many parts of your life that you’ve built and enjoyed, such as jobs and relationships. Even if university still excites you as a possibility in the future, there’s no rush anymore; there are plenty of ways that University can be made even more accessible, and financially doable a few more years down the line.

There are other options away from education, such as work or travel; leaving the books aside for a year and learning a bit more about yourself. For many people this is the way to go: there is an urge to get into the working world and earn your first pay packet, a desire to ignore university and begin what feels like your real life that bit sooner. This doesn’t mean settling for a lesser career. Many good jobs don’t require university education, and in some circumstances you can even benefit from getting in the door earlier than those who went to university.

Of course, going straight into full time employment can also sound daunting. For some people the prospect of taking a break and going travelling is much more appealing. The idea of seeing different parts of the world and finding new experiences is appealing in itself, and at this stage carries the extra value of giving you the chance to clear you head and think about what you want to do next. This comes at a price of course, and a gap year – particularly the one most students dream about – is expensive. The compromise may be that you have to work for a few months in the first half of the year, to pay for travelling in the second six months; while volunteering along the way in the different countries you visit can also help with accommodation, and has the added advantage of looking good on your future CV.

All of these options are viable and interesting, and are regularly opted for by thousands of students. South West College is a resource for all of them. If you haven’t got into university this time around, South West College can offer alternative paths; foundation degrees and access courses can mean you study at South West College for a few years before continuing on to university. If you have the urge to get into the working world, higher level apprenticeships at the college endorse learning by doing, bring students into working environments and allow them to earn a wage rather than build up debt, and provide real industry experience as well as the class-room-taught theory behind it. Likewise, if you’re looking to go into work, either full time, or part time as a means to save money before you go travelling, part time courses let you add to your CV and up-skill while you do so. Either way, no matter what way your A-Level results went, or what your plans are from here, South West College can ensure that there are plenty of new and exciting opportunities for you to explore.

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