It's time to stand up and plan your next move

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The Independent Online

Not getting the A-level results you expected or wanted doesn't automatically mean that the four horsemen of the apocalypse are going to come galloping in on their trusty steeds. You're bound to be disappointed but the important thing is not to panic and rush headlong into a decision that you might regret later. Take your time to think about what it is that you want to do, what your aims and goals are. And don't sit in contemplative silence, or at least not for too long anyway! Talking to someone - be it your parents, teachers, a careers adviser or friends - will help you get perspective on your situation and no doubt turn up some valuable information or advice.

Talking of which: the following is by no means an exhaustive list, but will hopefully give you some idea of the options available if your A-levels don't hit the mark.

Arrange your resits

Definitely one to discuss with your teacher or careers adviser, because you need to think carefully about why you didn't get the mark you wanted in a particular exam. Was it a case that you were ill, or didn't revise as much as you could have, and so think you could do better? Or was your grade a fair reflection of what you can achieve in that particular subject, meaning a resit is unlikely to help?

Also bear in mind that resitting isn't an easy option; you will have to put in just as much work as the first time around, if not more. If you decide it is something you want to do then your next decision is where. Some people prefer to stay at the school or college they originally studied at because the surroundings are familiar and they feel more comfortable; others might prefer a change of scene.

Ask the university or college that you are considering attending what their stand is on resits too. There are some that don't even consider students who have taken them, especially if you are trying to get onto a very popular course, so check first.

Go through Clearing

In a nutshell it's a chance to find a similar course to what you want with lower entry requirements. See education.independent.co.uk/clearing.

Alternative qualifications

HNDs and apprenticeships are two other alternatives to studying for a degree at univeristy or college that are covered in the pages of this magazine. A-level grades are less important in these cases; a willingness to learn, enthusiasm for the career you choose and an obvious intelligence will all stand you in good stead.

Take a gap year

Some time away from education (and even the country!) could be just the thing to clear your head and help you decide what to do. There are so many different places you can go and things you can do; a few of them are covered in our Time Out section. You never know: you might find a job in deepest Siberia and never come back!

Get a job

It doesn't have to be a permanent career move; just something temporary to bring some cash in while you think about your next move. Or it could be a job in the field you are interested in that provides the first step on that proverbial career ladder. A part-time job could also give you time to do work experience somewhere in the days when you're not working. Option a-plenty!

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