The next few days are among the most important - and anxious- so far in the lives of thousand of Lancashire teenagers.
As A Level results, and equivalents, drop through the mailbox decisions will have to be made that could affect the rest of their lives.
According to the experts more than three quarters of A Level students who want to go to university are likely to get into their first choice.
But, if you don’t make the grade it is not the end of the world.
Last year a record number of students – nearly 67,000 - found university places through Clearing – a system which helps universities match students who don’t have a place to courses which still have space.
Helen Thorne, Ucas director of external relations says: “This summer we expect most universities and colleges to be offering places through Clearing and there will be opportunities across the full range of subject choices.”
You can only enter Clearing once you’ve got your results but don’t have a confirmed place. Now, more than ever, students are using Clearing to apply to university directly for the first time, submitting a full Ucas application after they’ve completed exams – numbers of direct applicants rose by 14 per cent last year.
While universities won’t accept you through Clearing until you have results to hand, you can do a lot of legwork beforehand if you think you may have missed your grades – and remember your first choice university could still accept you on the day even with slightly lower grades.
The National Careers Advice Line says: “ Families, friends and teachers can often be quite emotionally invested in your exam results, so it’s smart to seek out an expert’s opinion on your next steps. The best place to go for this advice is the Exam Results Helpline – the official service set up especially for those who have received their results and want to talk through their options.
“When you call, the Helpline’s careers advisers will chat through your situation and work with you to develop a plan. The Exam Results Helpline is a free service and will be open 8am – 10pm 7 days a week. It can be reached on 0800 100 900.
The best thing you can do, say the experts, is stay calm and focus your energy into figuring out your next steps.
Every year millions of students get through exam week and are sitting happy in successful jobs today- whatever the outcome of their exams.
Higher and degree level apprenticeships are becoming a popular alternative to traditional university study for young people across Lancashire.
After leaving school or college, an apprenticeship can provide the unique opportunity to gain a wealth of on-the-job experience that otherwise wouldn’t be gained in the classroom, as well as a salary and industry recognised qualifications to match.
Linzi Monks, head of apprenticeships at Preston’s College, said: “A higher or degree level apprenticeship is the professional alternative to a traditional academic degree and learners can still gain all the necessary qualifications suitable for the industry.
“An apprenticeship provides a credible first step onto the job ladder, with less post-university graduate programmes becoming available following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy on larger organisations.
“For some young people it’s a question of finances. Would you rather go to university and build up large levels of student debt or work for a company, gain a salary and have your qualifications paid for?”
Leyland Trucks’ HND engineering apprentice Daniel Taylor thinks he has developed more skills in the workplace than he otherwise would have done at University.
Daniel said: “I’d originally planned to go to university after my A Levels – I’d applied without ever thinking about apprenticeships.
“I think the perfect apprentice is someone who is willing to gain experience both through real life work and through the educational route. You gain skills that you just don’t get through the university route and you get to do real work while getting qualified.”
If you’re awaiting A-levels exam results and planning to go to university, it’s important that you get your head around the Clearing process – even if you’re feeling confident you’ll get the results you want.
•Whether you think you want to work in advertising, or you want to work for a big car manufacturer – look up your dream job and understand all the different ways you could get there. Know all your options.
•Understand university isn’t the only route.
Nowadays through an apprenticeship you can become a lawyer or an engineer and get a degree.
So don’t assume that university is the best and only path for you.
There are currently thousands of apprenticeship vacancies listed online – you never know – your dream employer may be looking for an apprentice to start as soon as possible.
•To find out more about jobs and the types of: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/job-profiles/home
•To find out more about apprenticeships go to: https://www.getingofar.gov.uk/
•Browse current apprenticeship vacancies by visiting: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch