Friday, 26 August 2016

Goodbye and Good Luck!

After another year of helping thousands of students who have got their exam results, the Exam Results Helpline closes on Wednesday 31 August at 15:00.

Our fantastic careers advisers have supported both GCSE and A Level students who got their results and were unsure of what to do next. They have talked through all of their options with them including Clearing, gap years, employment, apprenticeships, A Levels, college courses and more.

The feedback from the people who we have received helped has been excellent with young people (and their parents) thanking our service for providing guidance and advice that is otherwise unavailable to them.

We hope to be back next year ready to support the 2017 students but in the meantime good luck to you on whatever path you choose.

In our absence you might find these services helpful:

National Careers Service
The Student Room
Information on Apprenticeships

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Not sure what options are available to you after GCSEs?

Talk about A level results has dominated the news over the last week, but all 16 year olds and their families who are making their final plans for September and beyond need to know this: they might have been around since the 1950s, and everyone has heard of them, but A levels are not the only option!

For those students who feel ready for the world of work, there is a huge range of apprenticeships and traineeships available. By choosing this option, you get qualifications, a stack of work experience and the chance to progress in your chosen career too.

Or what about college courses? There are thousands of options available, courses awarded by long established and well recognised bodies: BTEC, NCFE, ASDAN, QCF, VRQ, an alphabet soup of qualifications, recognised by universities and employers, all with a practical focus to give you a head start if you do already have a sense of career direction.

And finally: the A level is not the only more academic advanced level course. The Pre-U Diploma, for example, and the International Baccalaureate are both well regarded qualifications which attract credit on the UCAS tariff system.

There are so many options available to you and the most suitable one for you will depend partly on your grades, and partly on any career goals you already have.

Speak to a careers adviser before making a definite choice. The Exam Results Helpline is staffed by professional, well qualified advisers and is open every day until 31st August on 0808 100 8000.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Parents! Has your teen got their results? Need some help in order to help?

  1. Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000 – save the number now! A room of highly skilled careers advisers are just a call away for both students and parents and can advise on anything from sixth form options, apprenticeships, colleges etc. You can also chat to careers advisers on the Facebook page.
  2. Is there a Careers or Connexions service near where you live?  They are staffed by skilled and impartial advisers, they are able to offer help to any new school leaver who is not yet fixed up with a place for September, and they are free for you and your son/daughter to visit and use.
  3. Have you looked at the UCAS Progress and the National Careers Service sites yet? They contain stacks of good information on the rules about leaving school, how to make wise choices, applying for apprenticeships, the differences between studying in a college and a school sixth form, and a thousand other things besides.  For anyone who struggles with some of the language in the world of schools and colleges, these websites are wonderful jargon-busters, and can make you feel a lot more confident when discussing these things with your child.  
  4. Is there somebody in your child's prospective college or sixth form who can offer advice? Lots of places are open mid-August onwards for exam results and enrolment.  They might not know your child ever so well, and of course you don't have to follow their suggestions, but it’s certainly worth hearing what is available, and how this could help your child to achieve their goals - especially if your child does do less well, or conversely ends up doing rather better than originally expected.
  5. Have you spoken with them?  You'd be surprised at how many of the parents I speak with haven’t!  I have worked with any number of students awaiting their exam results who have actually already made some pretty good choices for September, but have, erm, forgotten to mention this to their families.  Conversely, there are some students out there who could really benefit from their families supporting them via the suggestions I make above.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Got your exam results?

Are you disappointed with your exam results? Don’t know what to do next? Need help?

Don’t panic – there is help out there! In order to reach your goals you might just have to go down a slightly different route to get there.

 Here’s what to do if you haven’t got the grades you were expecting:

  • Take a deep breath – just take a minute to collect your thoughts and regain your composure. This really isn’t the end of the world (although it might feel like it right now) and there are things you can do to help yourself.
  • Consider Clearing – If you know that university is definitely the next step for you, use Clearing. We have a post on Clearing: Top Tips which should give you all of the information that you need. Clearing doesn’t open until 15:00 so you have time to think about all of your options.
  • Call the Exam Results Helpline – perhaps you have done better than expected or you just don’t know what to do next, or perhaps you have changed your mind; whatever your situation it really does help to talk. 

The Exam Results Helpline careers advisers have spoken to many people in the same position as you over the years and they are highly experienced at helping students in your position.

