PUPILS across Thurrock have been collecting their A-Level and college results.
At Palmer's College in Grays, hundreds of pupils went to pick up envelopes containing a piece of paper revealing the fruits of their efforts over the last two years.
The college, which caters for 2,000 pupils, attained a 97 per cent pass rate - the same as last year.
The growing Stanford and Corringham Sixth Form Centre [SCSFC] at Hassenbrook, achieved a 100 per cent pass rate, with 87 per cent of students getting two or more A Levels.
Mark Vinall, the principal at Palmer's College, said: "It's a wonderful day today with all of these students getting there results.
"The 97 per cent pass rate this year matches last year's high so it's very pleasing that we've maintained that level of success for our students.
"The years come and go and this is always a fantastic day and i'm always so pleased to see our students do so well."
While Dr Sophina Asong, head teacher at Gable Hall, one of the partner schools running SCSFC, said: "Our students are delighted with their results. This has been a fantastic year for them.
"What we offer is an obviously successful combination of ambitious students, effective parenting, good teaching and a strong partnership between our three schools.
"The result is what you see here, students with the highest aspirations. We wish them all the very best of fortunes, as they go on to university, apprenticeships and employment."
For many pupils, the results are their ticket to university.
Natasha Smith, 18, from Tilbury who joined the college after attending Grays Convent is off to Oxford to study Chemisty. She achieved three A*s, in Chemistry, Maths and Physics and got an A in AS level biology.
She was offered the place at one of the world's most prestigious universities earlier this year on the condition she got the grades required but was unsure after completing her exams, whether she would get those grades.
"I'm relieved," she told the Gazette. "I didn't think I would get in - I wasn't 100 per cent confident."
Natasha, who had been working 16 hours a day to get the grades, will start at Oxford in September.
Others did better than they expected. Mary Adesina, 18, who lives in Feenan Highway, Tilbury, has been offered a place studying Bio-medicine at University College, London.
But after getting three As, in Biology, Chemistry and Maths, the former Hassenbrook Academy pupil is hoping to "trade up" and study medicine elsewhere.
She said: "I always wanted to do medicine, but didn't think I would get the grades. Now there's nothing stopping me."
Charlotte Hardwick, 18, from Fobbing has her future mapped out after achieving a triple disctinction in performing arts.
"I'm off to Kent University to do a masters and can't wait. I want go into teaching drama at secondary schools, so once i've done my degree, i'll do my PGCE.
"That's something I decided I wanted to do in the last two years. It's helped me through college, having that goal."
Sarah-Jane Appleton, 18, is looking forward to the next chapter in her life. Two A*s in English Literature and Psychology, plus an A in History have earned her a place at Exeter.
She said: "I'm very happy and can't wait to start at Exeter. They have a great English course - and it's a long way away. I didn't want to go to university in this area or London."
Similarly, there were some outstanding performances at the SCSFC. Stephen Mann, 18, a former St Clere's pupil got four A*s and a B and is bound for Cambridge.
While former Gable Hall pupil Laura Skilling, 18, is off to Durham after getting three A*s and an A.
David Childs, 18, from Corringham, is off to King's College, London after getting one A* and four As. He said: "I am pleased for myself and others and happy that I came here."
Pupils at Stanford and Corringham Sixth Form Centre
Others face a less certain future now, with the world of work looming large. Gareth Hawkins, 18, of South Ockendon, who went to Palmer's, has been toying with the idea of going to America after winning a swimming scholarship. But the results have come out too late for him - with the course starting in the states next week.
He said: "I feel old now. You realise you've got to grow up and get into the real world of work. I wish i'd just gone straight into work, to be honest."
And for some, like Jack Waterman, 17, today signalled the half way point in his ambition to study Physics at Oxford. He got four As in his AS levels, but has another year at Palmer's yet.
"I've just got to keep working as hard as I have been," he said.