There are several options open to you after receiving your SQA results (For those that are wondering what are SQAs, click here – and for those wondering how to prepare on SQA results day, click here). From the further study to apprenticeships and work placements, do not worry if you haven’t yet decided what is best for you, it is a big decision to make, and there is something available to suit everyone. Most importantly you should never feel pressured by anyone into taking a particular path or making a certain decision, parents, teachers or friends may hold strong ideas of their own, but these should never sway your decision, what is right for them might not be for you.
By the time SQA results have been released, you should aim to know what your next step will be and hopefully, you will be preparing to start work, undertake further study or to take some time out (To find out more about what to expect on SQA results day, click here). But if you haven’t do not panic and rush into a decision!
It depends at what stage you are currently at in your studies as to what your next step within education may be. If you have finished studying National 4 or National 5’s further study may be of interest to you. Studying Highers or Advanced Highers will enable you to apply for a university place, click and compare universities. Both Highers and Advanced Highers can be studied at your school or college.
Once you have received your results, you should know exactly what university you will be attending, in terms of receiving and understanding your UCAS entry points. UCAS will automatically be informed by the SQA of your results on SQA results day, and they will then accept or reject your university choices via UCAS. You do not need to inform your university choices directly of your results. To see if you have been accepted, you simply need to login to UCAS on the morning of your SQA results, if you have been successful all you need to do is accept the offer and prepare for heading to university.
Enjoy a few weeks of the summer holidays before getting ready to embrace your next step of education, plan a shopping trip with your parents to get all of the university essentials from saucepans to stationery and if you are moving away from home, it’s a good time to get used to the thought of moving, probably for the first time! It’s a big step but also a very exciting time! Your university will be in touch with you with any further instructions and to finalise living arrangements, start dates and anything you may need to do or buy in advance for your course.
It is important to bear in mind what you plan to do if your results are not what you expected. Results day can contain a wave of emotions and can often be very hectic, with so many people receiving results on one day it is easy to get caught up in the excitement. If you are unsuccessful in securing your first or second university choice, this does not mean you will be unable to attend university to study your desired course, but being prepared helps ensure you get to university. UCAS Clearing is designed for students who are in this exact situation. Make sure you know your options before results day, keep a check on the Clearing search and be prepared to phone universities that still have open spaces if results did not go to plan. You will have received a Clearing number through UCAS which you can give to university tutors so that they are able to access your UCAS application and see your grades (Talking of your UCAS Application, make sure you have a UCAS application to-do list, which can help you with everything that you need to apply for university). After talking to various universities via the Clearing route, you may be asked to apply via UCAS to a new university. Discovering if you have been successful in this route can take several days after results day, don’t panic and persist with the process, it could lead you to head off to university in a few short weeks and start you on the path to a career of your choice!
It may be that your results weren’t as expected and you were unlucky in getting into the university you had applied for. In this case, you can apply to retake exams to improve your SQA results. It is best to contact your school or college as soon as you can after SQA results day to discuss the option of retakes as it is up to the individual school as to whether they will facilitate you retaking the unit or parts of the course you have not passed.
If you or a school or college are concerned at the mark of a paper they can request a marking review, a clerical check will firstly be carried out to check that every part of the paper has been given a mark and that each mark is added together to give the correct score and that this score has been entered correctly into the SQA system. An SQA examiner will then review the marks awarded and ensures it matched up with the national guidelines. You cannot request a re-mark, this must come from your school or college. If you have a university place on hold, your school or college can request a priority marking review to meet the UCAS deadline of confirming places.
University definitely isn’t for everyone and your SQA results also set you up for taking the first step into a career, apprenticeship or even taking a gap year. Your results will stay with you for a lifetime, so don’t feel pressured into making any rushed decisions. Once you have your results, you can apply directly for a job, or you can even take some time out to travel before heading to university or into a career at a later date.
You can also apply for an apprenticeship. By applying for an apprenticeship, you will be earning a salary while gaining important skills and qualifications to aid a career in the chosen sector, although if you’re considering this route, you’ll need to be aware of the various apprenticeship entry requirements. Typically 30 hours a week, you will be working alongside skilled individuals to prepare you with the experience you need for full-time work. At the end of an apprenticeship, you may be able to apply to work for the same company, you could leave with a qualification such as an NVQ or BTEC setting you up for further job applications, or you could go back into education to study for a degree.
You can also study for an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) (If you find yourself asking what are NVQs, then click here) which offers you skills for a specific job, with a huge range of options from plumbing to health and social care. There are several levels that you will work your way through and be assessed on.
Alternatively, you can apply directly for a job. If you know what you wish to pursue as a career, it may be possible to start at entry level and work your way up. Make sure you do your research beforehand as it may be that you will only be able to get to a certain point before needing further education or training.
A gap year could also be next for you, although if you consider this, you need to be aware of all of the pros and cons of a gap year, before making your decision. If you are not 100% sure on the next step, maybe a year away from education will help you decide on what you want to achieve in life. You are also at the time of your life with little commitment, little finance pressures and without the stress of leaving a developed career. It is often seen as the perfect opportunity to see some of the world. If you have accepted a university place, you may even be able to defer your university entry for a year in order to travel knowing your university place is waiting for you.
A gap year may seem very daunting to gather enough money to even book a flight especially if you plan on travelling alone, however, don’t feel worried, there are many different gap year agencies with the aim to plan trips or itineraries should you need it. A lot of individuals choose to live at home and work from results day until January time to save enough money, before travelling for 6-9 months before the university year starts the following September. You can choose to jump on a plane directly from SQA results day and apply for a working holiday visa in a country of your choice; this will enable you to work while away to fund your living and travels. Or you could look into finding a volunteer role or a paying job before you leave, this way you have a more structured plan and job security which can suit some individuals more. Whatever route you choose, you are sure to have an adventure of a lifetime! You may even make the decision to retake your exams during a gap year, making it essential to plan your trip well!
If you still feel in the dark about what to do next, even after receiving your results, there are numerous people that can advise you on what is best for you. Although you may feel like you have left school, it is not too late to talk to an advisor or tutor at your school or college, and they will be more than happy to help. Although they will not be able to tell you what to do, it is always a good option to talk through your concerns, thoughts and worries, sometimes getting it out in the open allows you to see things from a different angle. They will also have the knowledge of educational or career routes that you may not have considered. Even your parents are a great source of knowledge, after all, they do know you the best and once upon a time they were in your exact situation! Nobody can tell you what to do, it ultimately has to be your choice, but the more people you talk to about your concerns, the easier a decision will come.
Always remember, whatever you chose to do after receiving your SQA results it is the right thing even if it isn’t what your friends are doing, you should never be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do. Your results stay with you forever, so you can always change your mind at a later date should you wish to re-enter further education or to start a career or apprenticeship. Most of all, enjoy the time off you have before starting your next step!
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