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It’s Not All About Your Results: Alternative Paths to a Successful Career

19 August 2022   |   by Explore Careers
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Getting your final exam results can definitely feel like a scary experience! We know it seems like your entire future is riding on those little letters and numbers printed on a piece of paper.

What can be even scarier is not getting the results you hoped for.

It might feel like the end of the world, but we’re here to drop some truth bombs and let you know the one thing we know for sure; everything will be okay.

There are many ways to pursue the career you want, and your exam results are only a tiny part of that.

Didn’t get the Grades? Do This Next

Take a break.

We’re serious. After weeks of pressure and stress, the disappointment of not getting the grades you hoped for can take its toll. Especially when your peers are all celebrating their success, you might feel like the only person in the world who didn’t get it right

Please, give yourself a break. It’s essential to take some time to rest and process the experience. Feeling sad and disappointed is fine, but don’t let these emotions rule your life. Spend time doing the things you enjoy and that makes you happy.

Talk it through with a trusted friend or adult, get it out of your system, and then be ready to refocus on going after what you want in life.

3 Alternative Pathways to Explore

If you didn’t get the grades you were hoping for, you might lose out on your college or university place. If clearing isn’t an option, there are many other exciting ways to take your next steps after school.

Here are three worth looking at:

  1. Consider an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships sometimes get a bit of a bad rap, but in 2019/20, 719,000 people participated in an apprenticeship in England, with 322,500 apprenticeship starts and 146,900 apprenticeship achievements.

Starting with intermediate apprenticeships and going up to degree apprenticeships, there’s no reason not to get the best of both worlds, combining on-the-job practical experience with valuable qualifications. All while earning an income!

Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries that continues to grow. Entry requirements depend on the level you apply for and the role. No matter your circumstances – or results – there’s bound to be an opportunity to help you get started with where you want to go in life.

  1. Take a look at T-Levels.

T-Levels are slightly similar to apprenticeships but also a bit different. And they could be a great alternative if your results aren’t what you hoped.

T-Levels offer 16-19 year-olds a mix of classroom learning and work experience, with a professional placement that aligns with the qualification studied – which could include accounting and finance, catering and hospitality, or manufacturing.

They’ve been developed with employers’ input to create a new way for young people to get into their desired careers and ensure they’re prepared to do that. They’re also a viable qualification if you do want to get into university down the line. A Distinction* in a T-Level is Equivalent to 3 A* A-Levels and will be recognised by universities.

  1. Get a head start with work experience.

Even some of the most successful individuals out there didn’t do so well when it came to their exams, including Bill Gates:

“I failed some subject exams, and my friend passed them all. Now he’s an engineer with Microsoft. And I’m the owner of Microsoft.”

Grades really aren’t everything you’ll need to be a success. Hard work, the right experience, a persistent mindset, and a strong support network are all incredibly valuable. It’s never too soon to start seeing where work experience could take you. Some of the most entry-level roles can lead to the greatest career paths.

Why not check out some fantastic opportunities from our supportive employer partners?

This is Just the Beginning

When you’ve just spent the last five years of your life working towards this moment, it’s natural to feel exhausted – whether you get the results you hoped for or not!

You might even feel a bit relieved if you didn’t get the grades needed – it’s essential to pay attention to these feelings as it can be an excellent curiosity piece to explore new avenues and pathways you might not have even thought about.

We promise, no matter what, that this is just the beginning of exciting things ahead. Focus on the opportunities ahead, and we know you’ll do great.


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