GCSE results day is upon us, and hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the country will be finding out this morning what the future holds for them.
With rising university fees and growing choice in vocational courses, more and more students are turning towards apprenticeships and further education as real alternatives.
Many of the teenagers picking up their results will have already been in education for the best part of 12 years and are legally required to stay in education for another two.
But luckily for those who shudder at the idea of two more years at the same school, being in further education or training has a lot more to offer than A-levels.
1. Do an apprenticeship
If you want to delve straight into the world of work and get a bit of money while you're trained, an apprenticeship may be the route for you.
The quality and rates of pay vary, but there are lots fabulous apprenticeship opportunities out there and lots of organisations who can point you in the right direction.
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2. Do a traineeship
Not quite ready for an apprenticeship? Need to work on your skills?
Traineeships are aimed at those who want to do an apprenticeship later on and generally last up to six months.
They provide work preparation training, English and maths tutoring if you need it, and the work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment.
You won’t be paid, but you may be given expenses for things like travel and meals.
3. Go to your local college
Sixth form colleges tend to cater for pupils between 16 and 18 doing academic subjects at A-level and looking to go on to university.
Further education colleges are generally much bigger, offer a wider range of subjects, including vocational BTECs and NVQs, and are not just for teenagers.
If you’re coming towards the end of a school or college course, you’re guaranteed a place on an FE course the following autumn if you’re under 18 years old.
The national picture
Girls are expected to maintain their dominance over boys across the vast majority of subjects when the results are released this morning.
According to Professor Alan Smithers, director of Buckingham University's Centre for Education and Employment Research, the "results this year will be very close to what they were last year, but the increase in people repeating maths and English could lower the top grades slightly because these candidates are more likely to be aiming for a C".
He added: "Girls are a long way ahead of boys, doing better in 47 of the 49 subjects and being over 15 percentage points ahead in English."
Last year's results showed 73.1 per cent of female students were awarded at least a C grade - generally considered to be a "good" pass - compared with just 64.7 per ent of their male counterparts.
Thursday's results include the largest-ever volume of students resitting English and maths - a 26 per cent increase on last year.
The rise comes after stipulations were brought in under the coalition Government that ruled teenagers in England who do not score at least a C grade in both subjects at the age of 16 must continue to study them for a further two years, or until they reach this level.
Exams sat this year were final time students will be graded in the traditional manner ahead of Government reforms.
From next summer, pupils will take reformed courses in English language, English literature and maths.
These subjects will be marked numerically - from nine for the top-performing students down to one for those who have struggled.
The changes will be rolled out across a further 17 subjects by summer 2018.