Another emotion filled A Level results day is upon us. 99% of people are either completely exhilarated or completely gutted, and then theres that 1% that are for whatever reason completely indifferent. Emotions aside, those in the completely gutted group are probably there as they didn’t manage to get the A Level results and thus UCAS points they needed to turn their conditional offers into unconditional ones. If you did not get the A Level results you needed the important thing is not to see it as failure. If you’re wondering what to do next, these are 5 options that are available to you.
This sounds like the obvious suggestion, especially as it’s probably your original plan B, but it isn’t always a preferred or viable option for some. I remember when I was applying for uni and I got conditional offers from the unis I wanted, but when it came to choosing my first and second choice I had a dilemma. Do I choose the best two universities that I actually want to attend, or have a second choice with a slightly lower barrier to entry. My first choice required 360 UCAS points which I unfortunately missed. Well, technically I got the points, but I got them over 4 A2 subjects and they wanted them over 3 A2 subjects, but need I digress. So second choice it was for me. However, through a combination of reasons one of which I’ll list later on, second choice wasn’t necessarily viable at the time, although looking back I think I should have given it further consideration. The lesson here isn’t for everyone. For some, as disappointing as missing your first choice might be, the second choice uni is still a viable option. But for those who may be against their second choice it’s a matter of reevaluating the feasibility of it as well as adjusting to and accepting it as your future.
If your second choice isn’t for you or you missed the mark with your A Level grades then clearing is another route. Although the initial phase is the nightmare of nightmares the system designed for those who didn’t have enough UCAS points or those who applied late has served many well. It’s a colossal rush as all who were greeted by disappointment upon opening their results scramble for the best vacant courses, clogging every university’s clearing phone lines in the process. The key to clearing is getting in as early as you can once you have your clearing code. I recommend identifying courses and unis that would suit you best. Just because you have to go through clearing doesn’t mean you should automatically compromise on your ambitions. As rushed and as manic as it all seems, the process is actually quite straight forward. Simply search your desired course once the system goes live, eg public relations, and the clearing system will provide you with up to date vacancies which you can then filter by institution or location if need be. Once you’ve identified courses of interest simply contact the uni on the provided clearing line and hopefully you will be successful. More details on the clearing process can be found here.
I went to college with one guy who redid his A2s twice, meaning a total of 3 years at A2, just so he could get the A Level grades he needed to get into the uni he so desperately sought. There’s nothing wrong with redoing something until you get it right and sometimes thats the necessary thing to do. Of course you want to avoid doing it as many times as the guy I mentioned if possible, but look at it this way, it’s only one year out of 70+, you still have the rest of your life ahead of you. If you’re 18 you can sort of see it as the equivalent of some of your mates that may be going on a gap year at the same time. Consider it a study year. ;-P
Sometimes when you miss the required grades at A2, unis might offer you a course that has a lower barrier to entry and at times may not even be in any way related to the course you initially applied to. Although this is an option these are usually courses with little student interest. In my case I did actually go down this route simply because my parents thought my first choice uni was more reputable than my second choice and being of african descent, reputation carries a lot. I however quickly began to refer to this as the failures course. It wasn’t compelling and it seemed as though everyone on it, including myself, was only there because they missed the mark with their A Level grades. So this option isn’t always viable, but on the off chance you get offered a course that is actually of substance and interest then it is worth the consideration.
As defined by Manchester Metropolitan “The Foundation Year is designed for students who have the ability to study for a degree but don’t have the qualifications to enter directly onto an honours degree.” Numerous universities will offer a foundation year on many of their courses. Rather than spend a year retaking your A2s it might be an idea to jump right into the uni life by taking a foundation year which will then lead to the full 3 years of study at degree level. Another option you may want to explore is the foundation degree which is a 2 year course that can then be topped up to full honours by taking a further year of study.
Whatever you decide upon the key is to not be disheartened by the fact you missed your required grades. What so often happens is students coast through GCSEs and as a result expect the same from A Levels. Grades do not define you and are not always a reflection of your intelligence. You shouldn’t think you’ve failed if you didn’t get your required UCAS points; ask yourself what you can learn from it and what can you do differently when you advance to uni. Let me know what you decide upon or whether there are any options I missed by commenting.
Image from Stratford Upon Avon College