So the guessing is over! After 2 years of lessons, coursework, revision and exams, followed by 2 months of waiting, the results are out, and you know what you've achieved.
You may find yourself in a number of situations:
* You got all the grades you hoped for, you already have a definite plan, and it's all systems go?
Well congratulations, you! Before you sign on the dotted line, though, do check that those A levels/that particular apprenticeship/the college course you're intending to do is pointing you in the right direction, and leaves open the right employment/university choices at the age of 18.
* You got most of the grades you were hoping for, but just slipped up on 1 or 2?
Act quickly! This actually might not be a problem, but you must speak to your chosen college or sixth form as soon as possible. They might, depending on your grades, still let you do your original course choice, but ask you for example alongside it to do a retake in your maths or English as well; alternatively, they might ask you to do an extra year, and get more grades at foundation or intermediate level before moving onto your first choice.
* You are really disappointed with your grades, and can't do what you wanted?
It is not the end of the world! Just now it might feel like it, but it is not. Again, you need to act pretty quickly: get in touch with the employer/college/sixth form you were hoping to progress on to, and check what they have to say. If the message is negative, see below for what you need to do next.
Whichever of these categories you fall into - and even if you've been burying your head in the sand and avoiding making any big decisions for September - it is not too late to act, and there are loads of different sources of information, advice and guidance:
* Is there a Careers or Connexions office near where you live? They are staffed by skilled and impartial advisers, and they are free for you to visit and use.
* Have you looked at the UCAS Progress and the National Careers Service sites? They contain stacks of good information on the rules about leaving school, how to make wise choices, applying for apprenticeships, the differences between studying in a college and a school sixth form, and a thousand other things besides.
* Is there somebody in your college or sixth form who can advise you? Lots of places are open from mid-August onwards for exam results and enrolment. They might not know you ever so well, and you don't have to agree with what they say, but it surely worth hearing what they can tell you about what they have available, and how this could help you to achieve your goals.
* Call the Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000! As well as myself there are around 40 other careers advisers who will be ready to take your call from 13th August onwards to give you advice, support and guidance on all of the options available to you. We helped over 6,000 people who got their results last year by offering totally independent and impartial advice and we’ll be here to speak to you this year.
* Have you spoken with your family? You'd perhaps be surprised at how many of the students I work with have not! Your mum, your dad, your older sister or brother, they might not be an expert on apprenticeships, or applying to UCAS, or knowing what maths grade you need to do your dream job... but they might be a bit of a specialist on knowing what makes you tick, on your strengths and weaknesses, and on what might suit you best.
At the end of the day, you're moving in to the adult world, and you’re making your own adult choices; but there is a lot of information, advice and guidance out there to ensure that you help yourself to make the best choices.