Results day can be a nerve-wracking experience for many young people. Traditionally, they will queue up at school and face an anxious wait to find out how they've done in their exams before they can think about the next stage in their education.
With the A-level results in and university plans either scrapped or confirmed, the gap year exodus is soon to begin. Many young people will be seeking out character building volunteering projects in third world countries, determined to 'give something back' before years of hard study (and hard partying) take centre stage. But how informed a choice can anyone make about the volunteering trips on offer?
Around 600,000 young people in the UK are on school holidays right now. That means unlimited sunbathing, chilling with mates and dreaming about exciting futures, right? Wrong. In fact, thousands of young people feel hopeless about life after school.
Students around the country have this week received life changing news. A-Level results have become one of the most important moments in a teenager's life, but does the burden piled on by these exams live up to the hype? And do the effects of that pressure on the individual last way after the results have been forgotten?
When I left school, I was doing well academically with B's and C's in all my GCSEs and so I followed everyone else and went to study full time in college. However, after a few months into my BTEC and A-levels I decided full time studying wasn't for me, as I am such a hands on learner I found it difficult to learn in a classroom environment.
So to all the all new students fleeing the nest for the next few years, I would pass on this advice: start to give your future some serious thought. Although you will probably think that an argument over who gets the biggest cupboard in your new university digs is important - keep focused on the bigger stuff.
No matter how much you think you're prepared for these opportunities, there are always things that surprise you. As school leavers around the country prepare to collect their A-Level and GCSE results this month, I thought I'd share my advice and what I wish I knew before starting my apprenticeship.
For too long, a stigma clouded apprenticeships. But now that stigma has gone. A degree is no longer the only route that the ambitious and capable can take on their way to fulfilling their potential. Apprenticeships are a wholly viable option. A-Level leavers must make the choice that is right for them as individuals.
Good luck to students who receive their A Level results today. If you have achieved your aims, good on you. If not, please do not despair. The longer you live, the less important they will be. Take it from me, the exam results you achieve at school are no criteria for a successful career.
Ask questions, see if you can speak to past or present apprentices. Gather knowledge. It is not all about the money either. Remembering that there is more to a job than salary and benefits will help you, the candidate, make the right choice. A key question to ask any potential employer is about the opportunities at the end of the training period.