Staying on at school to take more exams doesn't suit everyone, which was the case for a young man from Devon. Chris Rundle left school at 16 with just a couple of GCSEs.
He's now the managing director of a business which he hopes will turn over £1 million this year and he's only 18. Our correspondent Duncan Sleightholme's been to meet him.
It is 'A' levels results day - and across the region thousands of young people have been finding out if they've got the grades that could play an important part in shaping their career.
Nationally the number of students achieving top grades is slightly down. But here in the south west there are still plenty of success stories. Jeff Welch reports
The MP David Willetts is the Minister for Universities and Skills and spoke to ITV News West Country during a visit to UCAS in Cheltenham on Thursday:
Dom Anderson, Vice President of the National Union of Students, said students were reaping the benefits of going to university despite average debts of £26,000 and reports of student "poverty".
"It's completely worth it. University is a life-changing thing," Anderson told ITV News as many students found out today whether they had gained university places.
This is a very important day for all these young people and I would like to congratulate everyone on their achievements and wish them luck in whatever path they take.
I am delighted that, once again, many young people in Cornwall have done so well.”
It is important for the future of both our young people and for the future of Cornwall that all students have access to the highest possible quality of education.
While the majority of our schools are achieving high standards, we need to ensure that all are enabling students to achieve the maximum progress possible."
The chief executive of Ucas said students who applied late or got lower A-level grades than expected could still choose from a large selection of courses.
Mary Curnock Cook said:
We have nearly 30,000 courses which are advertising vacancies in clearing.
A lot of those will only be for people who have the very highest grades because the Government arrangements for funding mean that universities aren't limited as to how many of those they can recruit.
The reality is that there are vacancies across all sorts of courses and institutions.
So anybody who is applying late after they got their results or who didn't quite get what they wanted today, there are loads of opportunities for them to find out about what is available through our website.
Today’s results demonstrate the continued high achievement of students and the hard work of their teachers, irrespective of shifting goalposts and the many unfounded attempts to discredit the qualification.
It is however likely that in future years, as a result of the decoupling of AS-Levels from A-Levels as well as end to modularity, fewer disadvantaged students will continue in education.
The system should work to the advantage of these students, too, many of whom have considerable potential which should be nurtured.
Having taken youth unemployment over the 1 million mark, failed to protect the Educational Maintenance Allowance and greatly diminished careers advice services, it is hard to see what answers this Government is giving disadvantaged young people.
This lack of strategy is baffling particularly given the policy to increase the participation age in education to 18."
Maynard School in Exeter has sent us these photographs of students opening up their A Level results:
Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said after A-level results were revealed today:
We are worried about the Government's plans for new look A-levels.
We hope the Government rethinks its plans to return to a system of A-levels that only benefited an elite group of students who did well with an intensive regime culminating in one set of final course exams.
We think the current system, with AS-levels as the first half of an A-level, is better for the vast majority of students.
All Sixth form pupils in the upper year at Maynard School in Exeter have gained their first choice of university.
The school says many will be studying at Russell Group universities (representing 20 leading UK universities) including Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton, and St Andrews.
I am absolutely delighted with the performance ofall our students at A-level this year.
I am very proud of all theirachievements, and of the Maynard staff, whose academic and pastoral supportinspires the girls to work hard and to achieve highly year on year.”