As you pass through high school and then sixth form or college, you will probably hear all of the teachers emphasise the benefits of going to university. Consequently, students often think that university is the only option for them to get a good job that pays the bills. However, it has got to be said that university is not for everyone. For those students who don’t really like being academic, university is probably not the best option. However, there are plenty of other alternatives to university that can help students to get extremely impressive jobs.
If you want to discover what these alternatives are and some details about what they involve, check out the rest of this article to find out which route will suit you best!
1. Do an apprenticeship
One of the most well-known alternatives to university is getting an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are paid work opportunities, where individuals are taught about the job they are currently doing, whilst gaining the skills they need for an impressive career. An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to earn money and gain the skills you need to get a job that you can be proud of.
Apprenticeships are great for individuals who prefer practical based learning and who want to go straight into the workplace but perhaps need some support. If you do go for an apprenticeship however, you must be aware that you won’t be doing practical based work all the time.
In fact, 20% of your time during the apprenticeship must be spent in a university or college doing classroom-based learning. Regardless, this is not a lot of time at all!
Most of your hours will be spent in the workplace, making sure that you gain valuable hands- on work experience, learning skills for the real world, whilst being paid at the same time! You can discover more about what an apprenticeship is on this page from the government website.
Alternatively, this article from Think Student contains an immense amount of valuable information on apprenticeships. There are different levels of apprenticeships, with a Level 2 apprenticeship being equivalent to GCSEs and a Level 3 apprenticeship equating to A-Level qualifications.
Any level above these are apprenticeships which are equivalent to university levels of study which you can discover in more detail if you check out this article from Think Student. If you don’t want to go to university full time but want to gain a degree, a degree apprenticeship could also be an option!
You can find out more about this qualification if you check out this article from Think Student.
2. Get a job
Sometimes, once a student finishes their A-Levels or equivalent qualifications, they never want to be in education or learn anything again! This is understandable, especially if they have found education difficult in the past.
Consequently, it may be best to just get a job. You may be thinking that other people will look down at you if you don’t go to university and get a job instead. However, this is not the case at all!
Getting a job and providing for yourself is an impressive feat and you should never be put off just because of what you think others may say. Getting a job straight away instead of going to university would be great for those individuals who just want to dive into the real world of work and earn money.
There are plenty of different jobs you could apply for as a school leaver. This article from Indeed gives plenty of good job ideas which may interest you.
Don’t feel disheartened if your first job doesn’t pay you a lot of money. This is because as you work for longer, your amount of experience will increase and you could work your way up in certain companies.
You can also find job ideas in this Think Student article.
3. Gain HNC/HND Qualifications
The term ‘HNC’ stands for a Higher National Certificate and the term ‘HND’ stands for a Higher National Diploma. They are both higher, vocational qualifications that can be taken as an alternative to university.
These terms sound quite similar; however, they do have many key differences. A HNC qualification takes one year to complete, if you are studying full-time, and is equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree.
In comparison, a HND qualification takes two years to complete and is equivalent to the first two years of an undergraduate degree. This means that after you gain these qualifications, you could go to university and begin your second year after completing a HNC or begin your third year after completing a HND.
However, these qualifications are not just routes to university, they are also alternatives to university. They may not be equivalent to a full university degree, however they are still greatly valued by employers.
This is because they help students to prepare for a career, creating ideal candidates for employers. You can discover more about HNDs and HNCs and what they are equivalent to if you check out this article from the Middlesex University website.
HNCs and HNDs are ideal for those individuals who want to gain some higher qualifications in education but who may not have the correct grades required to get into university. This is because the entry requirements for HNCs and HNDs are generally quite low!
You can discover what the entry requirements are and more information about these qualifications in general if you check out this article from Think Student.
4. Do a traineeship
Traineeships are quite short arrangements used to help very specific individuals. However, they are still an excellent alternative to university!
Traineeships are usually aimed at individuals who don’t have the skills or experience needed to apply for an apprenticeship or job. Traineeships can then give individuals the skills they need to get them ready for the workplace!
