Didn't quite make the grade?

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With the school term finished for the year and exam results received, sixth form students around the country will now be considering their next move. For those lucky ones who received the grades they hoped for, come September they'll be starting at their chosen university. But there are many who didn't get the results needed to enrol on their courses. So what happens next?

If you still want to go to university, there is a chance to get in through clearing, which will allow you to apply to universities but only to courses that have vacancies. This may suit some people very well, and if you are keen to get into uni straight after your A Levels then be quick about checking the clearing listings before the places get snapped up. Alternatively, you may find that there aren't any courses that interest you, if so then take this time to find out what other opportunities are available. Spend some time thinking about what your interests are and what skills you have and would like to have.

There are many jobs that require more practical courses than you find at university and for many of these you can undertake apprenticeships. Instead of being a poor student, you'd be able to learn the skills you need while earning money on the job. These usually take the form of an NVQ and cover careers from beauty to agriculture, media and the leisure industry.

Getting a full-time job will earn you more money and you can work your way up from there. If you wanted to study again sometime in the future, you could apply to uni as a mature student using your work experience to secure a place. Alternatively you might need some time out to really think about what you want from life. A gap year could be the perfect solution. It needn't be spent lying on a beach and drinking (fun as that would be). Gap years can involve teaching English abroad, doing volunteer care work, working as an au pair or doing a placement abroad with a magazine or television station. You could learn some skills on a gap year that will set you up for a great career when you come back. So if you didn't quite make the grade, don't panic! There are plenty of alternatives to university.

Are you entering university clearing or thinking of alternatives? Or is your son or daughter unsure what to do with themselves? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.