My results were not what I expected, what now?
Jane McGuire

My results were not what I expected, what now?

What to do instead of uni

First published date August 15 2014 Amended date September 03 2014

There are no ifs or buts about it, results day is terrifying. The only comfort lies in the fact that you are not alone, as sixth formers across the country hold their breath and tear open the exam envelope. Marking an end of fourteen years of study and three years of exams, A Level results can seem like the most important day of your life. So what happens when the results inside are not what you expected and UCAS Track tells you that you have not been accepted onto your dream course? It may feel like the end of the world but believe us when we say it will be ok. So take a deep breath and have a look at our advice on what to do instead of uni.



First things first, even if you have not met the entry requirements, your first choice may still accept you if you are only a few marks off. Alternatively, the university might offer you an alternate course so it is worth getting in touch. If not, clearing is your next option; although you may not be going to study where you had planned, there are plenty of great courses still out there at top universities. All you need is your clearing number from UCAS Track, a cool head and a day by the phone with your laptop fully charged. Clearing can be stressful so try and stay calm! When you do get through to universities mate notes and write down contact details in case you need them later. For some more advice, take a look at what our friends at WhatUni have been up to. Their ultimate clearing guide is full of popular courses and handy advice, making the quick decisions less traumatic.


Retaking exams

Going back to school in September can seem a little depressing, but if you have your heart set on a certain course or university, it could be worth waiting for. Chances are, returning to the same school and only studying a couple of subjects is not something you want to run back to. Why not think about retaking your subjects or exams at a different college nearby? You can find suitable courses on Hotcourses and use the ‘request info’ button next to the details to get in touch with the college to find out more.



According to the NCFE (Northern Council for Further Education), the average graduate will now leave university with £53,000 worth of debt, following the rise in tuition fees a few years ago and for some people this is really off-putting. Getting a degree is not the only route into employability success, and an apprenticeship could be an option you may not have considered. The government is putting more money into apprenticeships than ever before and more and more students are choosing these career focused courses over university.

With the option to earn while you learn, you will not rack up as much debt and will generally lead to a job when you have finished. The average apprentice will earn around £170 per week, although this can go up to around £210 per week in certain industries. What’s more, if you are between 19-25 you may receive a contribution towards your training that can be up to 50% of the cost. Take a look at our apprenticeships homepage for some more answers to frequently asked questions, a list of the top ten apprenticeships in the UK and the available options out there for you.



Although the prospect of working for free for a few months can seem terrifying, an unpaid internship really isn’t as bad as it sounds. Over 20% of graduates will be unemployed in the first six months after completing their degree, many finding they lack the magic ‘experience’ employers look for.  Unpaid internships are often common in the creative industries and are a great way of gaining confidence, networking and building a relationship with a company. Whether you decide to do an internship alongside your re-sits, or whilst you work out what to do next, it could be the best decision you ever make. So walk in and impress, if you prove you can work hard for free, the company may consider you over a graduate if a job comes up whilst you are there.


Gap year

If another year of revision and stress is too much to handle, a gap year could be a blessing in disguise. In fact, with no mortgage, graduate job hunt or children to worry about this could be a great time to dig out your flip flops and plan the adventure of a lifetime. Remember it’s not all about sandy beaches and that a gap year could be a great addition to your CV depending on what you get up to. Voluntary work, learning a language or teaching English abroad are all great options to consider. Not to mention instead of getting hung up on drinking games and sports initiations, you will be seeing the world and learning about different cultures – much more impressive in the interview room.


So take a deep breath, stop panicking and remember that there are plenty of options out there for you – get planning and good luck!  

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.