Life after A Levels


Most students leave Durham Johnston and go on to study at university.  In recent years, we have also seen a number of our students choose to qualify by degree apprenticeship. Achieving a degree is one of the best ways to secure a successful future career. The key factors in doing this are:

  • Choosing the right A levels.
  • Being ambitious and hard-working.
  • Developing independent learning.
  • Achieving your full potential.
  • Being well informed and supported in applying to university.


What’s Next? (Preparation for Higher Education) is our own special course to help sixth formers prepare themselves for life after A levels.  We help you explore what is the right next step for you and this may be university, a degree or higher apprenticeship, or something else. We will help support your through research, applications and the selection process. You will have fortnightly lessons with Mrs Lennon (Head of Sixth Form) or Mr Wilbraham (Deputy Head of Sixth Form).  We also have a rich programme of additional sessions, including extra support for students applying for medicine or to Oxford and Cambridge, students exploring studying overseas, and students who may be eligible for Widening Participation support from universities. We also have many close links with our excellent local universities who we work with for study skills advice, support programmes and when students need practice interviews. Additionally, we help prepare you for living independently, including respectfully living with others and managing your own finances.


“If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening my axe.” (Abraham Lincoln). 

The importance of researching your options cannot be overstated.  The websites below are a great starting point.  However, there will undoubtedly be a lot of redundant information available – persevere – and ask if you are unsure about anything you find (or can’t find).


It should always be remembered that fulfilling your potential and getting the best possible grades in your A levels will help give you choices throughout your career – your future success starts here.




This is an invaluable website for information, and the only way you can apply for university.


Degree / Higher Apprenticeships. 
Qualify / study while you work.  These are not the ‘easy’ option and will still require you to have the best A levels you are capable of.

University information / comparison.
These are a great source of information and important in your research.


Gap Years 

Student Finance
Student loans, scholarships, bursaries, budgeting etc.  Your growing independence will require you to have more influence over your money management – do the research and build good habits early.



Overseas Study.
This is likely to be less familiar to you.  We usually get A Star Future to come in and talk with you during a lunchtime, each year.  




New research comes out all of the time; be proactive in seeking out relevant information and opportunities – if unsure – do ask.


Competitive Degree Courses – Extra Support

As mentioned above, we do offer extra support to students applying to competitive courses such as those at Oxford and Cambridge, and at Medical schools. Please see the additional documents below on support for early deadlines for these.

Guidance for Competitive Courses