You are in your last year of sixth form or your college course. You’ve raced to finish your final projects or are revising furiously for your end of years exams, all while trying to figure out what exactly it is you want to do for the rest of your life. Then someone throws a spanner in the works.
‘SO, which University are you going to?’
Obviously, if you’ve even considered going to University, you’ll have already started the laborious (not to put you off or anything) task of submitting your UCA’s application. You’ll have written your personal statement, a page worth of basically bigging yourself up to the point of borderline pretentiousness, and entered your whole educational history, which is always a sad moment if your GCSE results were shockingly rubbish! (OK, mind weren’t that bad but they weren’t the best!)
ATTENTION KIDS, revise for your GSCE’s because no matter how smart your are, you can’t ‘wing’ an exam. Which is totally not what I did… at all…
After submitting your completed application to UCA’s you could be waiting for as long as two months to hear back as to whether you have a conditional place on the courses you’ve chosen.
It’s a bit like X Factor really, expect Simon Cowell probably isn’t judging your applications. That would be too easy.
It can be a very worrisome and stressful time for some young people while waiting to hear back from University choices as to whether you have a conditional/unconditional place. This, as well as other factors, can put many people off.
Yet University is still the main option and popular for the next step in further education.
There is a lot of emphasis on the fact that a degree will allow you better career prospects. And a lot of the time it will. But University isn’t always for everyone.
Costly tuition fees, living expenses and being away from home are just some of many reasons people turn down university in search for a more suitable alternative.
Always make the decision that’s best for you and your future. The older generation often never got the the chance to go to University so may push the idea of taking this path. As much as University is a lot more accessible, the lifestyle that comes with it will not suit every individual.
I rushed into going to University thinking it was what everyone else expected from me. Everyone I knew was going and I felt I’d be looked down on for not extending my knowledge from my college course.
Turns out, Uni life really wasn’t for me. The binge drinking, night owl way of life was really not for this little home bird who much prefers sitting in front of the box then dropping some shapes in the club (and by shapes I mean slightly bending the knees to the beat of the music, I can’t dance, get over it)
There are a number of alternatives to University depending on the career path you wish to take. Here are suggestions for just a few options you could take and how they could help you.
Take a Gap Year
If you need some more time to think about your options, you can always apply to UCA’s for the year after and take a year out. When I say Gap Year I don’t necessarily mean travelling to Cambodia like a private school kid who wants to know how ‘the other people’ live. You can spend your year volunteering or find a part time job to get you a little extra money for if/when you do attend university. Either way, this is a great way to build work experience and makes for a stronger CV.
Go Part Time or Open
If you like the idea of continuing your studies but want it to be more felxible, especially if you have a job on the side, you could consider taking a part time course up (this is usually out of work hours) or an Open University course, which could mean you are only attending University once every two weeks, allowing you to studying at home in your own time.
In my personal opinion, this is probably the best alternative to anyone who enjoys studying but is put off by length and expensive courses. Apprenticeships allow you to ‘learn on the job’ as well as gain a qualification in your chosen subject, which is paid for by the Government/Employer. Work experience is invaluable and you can make money at the same time as studying. I will do a separate blog post all about apprenticeships!
If you are more interested in experience and earning money you can find a job that does not require qualifications in further education. Some businesses even offer programs that will allow you to gain management positions so there is always an opportunity to move up within a company depending on the sector.
There are lots of different options rather then university that will be equally as rewarding in the long run and can allow you to find an amazing career. Make sure you look carefully at all your options and know you are happy. Not going to Uni or even dropping out if it doesn’t work out isn’t that big of a deal.
You’ll find what you are passionate about and love to do, even if it takes some time.