What are your options after you have finished your A Levels and BTEC’s?

Options after finishing A Levels and BTEC’s

It’s results day, you’ve just collected that all-important envelope from school and you tear open the edge.

You see a list of all the subjects you’ve invested hard work into and accompanying them are the grades you’ve been awarded. Some students will receive the grades they were expecting, some will be pleasantly surprised and some will be met with disappointment.

Whatever you find out when you open that envelope, there are lots of options for what to do next - whether that’s higher education or work, we’ll explore the opportunities you have once you’ve finished your A Levels and BTEC’s.

What to do after A Levels and BTEC’s

Once you’ve finished your further education, you are eligible to go onto higher education or start working. There a many different types of both which are all worth considering.


One of the most important decisions of your life, a degree can be a great way for you to explore a subject that you are passionate about, develop your knowledge in a particular area and prepare you for a successful career. Most commonly, degrees are undertaken on a full-time basis and last three years, however, there are an array of different ways you can get qualified at a degree level.

Full-time courses will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the subject and enable you to meet like-minded people with similar interests. Part-time courses are great for those who have busy lives who need to fit their studying around commitments such as childcare or work.

You can also find Degree Level courses taught at local college campuses rather than at official university sites, making them much more accessible to more students. Our campuses are located throughout the Greater Manchester region which has been primarily driven by what the community needs and the needs of the industries.

It is likely that you chose your degree course months ago, so what if you’ve changed your mind about that course? It’s not too late, universities offer their remaining course spaces through clearing. More than 60,000 students gained an undergraduate place at university through clearing last year, so you’re definitely not alone. At UCEN Manchester, we provide a wide range of courses including everything from Software Development and Make-up Artistry to Criminology, so there are some great options.

If you are interested in performing arts, you’ll be impressed by our specialist schools which provide highly practical experience and industry opportunities. Our courses at The Manchester Film School and The Arden School of Theatre provide students with a hands-on approach to performing and working behind-the-scenes of productions.

Alternatively, you could look into conservatoires which focus on teaching through practical experience, academic study and prepare students for life in the performance industry through productions.

Distance learning is a great option if you don’t want to move or travel in order to study the perfect course. Study materials are provided by the university (either by post or online) and completed by you at home. This gives you a similar level of flexibility as part-time learning as you can fit your education around other elements of your life, you decide when, where and at what pace you study. If you like the sound of blended learning but would like a little more time being taught traditionally in a classroom, you might want to explore blended learning options.

Full-time Work

Depending on which industry you’d like to go into, there are many work options for school leavers to go into. This might be preferable for those who want to earn a wage as soon as they leave school and start their career earlier in life. Many jobs don’t require higher education and instead will only require you to undertake some work-based training provided by the company.

There are many different ways to search for the right job and using a few avenues only increases your chances. Your college should provide you with support from specialist staff with connections to certain industries. You could also get in contact with a recruitment company, sign up to job search websites or take a look at local job boards to see what opportunities there are in your area.


For those who would still like to continue their education, but are also keen to earn some money at the same time, apprenticeships are a great way to do that. You can find apprenticeships in almost any area from business services to creative professions, including intermediate, higher and degree level apprenticeships. Depending on the option you choose, you will split your time between your place of work and an academic site - either a university, college or training centre.

Higher and degree apprenticeships are paid for by the Government and the employer, so you don’t have to worry about the debt associated with a traditional degree course.

Sponsored Degrees

Sponsored degrees are another option for students who want to study and work in a related field at the same time, these degrees are paid for in part or in full by the company. Developed with a view to turn you into a valuable employee of the company, the amount of work will depend on the company - some will split your time evenly between work and study, while others will want you to attend full time courses and work in the school breaks.

These kinds of degrees are a great opportunity to get your foot in the door of national and international companies and help to give you a clear career path before you graduate. If you like the sound of degree courses which are developed with employers but don’t want to work with them while studying, there are also a range of courses developed with employer partners available to study without sponsorship.

Volunteering and Gap Year options

A lot of people are unsure of what they want to do straight out of school. It can feel overwhelming with making such a huge choice with a large amount of options and in the relatively short time given to make the decision. There isn’t the need to stress - you don’t have to decide right now. You can give yourself the time to think about what you want to do during a gap year.

Volunteer for a local charity or explore something new to add to your CV further down the line. In this year (or sometimes a few!), you could travel the world, join a summer camp or get a job abroad to give yourself some time to decide what you’d like to do next all while gaining experience and life skills that employees are looking for. It can be a great way to help you to stand out.

In summary, there are plenty of resources out there to help you to decide which option is best for you. Try and talk to as many different people as you can to get enough information about your options but, most importantly, think about yourself and what you want from life. You are more than the results you were awarded and they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your choices.

Formerly part of The Manchester College, UCEN Manchester has expert tutors who are passionate about giving students the knowledge and skills they need to progress and succeed in their chosen career. Its work-focused courses provide access to leading industries, world-class technical environments and like-minded students.