Just call 0808 100 8000 or have your questions answered on the Exam Results Helpline Facebook page.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

KISS FM presenter Pandora Christie supports Exam Results Helpline

We’re so happy that KISS FM presenter Pandora Christie is supporting the Exam Results Helpline this year.

Pandora wants to make sure that young people know about the service:

“Getting exam results is a nerve racking time. When I did my exams, there were subjects that I loved like English Language, Drama, History and Spanish so I enjoyed studying for them. But I really struggled with Maths and Science for some reason, I just couldn’t get my head around it even with extra tuition, I remember sitting in the exam room sweating and dreading it, looking at my physics paper thinking I don’t understand any of this can someone help?

When I got my results I found that I did well in most subjects... apart from maths and science which I got a D for. After my GCSEs I went straight into employment and signed up to a casting agency but I later went on to do an AS in Spanish.

I thought about going to university to do a drama degree but I started to get a lot of acting jobs so I never got round to applying. It’s funny the way that things work out and that’s why you shouldn’t despair or panic when you get your exam results!

When it’s time to get your exam results first of all don’t panic! The advisers at the Exam Results Helpline will be ready and waiting to give you the advice you need.”

Thursday, 4 August 2016

GCSE results – Three scenarios you could find yourself in on results day

Are you waiting for your GCSE results? Make sure you’re prepared. Here are three situations that you could find yourself in:

1. You got all the grades you hoped for, you already have a definite plan, and it's all systems go

Congratulations!  Before you sign on the dotted line though, do check that those A levels/that particular apprenticeship/the college course you're intending to do is pointing you in the right direction, and leaves open the right employment/university choices at the age of 18.

2. You got most of the grades you were hoping for, but just slipped up on 1 or 2?

Act quickly!  This actually might not be a problem, but you must speak to your chosen college or sixth form as soon as possible.  They might, depending on your grades, still let you do your original course choice, but ask you to do a retake in your maths or English as well for example. Alternatively, they might ask you to do an extra year, and get more grades at foundation or intermediate level before moving onto your first choice.

3. You are really disappointed with your grades and can't do what you wanted?

It is not the end of the world!  Just now it might feel like it, but it is not.  Again, you need to act pretty quickly: get in touch with the employer/college/sixth form you were hoping to progress on to, and check what they have to say.  If after speaking to them you need more help and advice, call us at the Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Clearing: Top Tips

Take your time: There is no rush to make any quick decisions. Clearing doesn’t open until the afternoon on A Level results day and so this gives you time to reassess and have a good think about what you want to do before you start the process.

Searching for courses: The first place to start is with the UCAS search tool. When you select where you normally live along with ‘Clearing 2016’, you’ll be shown all the available courses. The Telegraph will also publish all Clearing vacancies on Thursday 18th August and Saturday 20th August.

It’s good to talk: Calling the universities and colleges you’re interested in during the day to discuss the course is vital. If you are sufficiently well prepared and demonstrate your suitability and passion for the subject, you may receive a verbal offer which you can confirm later.

Confirmation of Clearing place: If the university confirm that they’ll accept you, you can then add the choice in Track in the ‘Your Choices’ section. Don’t forget that you can speak to as many universities and colleges as you like in Clearing, but you can only add one Clearing choice at a time – the one you want to accept.

Visit the uni: If it is at all possible during this process try to have a look around the university offering a clearing place before committing to it.

Acceptance: If the uni has offered you a place, they will update your status in Track to show you’ve been accepted. Congratulations you can now get ready to go to uni!

Need some advice? If you need any help at all during this process don’t forget to call the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. The careers advisers at the end of the phone are highly experienced and will be able to guide and support you through the process. No question is too small!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Holly used Clearing when she didn’t get the grades she was expecting

Name: Holly Laing
Age: 19
Address: Billingham

A Level results day last year
Holly missed out on her place at St Andrews University studying for masters in French, Spanish and Arabic.

“I got an A in English, B in English Literature and a C in French and although I knew I had done well, it wasn’t enough to get my original place. I really didn’t know what to do and just started to phone universities but had no luck.

I have never been so stressed about my immediate future! Everyone was posting their results and it had really hit me how I wouldn’t be going to the uni I was originally so set on.”

Next steps
Holly went onto Clearing to see what courses there were available to her and called the Exam Results Helpline for some advice.

“The adviser that I spoke to suggested that I should go and visit some of the unis that I was looking at to see if that would help my decision, which I did before accepting my place at Lancaster University. I have now just finished my first year and I hope to go on and achieve a masters in languages at possibly Oxford or Cambridge.”

