#ALevelResults2019 - What parents can do to help their children following their results

A-level results day is a tense time for parents of children hoping to head off to university in September.

It’s best to take note of the dos and don’ts of results day; from not over celebrating to being supportive and learning about clearing and alternative options.

Sharon Walpole, Director at www.careermap.co.uk has compiled a list of the best things you can do as a parent to help your child on their results day.

Talk to them

It’s important to reiterate and remind your child that they have put a great deal into their exams or coursework and how proud you are of them, no matter what the result. Don’t shrug off the worries; put things into perspective and discuss the alternative pathways available to them. Constantly remind your child that you’re there for them if they do want to talk through anything during this time.  

Time to celebrate

If all those hours sat at a desk paid off and your child has met the grades they needed, ensure you give them a big pat on the back and let them know how proud you are. Perhaps wait until you get home to pop open the champagne, however, as your child’s classmates might not be quite so fortunate.

Be prepared for plan B

Whilst for many results day calls for celebrations, if your child has not meant the entry requirements for their first choice don’t panic. Hopefully the grades for the ‘insurance’ choice have been met but if not, come prepared with a list of options.

There may be a temptation to call the universities and beg for a place, however with other students meeting the required grades, this is often a waste of time. Instead, speak to advisors at the school and talk to your child about whether they want to do resits, change subjects or even look to enter Clearing.  


Consider All Available Avenues Following A Level Results Day

While university is likely to have been the most commonly spoken about in the school environment, it isn’t the only option available, it is important to consider all the available routes that students can take, ensuring they’re well informed and make the best decision for them.

Speak to your child about apprenticeships and school leaver programs as alternative pathways that your they may not have considered; they could even be a better fit than university. Remember, university may not be right for everyone but do make sure your child is aware that they can take a gap year to think over their options or that they can re-sit their exams and try again next year. The most important thing is to reassure your son or daughter that they haven’t failed.


With such a wide range of degrees available, you may decide that university is the path you want to take. Research is key here; look up locations, course modules and student fees to decide on which course is the best fit for you. You’ll also need to take into account entry requirements that need to be met.

If you didn’t get the grades that you wanted, you can opt to go through UCAS Clearing. Likewise, if you did much better than expected you can choose to switch university or course and will need to go through UCAS Adjustment.

Try looking into sandwich degrees or summer work placements to extend your study time and put yourself in the best position possible to secure a successful job once you graduate. A year in industry can provide you with numerous opportunities for networking, providing you with the chance to build strong relationships with future employers and catapult you towards a successful career.

UCAS Clearing

So your child hasn’t got the grades they needed, or perhaps they’re applying straight through Clearing, what next? Places at a variety of different universities are made available when other students do not meet their entry conditions.

Take a note of the appropriate courses and the universities your child would like to attend, as well as the numbers to ring. They will then need to contact these universities directly themselves to ask whether they can apply.

Students can be entered into the Clearing system if they have been rejected from their first and second choice universities or because they made a late application. The UCAS Track system will provide your child with a clearing number and they can use this to try and secure a place somewhere. 

If results day doesn’t go as planned, remind yourself that you are worth far more than your grades. Take this time to explore all the Clearing options available to you via the UCAS Track system; you might even find a course more suited to you that you didn’t spot or consider before.

If you previously decided that university isn’t for you but have since had a change of heart, there’s still time to apply through Clearing. The earlier you get onto the website on A Level results day, the better – the website will see a lot of traffic throughout the day. If the website has crashed, be persistent, don’t just give up.

UCAS Adjustment

If your child has achieved above and beyond what was specified in their offer, there’s a UCAS Adjustment system where students can apply for courses they hadn’t previously considered with their predicted grades.

A less well-known process as Clearing, students can register for the Adjustment system using UCAS Track and use the UCAS search tool to look for course. 

