Not sure university is for you?

Not sure university is for you?

About to finish school? While uni is great for some people, it isn’t right for everyone. Here are 4 signs you should consider your options


Nearing the end of your time at school? Given the hefty price tag attached to getting a university education, thousands of smart young people are busy weighing up the alternatives. 

While uni is still a fantastic option for many plotr readers, others are discovering that apprenticeships, vocational courses and school-leaver programmes offer a better balance of learning and earning. If you’re unsure about what to do next, here are five signs that you should consider the body-swerving uni and opting for one of the alternatives instead…

1. Libraries makes you yawn

Some people love spending hours reading and researching – while others struggle to stay awake! If you’re in the second camp, remember that there are lots of places you can learn new things – a library is just one of them. Qualifications like NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications), HNDs (Higher National Diplomas) and HNCs (Higher National Certificates) are advanced-level, work-based training courses perfect for ambitious students looking for alternatives to university. What’s more, if you want to, you can top up your HND by doing a one-year course at university, transforming it into a vocational ‘degree’ that’s considered impressive by lots of employers.

2. You love a flat-pack

Can you build an IKEA bookshelf in under an hour? Can you fix a broken lamp? Are you awesome at French plaits? Don’t under-sell your skills – lots of supposedly clever people fall apart when faced with these real-life problems! If you’re a practical person who finds it easy to create and fix stuff, then you could be a natural carpenter, electrician or hairdresser. If you excel with hands-on challenges, you may well find that a vocational course is for you. If you’re looking for a course, check out your options on the City & Guilds website. If you’re keen to get started in a real-life workplace, look into apprenticeships or school leaver programmes like the one at Barclays or Siemens.

3. You want to break free

Desperate to escape school and strike out on your own in the world? If you’re yearning for independence, you can skip full-time learning and fast-track your way to gaining great experience and earning a salary. Doing an apprenticeship means you’ll earn while you learn – so you’re paid a wage at the same time as picking up skills and qualifications that will impress future employers. And we’re not just talking plumbing and carpentry (though you can do that too). Loads of employer you wouldn’t expect run apprenticeships now, including Barclays bank and the Royal Opera House! To find out more about apprenticeships click here

4. If your mates weren’t going, you wouldn’t even consider it

If you signed up for uni, would it be to broaden your knowledge and study a subject you love? Or is it just because your mates are all going and your parents and teachers haven’t talked you through the alternatives? Lots of schools (and parents, as much as we love them!) don’t realise how fast things are changing – and that a uni degree is no longer a must-have for the big, prestigious employers. Lots of top companies – including Waitrose, race car manufacturer Williams and accountancy firm Deloitte – now run school-leaver programmes especially for young people who’ve decided to give uni a miss. (Seriously, if you have a degree, you can’t apply!) Some of these programmes, like the Deloitte BrightStart initiative, provide up to five years of professional training, which you don’t pay a penny for. Better still, they’ll pay you for the work that you do!

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