But not everyone will get their grades – and it doesn’t mean you won’t get a degree if you still want to.
Last year, a record number of students – nearly 67,000 - found university places through clearing – a system which helps universities match students who don’t have a place to courses which still have space.
A-level results are just a few days a way now and Dr Lisette Johnston, ex-BBC world news editor has given us her top tips for those who didn’t get the grades they were expecting.
“For students who didn’t get the grades they needed to go to their chosen university, it’s important to remember that clearing is not a ‘bottom of barrel’ scraping situation, but the consequence of a system that is focused on everyone ‘bidding’ for those who achieve the highest grades - not the most talented, not the most enthusiastic and not the most passionate… just the highest grades.”
1. Prepare - just in case.
You haven’t got your results yet, so spend a few hours researching a plan B. Consider your chosen course, are there similar courses that don’t have such high entry requirements? For example if you’ve applied to do maths why not look at courses with maths, such as economics and mathematics, or financial mathematics. If you’ve applied to do media studies look at content, media and film production. If you are completely ‘sold’ on a particular university, look at their clearing pages now and register with them to save time if you need to make the clearing call on the day.
2. Don’t panic.
I know it’s difficult when you’re faced with a computer screen or a bit of paper that’s basically telling that you that your long held plans have changed. This is just a blip. Take a few deep breaths, have a drink of water and collect your thoughts - there is always a way forward.
3. Get advice
Speak with your friends and parents and remember there are experienced staff at you your sixth Form or college who can help you, they will want to do their best for you and most universities have a great clearing process - there’s a lot of help out there.
4. Be bold
Get on the phone, ask questions. This can take a bit of courage, but you want to make sure that you’re not just grabbing the first opportunity that comes along, make sure its the right option for you. Before you call a university have a list of questions at hand. If it’s a university you haven’t visited before you might want to ask about facilities, accommodation, student support, careers support etc. Remember this is a two way process, you should be interested in what they can offer you beyond the degree.
5. Consider the options
If you’re really not sure about going to university this year, you could defer a year and go in 2019 instead. You could take the year to resit exams, get a job and earn some money, or look elsewhere completely; there are lots of alternatives, such as apprenticeships that can also be a route to a degree
Dr Lisette Johnston is head of school at screenspace, a content, film and media degree delivered at Ealing Studios in partnership with MetFilm School at the University of West London.