What to Do After A-Levels: Making Informed Decisions for Your Future

October 24, 2023
5 min read
Cress Warnell

After completing your A-Levels, it's crucial to make informed decisions that will shape your future.

At this pivotal time you will have many options available to you, and choosing the right path can greatly impact your career and personal growth.

In this article, we will explore the various options that await you after A-Levels, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of what lies ahead. Whether you are considering higher education, apprenticeships, a foundation degree, gap years, school leaver programmes or alternative routes, we will provide valuable insights, helping you to make an informed decision that aligns with your interests and ambitions.

You should gain a clear overview of the available opportunities, and be equipped with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about the direction you want your life to take after A-Levels.

Understanding A-Levels Results

After all the hard work and dedication you will have put into A-Levels, it's important to understand your results and what they mean for your future. Let's delve into the A-Levels grading system, and discuss some of the different outcomes. We will try our best to provide guidance on interpreting your results and seeking advice if needed.

How A Levels are graded

The A-Levels grading system consists of grades A*, A, B, C, D, and E, with A* being the highest and E being the lowest grade. Each grade reflects the level of achievement in a particular subject.

In order to calculate your results, your performance in each subject is assessed through either one of, or a combination of; exams, coursework, and practical assessments. These assessments are then awarded a mark which is converted to a grade using predetermined grade boundaries set by exam boards for the relevant subjects.

Different Outcomes and Implications

Your A-Levels results can have various implications for your further education or career choices. Let's explore the different outcomes and what they may mean:

  • Grade A* and A: These grades, being the highest, are sought after as they indicate exceptional academic performance. They can open doors to prestigious universities and competitive courses, even making it easier for you to make your way into niche job sectors that would otherwise be hard to attain a job in.
  • Grade B and C: These are still considered good grades, and can lead to a wide range of higher education options. Many universities and degree apprenticeships accept students with these grades, and they can also be valuable for apprenticeship programs.
  • Grades D and E: While these grades may not meet the entry requirements of some universities, they do not necessarily mean the end of your educational journey. There are many alternative paths you can consider, such as foundation degrees courses, a degree apprenticeship, vocational qualifications or going straight into a job role of your choice.

Understanding your A Level results can be challenging, especially if they were not what you were expecting. It's crucial to seek advice from teachers, career consolers, or mentors who can provide guidance and help you make informed decisions about your future - don't forget that Oxford Summer Schools will also be here for you if you are feeling lost or stuck on where to start after A Levels.

Explore Higher Education Options

After completing A-Levels, it is important to consider your higher education options carefully. This is an exciting time in your life where you have the opportunity to delve deeper into a subject of interest to you, and to gain valuable skills that could be useful in your future career.

There are various avenues you can explore when it comes to higher education. The most common options include universities (there is also the option to take open university - which involves online or distance learning as opposed to in person lectures), colleges, apprenticeships, internships and vocational training. Each path offers unique advantages and caters to different career goals.

Here is our helpful guide, designed to help you navigate the many different paths available.

Benefits of Higher Education

Going to university in order to gain a higher education can provide numerous benefits, and often opens doors to long-term career prospects.

Not only does it provide you with in-depth knowledge and understanding of a specific subject, but it also can equip you with valuable transferable skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. These types of skills will be vital no matter what industry you later move into, so learning them as a young person will prove hugely beneficial.

Researching and Choosing the Right University For You

Researching and selecting the right university or institution for you and your selected course is crucial for ensuring a fulfilling higher education experience.

You should consider factors such as:

  • reputation
  • course quality
  • teaching staff
  • accreditation
  • opportunities for practical experience
  • internships or placements
  • course offerings
  • location
  • campus facilities
  • student support services

Attending open days and speaking with current students can provide valuable insights.

Explore different courses that align with your interests and career aspirations. Consider the course structure, modules offered, assessment methods, and any additional opportunities or specialisations available within the course.

Understanding the Application Process

The application process for higher education varies depending on the institution and course. It's important to familiarise yourself with the deadlines, required documentation, personal statements, and any additional steps in the selection processes, such as interviews or entrance exams, that are relevant to your particular course or university.

By carefully considering these aspects, you will be better prepared to make an informed decision and embark on a further education or apprenticeship scheme journey that aligns with your goals and aspirations, while allowing you to gain experience and build new skills.

Financial Planning and Support

If you have decided to pursue further education after A-Levels, it is crucial to consider the potential financial implications. Understanding the financial aspects and planning ahead will ensure a smooth transition into higher education.

Higher education comes with certain costs and expenses that need to be taken into account. These often include tuition fees, accommodation costs, textbooks, study materials, and living expenses. By understanding the potential financial implications, you can better prepare for the financial challenges that may arise. Consider your tuition fees as well, as they vary depending on the course and institution you choose. It is important to research and understand the fee structure of different universities or colleges. Additionally, student loans are often available to help cover tuition fees and living costs. Scholarships and grants may also be available based on academic achievements or other criteria. Exploring part-time work options can provide an opportunity to earn income while studying.

Alternatives to University

Take a gap year.

A gap year is often a valuable option for students who have just left sixth form or college. It provides an opportunity to take a break from formal education and explore various activities that can contribute to personal and professional growth.

