Awaiting A-levels? Teens turn to family first for advice on results day, study reveals

As the anticipation for A-level results day builds for teens across Manchester, mums and dads should be preparing to act as careers advisers, according to a recent study.

Careers expert Prospects spoke to 1,423 school students and found out 84% rely on family above all other forms of advice when making decisions about their futures.

Advice from family was clearly ranked above teachers as just 69% of the under 18s turned to them for help deciding on a career or further education, while only 53% said friends and actual careers advisers ranked lowest at 50%.

Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects, said: “Family are clearly the power house behind education and career decisions for this age group, so it’s vital that we support parents and carers as much as students.”

The vast majority of teens (78%) surveyed planned to go to university but for different reasons – 53% to further study a subject they enjoy, 27% to get a better job and 12% to increase their lifetime earnings.

Most of these students (77%) already knew what kind of job they would like to do with 31% deciding in the first year of sixth form and 30% in Year 10 and 11.

More than one in ten said it was something that they had wanted to do for as long as they could remember.

Of those who planned to go straight into work or an apprenticeship (18%), a third said it was because they felt they could have a good career without a degree – and a quarter said they wanted to start earning money while one in ten was fed up of studying.

Charlie added: “People are making important decisions about their future careers from their early teens, so this is a vital time for offering guidance.

“We offer graduate careers advice and jobs, yet more than one in ten of those browsing our site are age 18, so we know this group is already career savvy, thinking ahead and has an appetite for advice.

“We are currently forging relationships with the government and other influential groups to help better serve this age group.”

Despite being confident in their decision making, students showed some confusion over the options available.

And around half didn’t know the difference between a job, an apprenticeship and a school leaver programme.

To help out, Prospects has put together this list of results day top tips for the people these teens are most likely to turn to for advices – their mums, dads, or guardians.

Ensure your child has their UCAS Track log-in to hand, to check whether their chosen university has accepted them. Finding out they have a place this way, means no need to ring the university or UCAS.

If they cannot access Track or find that the university hasn’t yet made a decision, help them plan, practice and make a persuasive phone call to the university. They may be offered a place even if they have dropped a grade or two.

Successfully got the grades but changed their mind about their first choice? A prompt call to the university is essential to ask to be released from this offer, before they can be considered for any other university place, including their insurance choice.

Most importantly – don’t let your son or daughter get caught up in the frenzy of Results Day. Ensure they take time to research alternative courses properly, get careers advice and avoid committing themselves to three years of study which isn’t right for them

Finally, if they don’t get a university place, reassure them that there are other options. They could gain valuable experience on a gap year and reapply, study for a professional qualification, or consider combining work and study on an Apprenticeship. 

For more information about Prospects’ research or for information for school and college leavers looking for alternatives to university, click here

Image courtesy of City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, with thanks.

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