Sometimes, there is an immense amount of pressure and stress put on individuals to go to university even though it may not be for them. This stress may come from family, friends, teachers and even stigma surrounding university. It is important to note that university is not the only option and just because you do not attend, does not mean you are not as ‘able’ as others. There are several other routes you can take to be successful.
1. Vocational Courses- These are courses that are provided by colleges or schools. They are job specific and the aim of them is to increase practical experience. Some areas in which vocational courses are present are health and social care, hairdressing and plumbing. They can be taken in place of A levels or can be taken alongside A levels. You will receive a qualification at the end of the course.
2. Gap Year- This is something you can take after you have finished your A levels. There are many benefits that come along with taking a gap year. Some people may use this as a chance to gain work experience, re-do any A levels, earn money, travel the world or to simply figure out what they want to do next whether that be going to university, doing an apprenticeship or going straight into work. Gap years give you the time focus on your needs and wants for your future.
3. Apprenticeships- You can take on an apprenticeship either after finishing your GCSEs or your A levels. Regardless of when you choose to do one, you will be working and earning at the same time without worrying about the cost as it is paid for by the government. Apprenticeships will vary in duration depending on what you decide to do. At the end of your apprenticeship, you will be awarded with a degree like you would at the end of a university course.
4. Internships- This is when you work for a company or an organisation for a period of time to gain experience. You can get paid on internships but this is not always the case. The advantage of doing an internship is that if the company like you enough, they may offer you an official job position. This would work well if you thought that that particular job suited you. Sometimes you may realise that a particular job isn’t for you through these internships and this in hindsight saves you a lot of valuable time as internships usually only last a couple month. This then gives you the freedom to keep searching for what is right for you.
5. Foundation Degrees- These are degrees that last around 2 years and are at a foundation level. The degree is equivalent to 2/3 of an honours degree. These degrees are available across many subjects at almost every university. As they are subject or job specific, work placements are also part of the degree. This therefore means you are part-time studying and part-time working. After completing your foundation degree you will have two options. The first option would be to find a job or the second option would be to ‘top up’ your degree for it to be equivalent to an undergraduate degree. This ‘top up’ can be done through further work experience or extra studying.
6. The Workforce- You could decide that studying is not for you and you want to go into full time or part time working and that is completely fine. Although it may be harder to get the top jobs, you could still work your way up in time. In addition, some employers do also offer training programmes which will help make you even more suitable for the job. These programmes are designed to improve skills and knowledge that are needed for the role you are applying for.
As you can see the options are endless. Do not be tricked into thinking university is the be all and end all. Do what is best suited to you.