A-Level and GCSE results: What happens if it does not go to plan? – BBC

By Neve Gordon-Farleigh
BBC News, East

As envelopes are torn open and websites refreshed on A-Level results day, young people are anxiously finding out whether they can take the next big step in their lives. But what happens if it does not go to plan? With GCSEs and other results also due this month, three people whose career journeys did not go as expected tell us how their paths in life have taken twists and turns, but have gone from strength to strength.
"When I got my UCAS offer I actually declined it on the spot because it was too expensive," says Victoria Wright from Milton Keynes.
Growing up, the 26-year-old always wanted to work in the fashion industry and applied to Bournemouth University to study a degree that would help her get her dream job.
But coming from a working class background, she says she did not want to "burden" her parents with the financial difficulties of going to university.
"My aim was always to go into the beauty industry, into the fashion industry and presenting… that was what I always wanted to do," she says.
After taking several jobs in retail and hospitality, the skills she learned helped her gain a job as a junior buyer in the engineering sector.
But during one of the Covid-19 lockdowns she decided to download the TikTok app and started posting videos.
"I had the biggest vision board you'll ever see in your life," she says.
Starting out by posting fashion videos in her bedroom, she now collaborates with brands as an influencer and presenter and works in an industry she always wanted to be a part of.
"I'm living my 10-year dream," says Victoria, who now boasts 700,000 online followers.
"I feel like when you don't have the qualifications it can be quite difficult to push your way into the fashion industry.
"But if you've got passion and drive it really radiates to your audience."
Her advice to young people is: "Whatever is meant to be will be, and without taking anything away from people who have worked really hard… a piece of paper does not define you as a person and that piece of paper does not determine that worth."
Kit Brown, a 23-year-old primary school teacher from Luton, never started off wanting to become a teacher. He always aspired to become a footballer.
A promising young player, he was snapped up by Luton Town, but five years ago his dream was shattered after he became injured and he ended up being released by the club.
He says the decision was "really hard to take" and he found it tough picking himself back up after he was convinced he could go professional.
After making the heart-breaking decision to quit football for good, and feeling the weight of expectation on his shoulders, he studied for his A-Levels and went to Hertfordshire University to study primary school teaching.
"I've always had a passion for helping younger children and helping people learn and that passion has stayed inside of me," he says.
After an "incredible" first placement, he says he was left feeling like "this is what I want to do with my life, this is the most rewarding job in the world".
He has set up a social media account to "break the stereotype" that primary teaching is just for women.
"If I've inspired one person and especially a young male to think about having a career in primary school teaching, then I think that's worth its weight in gold," he says.
His advice to young people finding themselves at a crossroads, is: "Just because things don't work out the way you wanted to initially, it doesn't mean something can't blossom into something that will change your life."
If you had asked Charlotte Cliffe five years ago if she would be at university, she would have said "absolutely no way".
At the age of 38, she is now in her second year at university studying for a nursing degree.
"I left school at 16. I didn't want to go to university, I just wanted to go out and get a job," she says.
The 38-year-old, from Hertfordshire, fell pregnant with her first child after meeting her husband and "parked any idea of a career" to bring up her children.
Without any A-Levels, she did not know whether university was a possibility.
But an access to learning course introduced her back into education where she learned how to write essays and prepared her to take the next step of going to university.
She says: "When I started looking into it, there was an access to nursing course and that was done via distance learning… it meant I could study at home."
After completing her course, she applied to the University of Bedfordshire and was offered a place to study nursing through the clearing team.
After her father was taken ill, she says seeing the "fantastic care from the community and hospice nursing teams" was what inspired her to become a nurse.
She says her advice to young people would be: "If I can do it at 38 with three children then anyone can.
"There have been obstacles along the way… but I've proved to myself there are ways around it."
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