If you find that your grades are higher than expected upon collecting your results, you might also reconsider what university you want to attend and what course you want to do. This option allows you to trade in your first choice for something even better – but please note you will also need to contact the admissions office at the university you’re interested in with your personal ID in order to ensure you’ve met the higher criteria.

Don’t get too excited, however, as the majority of competitive courses will be filled up. If your child is happy with what they have applied for and where they’re heading to, don’t push them to look elsewhere and instead just take this time to relax and celebrate.


You can still do an apprenticeship even after you’ve done you’re A Levels; what’s more, you can qualify for a higher apprenticeship if you’ve achieved a level 3 NVQ qualification or A Levels too! This is a great choice if you don’t fancy being thrown straight into work and you want to steer clear of university. Higher apprenticeships offer you invaluable training and experience opportunities as well as the chance to earn as much as £170 a week, without the crippling prospect of student debt.

The recent rise in popularity of apprenticeships can be partly attributed to the fact that, as part of a government-backed scheme, you can even do apprenticeships that land you with a full degree qualification upon completion. This is an ideal next step for those who like the idea of further education but don’t think that sitting in a lecture hall is for them, providing the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge into practice.

With no cost to you, degree apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds as they are designed by businesses working alongside universities and colleges. You can gain a Bachelor’s Degree or even Master’s Degree as a result, and with a range of subjects from construction to finance, there’s something for everyone.

School Leaver Programmes

Once you’ve finished you’re A Levels, all kinds of School Leaver Programmes are available, offering the opportunity to work for an employer in your chosen sector, building valuable life and working skills as you go. You’ll also be given the opportunity to work towards a professional vocational qualification, giving you a direct route into the world of work.

If you know what you want to do career-wise, this may be the head start that you need into the industry. Do as much research as you can into your chosen career path, highlighting opportunities for progression, and making sure that it’s the route you want to take.

College and Further Education

A common misconception is that a degree is the only option to choose for a successful job. Whilst that may be true for those wanting to be doctors or vets, you may find it surprising to hear that Further Education and college can give you the chance you need to succeed. Vocational qualifications, such as a BTEC or NVQ, are great options to consider. These focus more on the practical side of your chosen industry as opposed to academic study, giving you the chance to get out the classroom and put what you know into action.

You can do a BTEC alongside A Level studies or as an equivalent to university, allowing you to immerse yourself into the world of work whilst learning as you go. Alternatively you can do a BTEC HNC or HND at college which can be converted to a degree by doing a one year top up, without then going on to a do a three to four year degree afterwards. From accounting to art, you’ll be given a great platform to excel in your chosen career.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are competence-based qualifications that give you the chance to work your way up through the levels, taking part in practical work tasks and putting your skills to the test. Additionally, if you change your mind about university, you can use a level 3 NVQ as your ticket for acceptance onto your chosen course. Building life and work experience, be sure not to leave these out of the equation when trying to decide what to do post A Levels.

Foundation Degrees are handy for those who aren’t 100% sure if they want to do a full degree and can be completed within one to two years at college (although they can take longer if you decide to complete this part-time). If you make the decision to go for a full degree, you then have an additional year of education in order to gain your full Honours Degree.

Additionally, you have the option to do an Access to Higher Education Diploma in your chosen college, which is the best route to take if you don’t have the traditional qualifications to progress to university but still know what field you want to go into, such as law, art, social studies and nursing.

Gap year

If you need a break following many years of education, a gap year may be the best option for you. Go and travel the world and gain life experience that you’ll value for years to come. Try working abroad or volunteering for a worthwhile cause to add depth to your CV and perhaps inspire you for your future career path, without the pressure.

If you’re not ready to go straight into work or higher education, don’t push yourself immediately as universities and employers often hold those who took gap years in higher regard as they associate them with greater levels of responsibility and motivation. If you’re set on taking a gap year but have no idea where to start, there are numerous companies about that can give you tailored advice and recommendations. Try finding work through reputable agencies; this is especially important if you want to develop your work place and language skills.

Sharon Walpole, Director, Careermap

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