What are your options after college or sixth form? Three students chose three very different paths after completing their A-Levels.
The surprise undergraduate
Amber Clabburn, 19, from Hertfordshire, is at Bournemouth University. She didn't think she was ready for higher education – until Clearing changed her mind. A-levels: sociology (A), photography (B), psychology, (C).
"Originally, I applied for a foundation course in science, but I was late and there weren't any places left. I wanted to be a speech therapist, but after visiting unis and gaining work experience, I was increasingly unsure. I decided to take a gap year to consider my options.
Then I did some research, and marketing came up. That seems like a complete change, but it's all about communication.
After I got my A-level results, my mum showed me the Clearings listings. I didn't take much notice. My personal statement wasn't geared towards marketing, so I didn't expect any universities would accept me. Then I saw that Bournemouth had places. At most universities, marketing degrees are quite business based, but Bournemouth's is in the media school, so it's more creative.
People think Clearing is complicated, but that depends what you want and how you end up there. I didn't find it stressful. By the time I spoke to the admissions tutor, it was clear to us both that this was the right course for me."
Amika Ezer-Christie, 19, from London, travelled to Ghana with Real Gap.
A-levels: English literature (B), PE (B) and biology (which she re-took).
"I found A-levels stressful, so a gap project was a great break. I think it's important to interact with different people too. It was an adventure and I learnt a lot.
I waited until after I got my A-level results before I planned my trip, which was a good idea, because I ended up retaking biology. I re-sat in January, and went to Ghana in February, teaching three- to seven-year-olds in classes of up to 50. It was the most amazing time!
I'm hoping to study anthropology at university. That's about people and culture, so having done a useful project in a different part of the world should make me a stronger applicant. The experience has also made me even more sure of what I want to do.
You have to research your gap project because there are so many options. I read reviews and looked at websites. Then I did a gap safety course with Real Gap. They give tips on what to expect and being safe when travelling alone. It was my mum's suggestion – and it was really helpful."
Sadie Hawkins, 18, from Newbury, is on an apprenticeship scheme with the multinational business and consulting corporation IBM. A-levels: finance (A), IT (B), psychology (C).
"My school was part of the IBM outreach scheme. I gained work experience while I was doing my A-Levels, which was an insight into what IBM does and the opportunities they offer.
I secured a conditional offer before I sat my A-levels, but there are two intakes every year so you can apply after you've picked up your results. Grades are important, but the skills you show and the potential you demonstrate at interview really influence whether they are interested in you.
For me, higher education just sounded like being lectured at. My apprenticeship is a chance to develop my skills and grow on the job, while also taking courses. At the moment, I'm a resource and process co-ordinator, working for one of IBM's clients. It's a real-life responsibility.
The starting salary is £15,000 with my training and education funded by IBM. Having a global leader on my CV is a fantastic opportunity – and at the end of my apprenticeship, I'll be a full-time employee. It's not just a two-year programme, this is ongoing."