During a gap year, there are several options that can make the time productive and enriching. Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • Volunteering opportunities: Engaging in volunteer work can help young people to develop empathy, leadership skills, and a sense of community. There are numerous organisations that offer volunteering opportunities both locally and internationally.
  • Internship programs: Participating in internship programs can provide practical work experience and allow individuals to gain insights into specific industries or professions. This can be a great way to explore potential career paths.
  • Travel experiences: Travelling and taking time to learn more about the world through first hand experience during a gap year will broaden horizons, while providing you with exposure to different cultures and ways of life. This can enhance interpersonal skills and offer valuable life experiences that you will not have without the experience and independence you will gain from travelling.
  • Get a job - this could be temporary or part-time: Working in temporary or part-time positions of paid work allows young individuals to earn money, gain work experience, and develop essential skills such as time management and teamwork. While you could get a part time position at the same time as being in university or pursuing further education, taking time to dedicate purely to working and understanding the way you should conduct yourself in the working world can later prove invaluable - for both future knowledge and to potential employers.

Apply for an Apprenticeship.

In addition to a gap year, degree apprenticeships - or regular apprenticeships which you do not get a degree through - are another alternative worth considering. Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to gain practical work experience while studying. They combine on-the-job training with classroom learning.

Apprenticeships offer several benefits, including:

  • Practical work experience: Apprenticeships provide hands-on experience in a specific industry, allowing individuals to develop practical skills that are highly valued by employers.
  • Paid learning: Apprenticeships often offer the opportunity to earn a salary while studying, reducing the financial burden compared to traditional higher education such as taking an undergraduate degree.
  • Industry connections: Through apprenticeships, individuals build professional networks and establish connections within their chosen industry, which can be valuable when it comes to future career opportunities.

Understanding the application process for apprenticeships is essential. It typically involves submitting an application online, attending interviews, and possibly undergoing assessments to demonstrate suitability for the chosen apprenticeship program.

Explore Careers and Industries

After completing your A-Levels, it's important to consider and explore different career paths to determine the best fit for your interests and skill set. Researching various industries and professions will provide valuable insights into the opportunities available, and help you make informed decisions about your future.

When starting your exploration, consider the following guidance:

  • Research Specific Industries or Professions: Take the time to delve deeper into industries or professions that pique your interest. Look for online resources, industry publications, and professional forums where you can gather valuable information about the day-to-day responsibilities, job prospects, and potential growth in your desired field.
  • Understand the Skills and Qualifications: Each career has its own set of skills and qualifications required for success. Research the educational requirements, certifications, and experience necessary to excel in the industry you're interested in. This will help you plan your next steps, whether it's pursuing a specific degree or gaining relevant work experience relevant to the particular career that you think sounds right for you.

By understanding the skills and qualifications needed for different careers, you can start building a roadmap to attain the necessary knowledge and experience. It's important to remember that career exploration is an ongoing process that requires continuous learning and adaptability - as you learn more about yourself and the career path you have an interest in, your views on whether it is something you can see yourself doing might change.

Personal Development and Skills Enhancement

Personal development plays a crucial role in shaping a successful future after A-Levels. It goes beyond academic achievements and focuses on honing skills and interests that can lead to personal and professional growth. Here are some examples of ways to enhance personal skills and interests:

  • Learning new languages: Acquiring language skills can open doors to international opportunities and improve communication abilities in a globalised world.
  • Taking up hobbies: Pursuing hobbies can not only bring joy and relaxation, but will allow individuals to develop new talents and explore new avenues of interest.
  • Joining clubs and societies: Being part of clubs and societies provides opportunities to build networks, collaborate with like-minded individuals, and develop leadership and teamwork skills.

Engaging in extracurricular activities offers numerous benefits that would be useful throughout degree modules, work placement, and then later on during employment:

  • Broadens horizons: Participating in extracurricular activities exposes individuals to new experiences, cultures, and perspectives, expanding their understanding of the world and their place within it.
  • Enhances interpersonal skills: Activities like public speaking, organising events, or mentoring others can improve your communication, negotiation, and leadership abilities.
  • Boosts resumes and college applications: Involvement in extracurricular activities demonstrates commitment, passion, and a well-rounded personality, making individuals more appealing to universities and employers.
  • Fosters personal growth: Extracurricular activities provide opportunities for personal achievement, self discovery and development, and building confidence.

Cultivating personal development and actively enhancing skills and interests contribute significantly to a bright and fulfilling future after A-Levels.

Network and Build Connections

Networking plays a crucial role in shaping your future career success after finishing your A-Levels. It involves connecting with professionals in your chosen field, building relationships, and using those connections for career opportunities and support.

Networking opens doors to a world of possibilities. By expanding your professional network, you increase your chances of accessing hidden opportunities that might not be advertised publicly. Building connections allows you to tap into the unspoken job market, where referrals and recommendations often carry more weight than traditional applications - the saying "it's not what you know, it’s who you know" is very often true, so don't disregard the benefits networking can provide.

