A is for August, A-levels and anxiety. As a parent, you know that one fateful envelope, text or email contains exam results that will shape your child's future.
Whatever the result, don't panic! There are plenty of options available to them. As the world's leader in flexible education, the Open University has some very attractive ways it can help. With its supported open learning system, students can work or even travel while they study for a degree. It also means they can live at home, or wherever else they choose, while completing their course.
As a top-rated academic institution, the Open University's degrees are respected by employers. In fact, 75 per cent of the top 100 FTSE companies have sponsored their staff on these courses. For many students, earning while learning also means gaining a degree without running up a large student debt. Depending on the student's income, the Open University also has a range of financial-support options that could mean they study free – regardless of what their parents earn.
Since the outset, the Open University has not asked for any formal qualifications to enter undergraduate-level study. It is not what you have achieved before that counts, it is your motivation to succeed now that matters. The help we can provide allows our students to achieve their goals.
The Open University is famous for its 40-year partnership with the BBC, but the learning media open to our students are even richer – from iTunes University downloads to inventive virtual worlds. Our curriculum enables practical subjects, such as science or engineering, to be taught in an exciting, modern and engaging way.
A decade ago, most 18-year-olds considered only a conventional university. Today, the number of our students under 21 is growing rapidly. One in five of all Open University students is under 25. Young students can begin their study while still at school through the Young Applicants in Schools scheme and may stay with us until graduation. Your son or daughter could graduate at the same time as their sixth-form friends, but perhaps with a few years of employment under their belt, too, and great career prospects.
So what does it take? If you have the desire to study and can manage your time (we can help you there, too), then the Open University could be the smart choice for you. You can build up work experience while studying and your employer may support you and use the results of your study directly at work.
Unlike with traditional institutions, Open University students do not have to commit to a named degree when they first enrol. They can study modules from a variety of disciplines to contribute to an open degree, giving greater study flexibility. In addition, students can study a number of modules simultaneously, if time allows, or they can take breaks if they need to, and pick up study again when it is more convenient to do so.
The Open University is a vibrant, friendly community that reaches out to welcome everyone within it. Our students receive excellent support and there are opportunities to meet others at tutorials and residential schools. This explains why the Open University is scored at the top of the league table for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey each year.
Our graduates are also among the most employable in the UK, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters. They are twice as likely to be in work six months after graduation than students who studied full time are.
Visit openuniversity.co.uk/18to2 and enter an inspiring world of learning that sets the Open University apart
Liz Manning is Head of Services for Younger Students with The Open University
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies