The fact remains that university isn't for everyone. Even those who do have their sights set on higher education have at some point asked themselves "is university worth it?", particularly given the extra financial responsibilities and higher tuition fees.
Of course, the answer will be different for everyone, but for those who have decided they're not going to university, the next question should be "what are the alternatives?" We've put together this post to help you explore your options.
'If you're not going to university, then you need to know what the alternatives are'
What are your career options if you're not going to university?
So you're not going to university, but that doesn't mean that your career options are limited. Did you know that some of the most successful people in the UK and the world don't have a university education? Whether you don't feel ready yet or don't have the grades needed to get in, it's important that you know what your career options are.
To help you decide which career path to take, start by looking at what you're good at. Consider these two questions:
- What skills do you have that would come in useful for jobs?
- What subjects were you good at in school?
From here, start making a list of all the possible jobs/career areas that might be suitable for you. Don't be put off by thinking you're aiming too high, remember, we've all got to start somewhere. Unless you already have the skills and qualifications needed for the careers on your list, you'll probably find that you need to gain some work experience or take extra classes in order to get started on these career paths.
Once you have a shortlist of potential career paths, you can start working towards gaining and developing the skills, qualifications and experience that you'll need to apply for jobs in theses areas. Take a quick look at this video for some advice from school leavers and experts on navigating what can be quite a tricky time in your life:
For more information on finding the right career for you, take a look at our top ten tips for getting started with your career.
Gain some work experience
The key to finding work experience opportunities is to reach out to companies.
Whatever career you have in mind, the chances are that as a school leaver, you'll need to gain some experience in the industry before you'll be considered for a position with a company.
Finding work experience opportunities is easier than you may think. First, start close to home. Who do you know that works in an industry that you're interested in? When it comes to organising work experience placements, sometimes it's not just what you know but who you know that gets you a foot in the door.
Make sure that you have a tailored CV ready to send off to potential companies in these areas. In most cases, work experience opportunities won't be advertised publicly, so you'll need to be pro-active and contact companies directly.
Do an apprenticeship
These days, apprenticeships aren't just for people who want to do a practical job like plumbers and electricians, although these are options open to you if that's what you're looking for. But there are opportunities in many other high-skilled professions as well, from engineering and IT to public relations and management.
Many of these are down to the new higher-level apprenticeships targeted at people who have just completed A-levels, Scottish highers or the International Baccalaureate: higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships.
This is an option you should seriously consider if you've decided you're not going to university, particularly if it's the money side rather than the studying that's clinched it for you. Both qualifications allow you to study for academic qualifications all the way up to a master's, and a degree apprenticeship (as the name suggests) has a degree built in.
What's more, every qualification is designed by the university in collaboration with your employer, so everything you learn will directly back up the knowledge, skills and experience you gain at work. And your degree will be fully paid by your employer and the government, while you'll earn a wage at work.
Apply for school leaver programmes
"What are school leaver programmes?", we hear you ask. Well, to quote ourselves in another post:
'A school leaver programme is a scheme run by large employers for school students, normally in Year 13, who have the qualifications to go to university, but would rather enter into the world of employment.'
There not a million miles away from apprenticeships, and if you've decided that you're not going to university and would prefer to start working instead, a school leaver programme could be a great option for you.
Perhaps the best thing about being part of one of these programmes is that employers typically give you the opportunity to combine work and study by paying for you to complete a degree as part of your programme.
Because you'll be gaining work experience as well as studying, it'll take you a bit longer to obtain your degree but once you do, you'll find yourself in the unique position of having both a degree and extensive experience of working in an industry.
Take a gap year
Not going to uni? Consider taking some time out on a student gap year.
If you haven't decided you're definitely not going to university, but at the same time you're not sure whether it's for you, perhaps you need to take some time out to think about it.
Taking a gap year is a great way to clear your head and reflect on what you really want out of a career. We have a whole section of our website dedicated to giving gap year advice to students, which you should definitely check out.
At seventeen or eighteen years old, it can be difficult to envisage what you'll career you'll have in the future, so rather than making rash decisions, why not spend some time thinking about it? A gap year can be a great way to experience living in a different country and meet new people that wouldn't otherwise staying at home.
Not going to university? Check out what school leaver programmes are available through our site to help you understand the options open to you.