Networking provides numerous benefits throughout your career journey. By fostering relationships with industry professionals,

  • you gain access to job opportunities that might not be advertised publicly.
  • These connections can recommend you for roles
  • or let you know about job availability, which will give you the opportunity to apply and get your foot in the door before anyone else even knows about it!

This increases your chances of landing interviews and securing desirable positions.

Networking also provides valuable support. By connecting with like-minded individuals, you can share insights, experiences, and advice. Additionally, networking allows you to stay up to date with industry trends, advancements, and new job openings, further enhancing your career prospects.

Building Connections in Your Field of Interest

To start building connections within the field that interests you, you can attend industry events, seminars, and conferences related to your field of interest, or by prevalent companies or individuals in the sector. These gatherings allow you the chance to meet professionals who share your passion and expertise. Be proactive by introducing yourself, asking questions, and showing genuine interest in others' work.

Online platforms such as LinkedIn offer opportunities to connect with professionals worldwide. Create a compelling profile that showcases your skills, education, and achievements. Engage in discussions, join relevant groups, and reach out to professionals for guidance or mentorship.

Additionally, informational interviews play a crucial role in expanding your network. Reach out to professionals in your chosen field and request a short conversation to learn more about their career journey. Always express gratitude for their time and advice.

Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey can be an exciting and rewarding career path after completing your A-Levels. Becoming your own boss, bringing innovative ideas to life, and creating a successful business from scratch are just some of the enticing aspects of entrepreneurship.

Starting a business entails both risks and benefits. It's important to weigh them carefully before diving into entrepreneurship. On one hand, you have the freedom to make your own decisions, pursue your passions, and potentially reap significant financial rewards. On the other hand, entrepreneurship comes with uncertainties, financial risks, and a considerable amount of hard work.

However, with proper planning, determination, and a solid business idea, the benefits can far outweigh the risks. Many successful entrepreneurs have gone on to build global brands and make a significant impact in their industries.

Seeking Support and Funding Opportunities

When exploring entrepreneurship opportunities, it's crucial to seek support from experienced professionals and organisations that specialise in helping aspiring entrepreneurs. These experts can provide invaluable guidance, mentorship, and resources to help you kickstart your business.

In addition, funding is often a critical aspect of starting a business. There are various funding opportunities available for entrepreneurs, such as grants, loans, and venture capital. Researching and applying for these funding options can provide the necessary financial boost to turn your ideas into reality.

Entrepreneurship can be a challenging journey, but you don't have to navigate it alone. Building a supportive network of like-minded individuals, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs can provide you with guidance, feedback, and a valuable support system.

Attending networking events, joining business associations, and connecting with entrepreneurial communities can open doors to new opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations. Don't underestimate the power of a strong network when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Remember, entrepreneurship requires perseverance, adaptability, and a willingness to learn from failures. Embrace the journey, take calculated risks, and seize the opportunities that come your way. Exploring entrepreneurship can be a fulfilling and impactful career path that allows you to leave your mark on the world.

International Opportunities

Looking to broaden your horizons after A-Levels? Consider exploring international opportunities that can provide you with valuable experiences and open doors to exciting new possibilities.

Studying or working abroad can offer an eye-opening experience that goes beyond the traditional classroom setting. It allows you to immerse yourself in a different culture, gain a global perspective, and develop a deeper understanding of the world than you would through traditional university study.

Exchange Programs, Internships, and Further Education Opportunities in Foreign Countries

Exchange programs are a popular choice for students who want to experience life in another country while continuing their education. These programs offer the chance to study at a foreign university for a semester or a whole academic year, exposing you to new teaching styles, academic challenges, and cultural experiences.

Internships abroad provide hands-on work experience in an international setting. They allow you to gain valuable skills, expand your professional network, and add an impressive global dimension to your resume.

If you're considering further education, many universities around the world offer undergraduate and postgraduate programs that cater to international students. This presents an opportunity to study in renowned institutions and gain a world-class education and professional qualifications.

Benefits of International Experiences - Personal and Professional Development

International experiences can have a profound impact on personal and professional development. It helps foster independence, adaptability, and cross-cultural communication skills. These qualities are highly sought after by employers and can give you a competitive edge in the global job market.

Additionally, studying or working abroad allows you to build a diverse network of friends, mentors, and professionals from around the world. This global network can open doors to future collaboration and international career opportunities.

So, if you're ready to embrace new cultures, expand your horizons, and gain valuable experiences, consider exploring the international opportunities that await you after A-Levels.

Summer School Programmes

If you are looking for a short term course to complete over the summer post A-Levels, Summer Schools has many subjects and locations to offer. A summer course will help you gain a better understanding not only of your chosen subject, but also an insight into yourself, what you value, and where you really want to go from here.

We can help you choose the best summer school for you whether you want to study in England, Australia or America. After completing your A-Levels, you might be wondering what to do next. It is important to take the time to explore your options thoroughly and make informed decisions about your future.

For further research and support, contact Summer Schools today - we are happy to offer advice or answer any questions you may have.

Cress Warnell

Cress is a skilled copywriter who transforms ideas into captivating content. With a passion for words and a keen eye for detail, she crafts compelling copy for Summer Schools, helping students explore their options in education.

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