The big day has arrived or arriving, and with it many possible destinies. Let's look at some situations you may be faced with when you get your A-level results and gives the low-down on your options.
Judgement day is here at last, which means one or two years of hard work are reduced to one small envelope and a few vital letters of the alphabet.
But while the contents of that envelope will determine what options are now available to you, they are not an irrevocable sentence. Whether your results leave you rushing to toast your success or desperate to drown your sorrows, you still have a range of choices. Here, we examine the different scenarios and action you may want to take in each case.
1 You have the grades you need to satisfy one of your offersCongratulations! You can now kick back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you have a guaranteed university place.
Applications for places increased by 9.7 per cent this year, as many A Level students were reluctant to enter the uncertain job market. So you definitely deserve to celebrate.
But, as the relief floods in, remember that your first term will be much less stressful if you take care of university paperwork in advance. In particular, you need to book accommodation and get your finances sorted.
2 You have higher grades than you expected
For the first time, candidates with higher-than-expected grades can officially shop around for something better. Ucas has introduced “Adjustment”, a period of five days (including weekends) from the day your first-choice university confirms its offer. During this time, you can try to upgrade to another course or university, without fear of losing your original place.
Given the large numbers of applicants this year, competition could be tough. However, Darren Barker, of Ucas, says he is not anticipating a higher-education version of musical chairs. “I don’t think many people will be moving around,” he says. “But it’s a case of seeing how it goes.”
Eligibility for Adjustment depends on the offers you’ve already received, so take a look at the rules on the Ucas website before you embark on fruitless telephone calls. And Gerald Pryke, adviser with the UK Government careers service Connexions, warns against making any impetuous decisions. “Is it right to change institutions within such a short space of time?” he says. “Remember that you spent a long time making your original choices.”
3 Your grades do not meet either of your offersNot getting the grades for either your first-choice or your insurance offer can be a devastating experience. But it does not necessarily mean the end of your academic ambitions.
“Don’t despair,” says Delyth Chambers, an admissions consultant who has worked at Manchester and Birmingham universities. “As people’s grandmothers say, sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Think about your choices.”
The Ucas system is computer-run, so if you have failed to make the required grades, its website will automatically show that you have been rejected.
But people don’t work like computers. So telephone the universities that have made you offers and speak to an admissions tutor. “Phone them, phone them,” says Beverley Woodhams, head of recruitment at the University of Greenwich.
“If you only missed your offer by a little bit, they may still accept you.”
Anyone who fails to make the grades for their insurance offer is automatically entered into clearing. But, with 60,000 more people applying to university in the recession this year, clearing is going to be highly competitive. This is particularly true of vocational courses. This means that speed and efficiency will be vital if you want to find a place through clearing .
“Be organised,” says Chambers. “Things happen quickly. You’ll find the right place if you have the right grades. But you need to be ready to pick up the phone and start contacting institutions.”
However, don’t feel under pressure to accept an offer immediately. Most universities hold open days over the weekend of August 22-23, and tutors should be happy to allow you to visit the campus before making a decision. “You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without trying them on,” Woodhams says. “So please don’t think about going to a university for three or four years without visiting it first.”
If you can’t find a place through clearing, first consider whether that course is really right for you. If you’re absolutely certain, it may be worth taking a year out and resitting your exams. But this is not a decision to be made without proper research. Talk to teachers and university tutors. “In some institutions, candidates are asked to get better grades in resits,” says Pryke. “Or resit candidates may be seen as weaker, and not considered. Don’t embark on studies that are not going to benefit you. “Also, how will you fill your time when you’re not studying? Admissions tutors will want to know what else you've done during the year.”
4 You've planned a gap yearIf you've made the grades, go and enjoy, but if you haven’t, you may need to adjust your gap-year plans. Also, a year off can provide time to rethink your university choices, away from the panicked rush of the clearing stampede. Consider taking a few months to look carefully at different courses or universities, then reapplying later this autumn.
Or look into work-based apprenticeships and trainee schemes. Teachers and careers counsellors/advisers should be happy to help you with CV-writing and interview techniques. “For young people, as well as their parents, teachers and tutors, this is an extremely tense time,” says Pryke. “But remember that things can always be worked through.”
By: Zafar Ali Khan
Zafar Ali Khan [ZAK] is an O/A level Computer Science Pakistani educator, entrepreneur, and former programmer. He supports a free online education platform www.zakonweb.com to impart O and A level resources. His resources include notes, video lectures, online discussion groups, an artificial intelligence based virtual assistant, upcoming Android and IOS based apps and a website.
ZAK is teaching a wide spectrum of learners, mainly focusing on Computer Science 2210 and 9608. ZAK has a stellar online following, which is evident from his 50,000+ online followers. These exist wherever CIE is offered.
ZAK has taught in many auspicious and renowned institutes throughout Karachi for the past 18 years. His teaching methods coupled with his most innovative digital resources helped students achieve outstanding grades including distinctions in CIE. ZAK is an associate of The Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), which is a Parastatal body, working under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources of Mauritius. ZAK's yearly seminars and one-day marathon classes are very famous among the learners.
Before opting for a full-time teaching profession, ZAK has had the privilege of being associated with renowned public and corporate organizations. He has worked in a diversified array of the large local and international corporations both as a part of them and as a consultant. This wide array of organizations commence from Pakistan Army Engineering Corps to the Galileo Emirates, Dubai and The Acutus NY, USA. Industries that ZAK has experienced with, before opting for a teaching profession, are engineering, pharmaceutical, digital video R&D and customer reservation system (CRS). His expertise as application developer, IT administrator, project manager and IT teacher in a wide variety of business applications has always helped him in innovating teaching styles and resources.
ZAK can be reached at: