WHAT NEXT? Your options after A level results day.
If August 13th is a significant day in your house there’s also no doubt been much soul searching over the last few months about student options after A level results day. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented this year’s cohort of A level and BTEC students with many challenges but particularly the question of whether to go to university or defer. So what are your options?
Shall I go to University or defer?
It looks like anything between a quarter and a third of students are considering changing their course, their university or looking to defer for a year, concerned that socially distanced learning will not provide the usual university experience. There are no easy answers for making this decision as it will depend on many factors such as the students’ tolerance for online learning. A starting point is getting as much information as possible from universities you’ve already applied to about their arrangements. Some teaching is going online but many institutions have issued statements about ensuring most students will have some face to face teaching each week. University websites have specific information.
Once you have this information you might consider deferring until 2021 entry with the hope that campus life will be a bit more normal. But it’s worth considering that there are benefits to spending the next three years studying and being engaged in learning while there is so much uncertainty about employment and travel.
If you do go to university this September, there are important things you can do while at university to prepare you for the post university job market including volunteering and taking part in student society activity.
Don’t forget that if your results are very different from predicted you can look at finding another course through clearing via the UCAS site https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/results-confirmation-and-clearing/what-clearing
Apprenticeships, including degree apprenticeships
An apprenticeship involves being employed by a company and also gaining a qualification in the sector area. Training to complete the qualification is managed by a training provider (a university in the case of degree apprenticeships) and either via day release to attend a college, an assessor visiting you at your workplace or block training.
Higher and Degree apprenticeships are newer, having only been introduced in 2015. These are paid jobs which include gaining a qualification from Level 4 foundation degree and through up to Level 7 Masters. They are gaining in popularity with students as the benefit of earning while learning is being compared to taking on student loans. Being relatively new, Degree level apprenticeships are available in fewer occupations than the more established Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships. Degree apprenticeships are available in sectors including Finance, I.T., Business Administration, Education and Childcare, Engineering and Protective Service i.e. the Police. More are being developed all the time in areas such as Digital, TV and broadcasting and the UCAS website carries much degree apprenticeship information; www.ucas.com
Due to the pandemic and concerns about how to support apprenticeships in remote working situations, many companies are postponing their apprenticeship recruitment. However, some sectors are seeing some growth including health and social care and I.T. and digital sectors.
Volunteering and/or internship
If deferring your entry to University or your previous gap year plans are uncertain it could be a time to look at volunteering or internships as a post A level option. This will enable you to learn and add to your skills while structuring your time, all important for current wellbeing as well as future plans.
Formal volunteering involves giving your time for free to non-profit organisations and these organisations, used to supporting volunteers, offer support, supervision and a great opportunity to improve skills. Many organisations have increased their need for volunteers in the wake of Covid and this has included more online roles. Opportunities can include event management, fundraising or supporting others.
https://do-it.org it a national database of opportunities but local areas usually have their own volunteer centre.
Finding a job or traineeship
This is possibly the most challenging option as young adults have been most hit by job losses from the Covid lockdown. On 8th July the government announced new funding for six month work placements, kickstart scheme, for those aged 16 to 24. It’s too early to say how many will be available as this depends which employers can be persuaded to take someone on. It’s also likely there will be some caveats to who is able to access the scheme and already applicants need to be on Universal Credit and they will be targeted at young people who have other challenges to entering the job market.