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The future is yours

However you’re feeling about results day, we’re here to help you plan for the future you want. You’ve got this!

student on results day 2020

3 Steps to Take – Whatever Your Grades

1. Take a deep breath and recognize your options

Excitement, sadness, confusion; results day is bound to trigger many different emotions – especially after a year like 2020!  If things didn’t go to plan, get in touch with UCAS and your chosen universities who will help you navigate the clearing process, and read our guide on dealing with results day stress

But don’t forget your options are much wider than that. Your life doesn’t stop or start with results day, so whether things go to plan or the plan requires a rewrite – keep your chin up and stay open-minded. There’s no straight path to success and aside from exams, degrees, and qualifications,  employers are looking for tenacious and passionate people who don’t falter at the first hurdle.

Remember that A-level and GCSE students in England and Northern Ireland have been given a ‘triple lock’ guarantee. That means their final results can’t be lower than their mock exams and the Scottish government has agreed to accept teacher estimates of scores. If your marks don’t meet your expectations, you can appeal. 

If that’s not the path you want to take, there are plenty of exciting careers that don’t require a degree. What’s your long-term goal, and do you need a degree to get there?

Discover the highest paid jobs with no degree required. 

2. Build confidence in your next step

However you’re feeling, take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come and carve out time to think about how you want the next few weeks and months to go. 2020 has been a tough year, and if results, applications, or the clearing process have left you feeling low, it’s important to regroup.

Whether you want to build up your skills and experience, retake your exams or switch to a more affordable online course, trust in yourself to make a new plan. Circumstances change and with the ‘new normal’, you can approach your learning and career development in a way that works for you.

Find out why online learning is so highly recommended. 

3. Consider the gaps between where you are today and where you want to be

Not sure what the right next step is? Visualise yourself in the future. What goals are you achieving? What does your success look like? Work backwards from there and identify what you can do today to take the first step.

We offer hundreds of free short courses and microcredential qualifications you can do online that can help get you started. And don’t forget about soft skills like teamwork, creativity, and leadership that will help you ace whatever role you choose. In just ten hours, a short course can be a flexible and affordable way of enhancing your CV with the digital, technical, and practical skills you need to get ahead.

Check out our complete guide to digital skills.

Or this complete guide to soft skills. 

students on results day

Let’s start at the beginning

We know this year has been dramatic and unsettling but if you’re reading this then you’ve already been through a lot. You’ve finished your education in the middle of a pandemic, where industries rose and fell, and uncertainty is the only certainty. It’s been stressful, scary, and long – but you made it! And now you get the chance to think differently about how you might navigate your lifetime of learning that lies ahead.

While this next step comes with some questions about our collective future, this year has seen businesses and educational institutions around the world embrace flexibility and technology in a way that has never been seen before. This should fill you with the confidence to know that whatever grades you’re awarded, there are still ways for you to achieve your goals or even transform them completely. 

Online learning with FutureLearn is a great way of ensuring you reach your next goal. 

Whether you want to continue studying subjects you love, hop straight into professional work, or take some time off to figure what you care about – we’ve got options that cater for all budgets, passions, hobbies and career ambitions. 

Start exploring today.

Results day and clearing

Your school or college should have prepared you for receiving digital results this year, early in the morning on Thursday 13th August (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland). If you’re worried about the clearing process then it might be best to set an alarm as clearing is a first come first serve process. We loved this advice from @florencethepa based on her own experience:

Avoid Heartbreak

  • Be realistic with yourself and try not to obsess with your first choice.
  • Try to emotionally detach from ‘the dream’ so that you don’t waste time on the day itself if things don’t go to plan.

Do the prep

  • Research five backup universities the day before, call to ask about their clearing process, and email the admissions tutor to flag your interest.
  • Look for courses that are similar or variations of your preferences and that ask for a variety of grade options, eg biochem vs biomed.
  • Make sure you’re clear on the process of appealing your results.
  • Save your five backup university phone numbers on your phone.

Pay attention to details

  • Fill a notebook with your name, DOB, GCSE and A-level results, your UCAS number, and a copy of your personal statement. Also include your five back up options of university and their phone numbers, as well as the course names.
  • Write down the grades required for each and any questions you have about the course.
  • Jot down a few notes about why you want to do each course and why you’d be a good fit for it, in case you have to do phone interviews.

Be persistent

  • As the queues may be long, you might want help from friends and family to call multiple clearing lines for different universities.
  • Don’t be afraid to be as honest and open as possible about why you didn’t achieve the grades.
  • Every day new places open up and get confirmed, so it’s worth trying until you get an option you’re happy with – sometimes it can take days for this to happen.
  • You have 24 hours to make a final decision so remember not to rush into it.
  • Keep the faith, you will get a great course.

Heading to University

Once you have a university place confirmed (congrats!), make sure you use the time between now and the start of term to make sure you get the most out of your experience.

Online courses are a great way to try university-level learning, explore new topics, and practice learning alongside other students before you make it to campus. 

Remote lectures may be in place at your institution so completing online courses during your time off can help you prepare for these. 

We even have a course to help you get the most out of studying at a British university, so you can really hit the ground running and feel confident in the learning styles and expectations – this is particularly recommended for anyone traveling to the UK to take up their university place.

Your degree will obviously have plenty to keep you busy, but it’s worth remembering that online courses can supplement your learning; helping you develop study skills, soft skills, digital skills, or language skills to complement your course content.

Off to work or taking a break?


If you’re leaving formal education behind for now, online learning can be a great way to keep your brain active and skills fresh.

Want to get off to a good start in the job market? Or maybe you’ve got some time out planned to travel locally, do volunteering or complete work experience? Our Unlimited short course package unlocks thousands of courses for less than £200 and is a great way of developing your skills and passions over the course of the year without the commitment of a full degree

Our career-focused microcredentials will also help you with any professional ambitions you have and enable you to study in a modular way towards a qualification which also earns you academic credit. All of our microcredentials are co-created with renowned universities and course providers and cover in-demand subjects in tech, data, business, teaching and healthcare.

For the ultimate exercise in online learning, we currently offer two graduate degree courses which can be taken entirely online giving you the flexibility you need to support and invest in your education online; Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action from Deakin University in Australia or a BA in Management and Leadership from Coventry University.

Results day resources

We understand that results day is always stressful, and this year is even harder. We’ve put together some resources to help you to make decisions about university, prepare yourself, or just reduce stress.

How to deal with the stress of results day: tips and advice to reduce stress levels.

How to choose a university: factors to consider when you’re choosing the right place to go for your degree.

Is online university worth it?: a review of the pros and cons of doing a degree online.

The highest paid jobs that don’t require a degree: an overview of some great careers in the UK where you don’t need a degree.

20 things to do if you deferred university – a quick guide to everything you could do in your year off to make the most of it.

Effective decision-making, at home and at work – this isn’t university-specific, but goes through different ways to make important decisions and might help you to structure your thoughts today.


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