How the Exam Results Helpline supported Holly

“If I hadn’t called the Exams Results Helpline I would have cried even more! I might have also missed out on some of the opportunities to study at some unis.”

Holly’s advice to this year’s students:

“Take a deep breath. I would say definitely visit the university that you have an offer for and see if you like it. Wherever you end up, as long as you stay positive and throw yourself into uni life, you will not regret your decision.”

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Exam Results Helpline: Ten Tips for Parents

Exam Results Helpline Careers Adviser Iwan Williams gives his top 10 tips for parents on how they can help their teenagers on A Level results day:

1. Be prepared for plan B: Before results day itself encourage your teenager  to start  thinking  about other courses and/or universities that they would be prepared to consider in Clearing, it could help them get a head start once they get their results.

2. Keep calm and don’t panic: We take calls from students who are panicking that they haven’t got the results they need and the first thing we tell them is to try to stay calm. This goes for parents too! If you can try not panic, it will really help your teenager. If at all possible encourage them to take a deep breath and keep a clear head as it will be much easier to think through their next steps if they are thinking clearly.

3. Remember to reassure: Try to remain positive, whatever the results. Your child may need reassurance from you that everything will work out and it will all be OK.

4. Time is on your side: There is no rush to make any quick decisions if you are thinking about a course in Clearing. Choosing a University can be difficult but when students go through Clearing and often haven’t even visited the University, it’s an even bigger decision to make. Clearing doesn’t open until the afternoon and so this gives your child time to reassess and have a good think about what they want to do before they start the process.

5. Make sure you’ve got fuel: If it is possible to visit the university offering a Clearing place before committing to it that can be really helpful so parents should be prepared to do some driving at fairly short notice or fund a few unexpected train journeys!

6. Learn about Adjustment: Getting better grades than expected is obviously a great situation to be in but it can pose a dilemma for your child about whether to stick with their original choice or to use Adjustment to choose a different course or University that was previously unavailable to them. It’s worth having an understanding of the Adjustment process and you can find more information here.

7. Open your mind about a gap year: Taking a gap year can be an effective way for your child to take time to think about all of their options. Used constructively, gap years can look good on a CV and can provide an opportunity to gain some work experience, making applicants more of a valuable contender for university or for the work place.

8. Consider earning whilst learning: If your teenager knows what they want to do career-wise then this could be a good option for them. It also gives them the opportunity to earn while they learn.

9. Remember re-takes: If your son or daughter thinks that they could have got a better grade in specific subjects or modules, then it might be possible to re-sit the exam and reapply for university next year. Your child will need to speak with their school about this ASAP. Be prepared that occasionally some universities look for higher grades from re-sit students so they may need to check specific Universities views on re-sit candidates.

10. Pick up the phone: If you want to find out more information, support or advice don’t forget that the Exam Results Helpline is here to help parents as well as the students themselves so give us a call on 0808 100 8000 or Twitter @ERHelp or Facebook.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Apprentice Case Study: Bradley Norton

Why did you decide to apply for an apprenticeship?
The main reason I applied is that I wanted to carry on my education and I thought that whilst learning in an academic environment offers good knowledge, there are certain things that can only be gained with experience.

Was it the right decision? 
Definitely. The knowledge that I have gained from experience has significantly helped my studies meaning that my grades are likely to be better than they would have been if I had done an academic education alone.

On top of the knowledge the fact that I am able to earn whilst doing these courses has meant that financially I have none of the troubles that some of my friends that have done the solely academic route have. The fact that I can attend university without paying the fees is a huge bonus as well.

What about the apprenticeship appealed to you specifically?
One of the biggest aspects that appealed to me was that I could go onto university without being burdened with debt. Whist I wanted to go to university I doubt I would have if I had to pay the fees myself. Another fact that appealed to me was the ability to earn and learn, this meant that outside of work I could have a life which I would not likely be able to enjoy if I went to university alone.

How long is your apprenticeship?
The apprenticeship is 5 years long in total, 2 years for a HNC and 3 years for the degree.

Have you earned any qualifications from your apprenticeship? If so, how can they help you?
So far I have earned a HNC from my apprenticeship. This should help me progress further in my career and achieve a higher level job role, the ongoing degree will also help me achieve this.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to your classmates?
That depends on the person. I would certainly recommend it to anybody who is willing to put in the level of work required to achieve the qualifications, however if they are not prepared to do this then it is likely that an apprenticeship is not for them.

