A-Level results day can be a stressful day - either because success has meant that the dream of a university place has now become real or because the route you thought you were about to follow now looks doubtful. Try not to be anxious. You can bring it in prayer to the Lord and you have many options, whatever your results. 

There are lots of great materials online; and for ease and simplicity I have pointed you to these resources rather than making this an extremely long blog article. Two sites you may want to visit whatever because they have some really useful articles and direct access to what you need are: university.which.co.uk and ucas.com.

Don’t forget there are many young people who may feel they have let others down or not achieved what God has planned for them. This isn’t true of course. So be as supportive as you can, whether it’s a child or a friend. He has a plan for their life and the best thing is to get working on that as soon as possible. This will have more effect than all the ‘never minds’ in the world. 

I’ve listed some practical things for you to explore depending on your situation: 

I have better results than I expected & I am now thinking university is an option 

It costs you nothing to explore things. The system is geared up to meet your needs through something called Clearing. It's simply a way of matching people to potential university places late in the day. There's often still a wide choice of universities (though often the most popular ones do not participate) and courses on offer. So choose one you are both excited by and which you think will work well for you (how is the course structured, is the campus right for the kind of person you are, practicalities etc?). The full list of courses is published on the UCAS website and in The Telegraph newspaper (and there's also an app too from The Telegraph).

You can find out more about the clearing process here and here. Don't wait though - the more popular courses can fill up as fast as the Monday after results day. You will need to follow up on the phone with any relevant universities and be prepared for a mini online interview - get ready to 'sell' yourself. But you may find yourself with an offer in the bag after just 30 minutes! 

I have better results than expected

You can check the status of your 'Firm' offer at UCAS Track. It sometimes takes a little while for the site to be updated. If you can see no status change by Monday then call your university. If your results are well beyond expectation you may wish to consider 'Adjustment'. It means you are at liberty to explore what options are now open to you with those higher grades/points without endangering your existing firm offer. You need to move fast for this. Explore more here

I didn't get the results I wanted

Don't panic and don't feel for a moment that you won't be going to uni. There are lots of courses and places out there, if you still want them. First double check with your 'Firm' offer university whether they might yet accept you. You may be surprised! If your UCAS Track status already shows as not accepted, then there's little room for manoeuvre on that particular course, I'm afraid. They may offer you a different course though. Of course, your 'Insurance' offer may also be an option and you may also be able to bargain with them if possible.

If you haven't any offers you will be entered into the Clearing process automatically, but if you don't apply for anything nothing will happen. Do get on the case straight away - many courses are filled by the Monday after results day. However, this year, you may find yourself contacted directly by some universities, keen to enrol you onto a course. Don't take it unless it's right for you, it works practically with your support package and you think the course fits your needs. 

Which is the right university for me if I can't get my first or second choice?

Do your research - look at different aspects, including course content, how it is structured, balance of guided time to personal study, access to academic staff, access to employment record, campus quality, other uni-based activities, pastoral support, maybe even cost! You can see about how others have rated universities online at the official site: Unistats. If you decide not to go, there many options for you - not least in apprenticeships - or you may decide to defer your options and take some temporary work or a gap year and re-apply for a course to start next year (90% of students, who did so, gained a place (source: UCAS)). A useful resource if you really don't want to go to uni is notgoingtouni.co.uk - there is more than one way to a successful career! 

FRANK HUTTON is a professional career coach at huttonand.co.