4 min reading

Rethinking university?

If you feel like the only one struggling to imagine life after school, don’t panic. Higher education might seem like the obvious next step, but with the average student now graduating in debt to the tune of a whopping £50k, many young people are weighing up whether university is for them.

The good news is not all successes happen in the exam room. In fact, there’s a whole world of practical and vocational options out there for you to explore…

Enrol onto an apprenticeship scheme

As an apprentice, you’ll have an opportunity to earn as you learn. That’s right, you’ll be working full-time – and getting paid a wage! – to gain the practical skills needed for the role, whilst studying at a college, university or training provider part-time.

Despite popular belief, apprenticeships are not just for those wanting to work in manual labour jobs. There are more than 250 different types of apprenticeship programmes, ranging from accounting and IT to hairdressing and journalism. See for yourself.

Complete a further education course

Just because you don’t want to go to university, doesn’t mean your days in a classroom have to end. In 2014 it became compulsory for all students to stay in some form of further education until their 18th birthday, giving rise to a raft of alternative courses – but unlike undergraduate degrees, they don’t come with a hefty price tag. Better yet, the following are free to anyone under 19 years old:

  • T-Level qualifications

  • BTEC diplomas

  • Foundation degrees

  • Higher National Diploma courses.

Head to the UCAS website for more information about post-16 qualifications.

Start your own business

Tempted to turn your side hustle into your dream job? The Buckinghamshire Business First Be Your Own Boss programme can help you develop the skills and meet the contacts you need to successfully make the leap to entrepreneur. Just don’t forget us when you’re making millions…

Apply for an internship

If you’re keen to start working as soon as possible, an internship will put the first rung on the career ladder in reach. Whilst work experience tends to be more informal (and involve a lot of tea-making), internships usually have set entry requirements and responsibilities.

Sign up to Student Jobs to be the first to know about the latest placements in your area.

Take a gap year

Whether you’re teaching English in Thailand or volunteering at your local charity shop, taking some time out can be a great way to determine what you want to do long term. Worried about gaps in your CV? Don’t be – experiences like those offered at International Volunteering HQ will help you develop skills and gain knowledge that employers want.

Still on the fence? We’ve been given extra funding by the Careers & Enterprise Company to offer Buckinghamshire students in Year 11 through to 14 free one-to-ones with trained careers advisors. Find out more.

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