What are your plans and ambitions after completing your apprenticeship?
Once I have completed my apprenticeship I hope to continue my progression through my career at the company. Hopefully paying back their investment in my future.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Exam Results Helpline: Aneesa Taliv

Name: Aneesa Taliv
Age: 20

A Level results day last year
When Aneesa got her exam results last year she was really happy to have passed her courses in Business, Health & Social Care and Sociology. Aneesa had always planned to take a gap year as she was unsure of what she wanted to do next.

“The application process for uni began when I was in the middle of preparing for my exams and so I just didn’t feel like I had the time to write a personal statement and apply. I decided to take a gap year to weigh up my options and have a think about what I wanted to do.”

Next steps
Aneesa was delighted with her results and so suddenly the option of going to university seemed to be more of an option.

“I felt confused when I got my results. I was really happy with my grades but all of my friends were celebrating that they had got into university and I felt disappointed that I hadn’t applied. I also started to get worried that if I did take a year out I might not get back into education. Then one of my friends suggested to call the Exam Results Helpline to see what my options were.”

How the Exam Results Helpline supported Annesa
The adviser on the phone suggested that Annesa could have a look into Clearing to see what courses and which universities were available to her.

“The adviser was really encouraging and made me realise that I still had a chance of going to uni despite not applying sooner. They talked me through the Clearing process and so I started to see what was on offer to me.”

Next steps
Annesa found a course that she was interested in at her local university and has now finished her first year of her Childhood and Family studies with Education studies degree at Wolverhampton University.

Aneesa’s advice to students getting their results this year:
“You’ve still got a chance to go to university even if you haven’t applied yet. I thought I had missed my chance because I hadn’t applied but actually I managed to get onto a course without having to go through the whole application process, which for me was an easier route in.
Also, make sure that you call the Exam Results Helpline – these lines are set up for you so don’t be afraid to call them. They really helped me.”

Thursday, 30 June 2016

A Level Results Day: Preparing for the unexpected

Do you have a plan B? What do you know about UCAS Clearing? Do you already know the process of Adjustment? Doing some research now could give you a headstart when the results are out says Nick Hynnes, careers adviser at Exam Results Helpline.

You've finished your A levels, school's out, and all you can do now is countdown to results day on 18th August, right?  Wrong!

Every year on the Exam Results Helpline we deal with hundreds of students' queries.  Each student's circumstances are of course unique, and many of the questions fall under three main headings:

  • my exam results aren't as good as I wanted
  • my exam results are better than I had expected
  • I got the grades, I have a place waiting for me, but I'm no longer sure that I want to take it up

Imagine yourself in each of these situations: do you have a plan B for in case you don't achieve the grades required first time around?  What do you know about UCAS Clearing?  Have you researched gap years, and retakes, and other further and higher education courses such as foundation degrees and BTEC qualifications?

Some decisions need making in the hours after your results are out – so if you do some research now it could give you a decisive headstart on others in your situation.

What about if you do better than everyone expected?  Happy dilemma - but it is still a dilemma! Of course you can continue with your previous plans - you have exceeded the requirements of your offers - so would you choose to do this?  Or might you now be interested in UCAS Extra or Adjustment?  Or even a previously-unconsidered gap year, to give yourself more time to reflect on your options?

If you do better than expected it’s often a natural reaction to wonder if you should change your choice of university to one that was previously unavailable to you, in which case you would need to use Adjustment. In this situation I often advise people to reflect on the amount of time taken to decide on their university and the reasons they have chosen it. It may not be wise suddenly to go somewhere else simply based on the higher grades that are required. If you find yourself in this position, it is something I would strongly recommend for you to talk to us about.

It’s also good to remember that if used constructively a gap year can be a great way of getting some much needed work experience to ‘test out’ your chosen career which is great to have on your CV or to simply research universities and make sure your 100% sure on your university choice.  If a university rejects you, they may reconsider if you take a year out to get some relevant experience and reapply the following year.

 In all of these situations, time spent researching and discussing your thoughts, plans and fears with your family, your teachers and your careers adviser is likely to be time well spent.

The Exam Results Helpline will be open at 08:00 on Thursday 18 August to back-up your planning with expert, impartial advice on Clearing, Adjustment, apprenticeships, retakes, gap years, alternatives to higher education and any other options you'd like to know more about.

Give us a call on 0808 100 8000 – and whatever you decide to do, good luck.