Today is results day for hundreds of thousands of GCSE students up and down the UK – perhaps you’re one of them. If you didn’t get the results you were hoping for, or even if you did, you might well be wondering what your next steps should be to obtain your dream career.
The good news is that there are always great options open to you. Anyone can come back from poor grades – you don’t have to let a few letters on a piece of paper determine the rest of your life.
In England it is mandatory to stay in education or training until the age of 18, but this wasn’t always the case. Prior to 2013, students had the opportunity of dropping out of school after Year 11 and entering the world of work right away.
You shouldn’t feel restricted however as plenty of options are available that weren’t always there in years past. But you may have to act quickly to set yourself up for the best possible career in future.
Here are some of the paths you can take following your GCSEs:
Do what you enjoy
Maybe you still don’t know what you really want to do for a living. That’s okay – it takes many people years to really find their calling, but it doesn’t mean they can’t do something they get enjoyment from and get paid while they’re doing it!
You can stay on for sixth form studying the subjects you find interesting, whether or not you really have a career in mind. When you do find your calling, it could well be something relating to those topics anyway. Don’t worry too much – just enjoy your studies for now.
Work towards your career
The ideal situation would be to know what you want to do with your career, and to have the grades to make it happen. But unfortunately, you might not have got the results you were hoping for today.
This will obviously be quite distressing, but you don’t have to give up on your goals. Your current secondary school may not want you to stay on, but there may well be other sixth form colleges in the area (either attached to schools or standalone colleges) that will be happy to accommodate you.
Depending on your future goals, it might also be possible to take a vocational course or apprenticeship to help you get the skills and experience you need. Your school’s careers advisor can help you out here.
Remember too that you can revisit further education later in life, when you’ve got some more experience under your belt – you’ll still get to where you want to be, though it may take a little longer.
Combine work and education
Another option is to take the Higher National Diploma (HND) – a qualification that combines work and study. It’s possibly the most intensive option at this stage, but it also allows you to enter a university course at second or third year later on if you wish (known as ‘topping up’). It’s also a qualification valued by employers by itself.
Business and engineering are popular choices for those taking the HND, though all kinds of subjects are available.
Getting top GCSE grades is fantastic, and they’ll give you a definite boost, from A-levels, through university, your first job and through the rest of your career. But if your grades haven’t quite worked out as you’d like, it’s important not to give up now. Your dream career could still be well within your grasp. And don’t forget that you can always utilise your school careers advisor; make sure that you’re making the most of this resource while you have access to it.
Congratulations to all who got their results today. We wish you all the best of luck!