TODAY marks the start of the examination results season for school and college students in England and Wales.

Over the next two weeks, thousands of young people will be celebrating their achievements and making crucial decisions about their next steps.

There are so many options including apprenticeships, further training, employment and for many the prospect of securing a place at university will be a key priority this week.

The A-level and GCSE results days don’t always go to plan for some students and this can be a nerve-racking and emotional time for everyone involved.

If your son or daughter does not achieve the grades required for their first or second university choice, they can apply to other universities through the process of clearing ­— and the support and advice they receive during this period could be vital to their success.

Students need calm, non-judgemental support from everyone involved and most importantly should hit the ground running.

The number of places accepted through clearing reached a record high last year, the negative associations previously attached to the process no longer apply ­— it is very much a “buyers’ market”.

The most-popular courses will fill up within the first few hours after the release of examination results and although it is inevitable that emotions will be running high, it is important to remember that the early bird really does catch the worm in clearing.

The advice must be to take a deep breath, collect yourselves, think carefully about courses and hit the phones, seek help and if you can, save the emotions until later ­— it may be that you end up celebrating after all.

In our experience, students who secure a place through clearing end up at the right university and on the right course for them, which after all, is the outcome we should all be aiming for.