NCEA results are out and while some Northland students are looking towards the study halls of Harvard and Yale, others are gleefully throwing in the academic towel.

Exam results released yesterday mean the wait is over for 170,000 high school students and their teachers.

Jesse Samu, 2015's Whangarei Boys' High School head boy, said it felt good to have rounded off his academic career and was looking towards a rock star future with local band Otium.

"It's been all good, I got level 3. I didn't go for an endorsement because I'm too busy doing everything else. This last year's been really hectic so it took away from school, which is not the most traditional approach. I saw [music] as being more important."

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Jesse said while it felt strange seeing his friends go off to university, he was settling down to a steady job to fund equipment, tours and promotions.

"We don't necessarily want to be famous, but definitely want to live off the money that we make from music. Already it's pretty much a part-time job. I've had to make a lot of sacrifices, like I've had to give up rugby because I could break a finger," the guitarist and singer said.

The most academic students - those sitting scholarship exams - still had another month to wait before finding out whether they would be getting a government contribution for their studies.

Among them was star student Finnian Smith, also of WBHS, who was more worried about upcoming interviews with scouts from Princeton and Yale universities. He had also applied to Harvard, Stanford and Chicago universities. The 18-year-old said this, as well as sitting the American SAT exams, was causing him more nerves and stress than the NCEA results. Finnian had rounded out his CV through soccer, swimming, being a house captain and his school's public speaker of the year.

"I don't want to be confident at all to be honest," he said of his upcoming interviews. "Though the interview is not a make or break ... The backup plan is to work for a year as a lifeguard and reapply ... Or do engineering at Auckland [University]."

Finnian said for many Year 13 students, the Level 2 results from last year were more important, as those were the ones universities looked most closely at, with Level 3 results coming out as most students had already been provisionally accepted.