Deciding what to do after college or sixth form studies can seem like a daunting decision, like how are you supposed to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life?
A lot of students use university as a means to put off the decision since, as an option, it is pretty close to the academic life that you have become used to through going to school and then college. While this may seem a convenient way to delay your entry into work, it may not always be the best option – at least not right away – so here we take a quick look at some of the options that are available to you.
Should I go to university?
University is still a hugely popular choice for young people. It allows you to not only leave home and have new experiences, but can also make you attractive to employers, increase your knowledge, and offer you a route into certain careers. Indeed, some career paths still require you to have a university degree. However, there are possible downsides too – while some may like the freedom of leaving home others will miss their friends and family, plus there is no getting around the fact that it is an expensive option. This expense is made more worrying by the fact that university doesn’t guarantee that you will land a great job when you graduate. There are other ways to get qualified for a career, and you can always look to go to university later if it doesn’t suit you right now.
University isn’t the only place offering the chance to learn, and BTECs or OCR Nationals offer another way to get qualified with a mixture of theory and practice. Mixing work experience with college work offers a little of both worlds, and a three-year HND (Higher National Diploma) could even allow you to study for a degree in your final year – which will certainly be cheaper than traditional university! Other options include studying for a degree while you work, for example with the Open University. This may require a little more dedication and motivation than university, but some employers will support you through this, so it is worth considering.
Should I get a job?
Plenty of successful people never went to university, but instead found a job and worked their way up. Getting your first pay is a great feeling, but choosing your ideal job can be tricky. Think of the subjects and hobbies that you enjoy and try to find something close to those if you can. A careers advisor should be able to help you align your likes to the workplace and find suitable jobs for you to look into. Look for careers that have progression and a career path so that you know you can grow with the role as your experience and skills increase. Of course, getting a job needn’t mean that you turn away from learning as many employers offer training or even the chance to get qualifications while you work.
Should I do an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are another route that are being heavily promoted by the government right now. Gaining a qualification while working, they offer work experience, support, and a wage while you train. While the news has reported on sub-standard apprenticeships, there are a great many that are excellent and offer a great route into a career. With many apprentices finding relevant work upon completing their apprenticeships, this path is particularly good if you have a decent idea as to what you would like to do.
Should I take a Gap Year?
For those of you who want to take some time out after the hard work of studying for you’re A-levels, a gap year is another great option. Whether you plan on going to university, getting a job, or finding an alternative route, a gap year can offer you some respite. However, it is not just about taking a year off, as a gap year can offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see the world. You may learn new skills, travel, and have some amazing experiences. However, you need to be aware that travelling can be expensive, so it might be worth breaking your gap year down, so that you work to earn some money before heading off. That said, volunteering can offer you an edge when it comes to looking for work or applying to university, as you will have something different to offer from those who went straight from college.
Overall, remember that no choice is better than another – it is all about what suits you and your aspirations. Speak with your parents, teachers, and a careers advisor to get help deciding which route is best for you.