Exams are sort of a necessary evil. Important, yet at times a lot of focus is put on exam results when it's not required. And getting your results can be a nerve-wracking experience. It often feels like your entire future is riding on those little letters and numbers printed on a piece of paper, nestled tidily inside an envelope. What can be even scarier is not getting the results you hoped for - but it happens.
We get it. Because we’ve been there. And from our experience, we know that it isn't the end of the world - even if the people around you may sometimes behave that way.
We're not saying exam results aren't relevant. Or that studying isn't a great way to learn something new. What we are pretty confident of is that your exam results only form one part of the equation. It's just one indicator of what you're truly capable of. And with the number of opportunities out there, you have plenty of alternatives to pursue the career you want.
So whether you've recently received your exam results, or you're gearing up to give an exam next year, here are three alternative career paths that you should look at:
Consider an Apprenticeship
Apprenticeships offer an exciting career pathway for many young people today. For starters, it's a perfect alternative for someone who enjoys learning through practice rather than through theory alone. Yes, they do sometimes get a bit of a bad rap because of stereotypes. But with 814,800 people participating in an apprenticeship in England in 2017/18, more young people are catching on that these are highly viable options to the career they want.
Starting from entry-level (intermediate apprenticeships) and going all the way up to degree apprenticeships, we think there’s no reason not to get the best of both worlds, combining on-the-job practical experience with valuable qualifications while often getting paid a salary too. Apprenticeships are also becoming available in an ever-increasing number of industries, and entry requirements depend on the level you apply for, and the role.
This means no matter your circumstances - or exam results - there’s bound to be an apprenticeship opportunity to help you get started with where you want to be in life.
A-Levels Aren’t for Everyone: Take a Look at T-Levels
Who doesn't love options? And when you're evaluating your future career path, it makes perfect sense to have more options to consider.
If you're looking at A-Levels as the only post-16 option, we're here with some great news. Starting September 2020, new T-Level courses could be a great alternative after GCSE alongside apprenticeships as well the standard A levels.
T-Levels offer 16-19-year-olds a mix of classroom learning and work experience, with a professional placement that aligns with the qualification studied. These could include accounting and finance, design, management, catering and hospitality, or manufacturing. They’ve been developed with input from employers to create a new way for young people to get into their desired careers, and to ensure they're prepared for how to do that.
There's also a bonus: a Distinction* in a T-Level is Equivalent to 3 A* A-Levels - worth 168 UCAS points and will be recognised by universities. So if you're keen on going to Uni, you can still do that after doing your T-Levels.
Don’t Underestimate Where Work Experience Can Take You
Here's the thing - even some of the most successful STEM leaders didn’t do so well when it came to their exams:
“I failed in some of my subject exams, and my friend passed them all.
Now he’s an engineer with Microsoft. And I’m the owner of Microsoft.”
There's no denying it - getting top grades is a fantastic achievement. But good grades are not the only factor that decides career success. Hard work, the right work experience, a persistent mindset, and a strong network of support are all incredibly valuable. In fact, in today's uber-competitive environment where great grades have almost become the norm, your relevant work experience is what could truly set you apart. And remember, some of the most entry-level roles can lead to the most sought-after career paths.
So, if you're ready to explore different career paths and discover your next steps, become a Springpod member. It's easy (and free!) to join.