These schemes are usually targeted at 16-24 year olds, providing them with a work placement in order to help them gain hands on experience in the workplace. There is a great variation in how long traineeships can last, although they are all quite short!
This is because some traineeships can only last six weeks, whilst others could last up to a year! If you want to discover more technicalities about traineeships, check out this article from the Youth Employment UK website.
If you don’t really want to go to university but may need a little help gaining skills for employment to make your CV stand out, completing a traineeship may be a good option for you.
You can discover the benefits of traineeships in more detail and more information about them if you check out this article from Think Student.
5. Do an internship
Put simply, an internship is a period of time where individuals are able to gain valuable work experience. They can be seen as good alternatives to university if all you want is gain work experience! They all last different lengths of time and can take on many forms.
Some internships require individuals to just shadow professionals whilst they are at work, whilst other companies allow their interns to have responsibility over certain tasks in the workplace. You can discover more about what internships are in general if you check out this article from the Complete University Guide.
It is true that many internships are aimed at individuals who have already gained an undergraduate degree. However, there are also many that accept individuals at a range of different ages and stages in life.
Internships are valuable as they can allow individuals to gain specific work experience for relevant careers. However, it must be noted that not all internships are paid.
You can find out more about this and discover more information about internships in general if you check out this article from Think Student.
6. Take a gap year
After many years in education, you may just feel like you need a break from everything! You may not feel ready for university or a job, or may not even be sure about what you want to do in the future!
This is completely fine. You always have the option of taking a gap year to clear your head and do whatever you would like for a year.
This is technically not an alternative to university, as you will probably need to do something after your gap year. However, it was important to mention the gap year to let you know that having a break is a valid option.
Gap years can be as productive or unproductive as you like! If you want to start working but are unsure about what job would be best for you, you could use your gap year to experiment and get a couple of part time jobs.
You could even delve into a few part time courses to discover what you are really passionate about. You could also go travelling and experience a big portion of the world before you settle down.
If you want to discover some more gap year ideas or want to find out some tips relating to gap years, check out this article from UCAS. Alternatively, if you want to discover whether you should really take a gap year or not, check out this article from Think Student to help you with your decision.
7. Start a business
Some individuals may not want to go to university and they may not want to do any of the things already mentioned. In fact, some students may want to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses.
If you feel adventurous and think that you have a really good business idea, then there really is no harm in trying! As long as you are ambitious enough and put in the correct time and effort to help your business grow, then there is no reason why you wouldn’t be successful.
However, you must be aware that starting a business can be difficult. There will probably be setbacks and points where you may feel like you want to give up.
However, if you are really passionate about starting your own business and think that you really have what it takes, then go for it! If you aren’t really sure how to even start, the best thing to do is to start small.
Perhaps open a market stall whenever your town has a market day for example and get people to become familiar with your product. It’s probably best to do a lot of research before trying to start your own business, as there are many aspects which you have to think about.
If you want to discover some useful tips about starting your own business, check out this article from the Entrepreneur Handbook.
8. Do some volunteering
If you don’t fancy going to university but really don’t know what else you could be doing, consider becoming a volunteer! It is a great way of giving back to the community and helping those in need.
There are plenty of different volunteering opportunities available all around you! You could work in a charity shop and help sort out the stock and sell to customers.
Alternatively, you could work in a food bank and help those individuals who struggle to afford enough food to keep their families fed. You don’t always have to do things this big to volunteer though.
There are plenty of other smaller volunteer opportunities, such as gardening for a local care home, or just doing a bake sale every so often to raise money for a charity that you are passionate about. You can discover more volunteering opportunities if you check out this article from Indeed.
Volunteering is a fantastic experience for someone to have. Not only does it help to give back to the community and help those in need, it can also look really good to future employers when you tell them about your volunteering.
Volunteering is definitely seen as valuable to employers, as it shows that you take the time to help those who need it and you may have gained important skills needed in the workplace. If you want to discover whether you should volunteer or not, check out this article from Think Student to help you make your decision.
9. Take a school leaver programme
School leaver programmes are designed for individuals who feel a little bit lost after completing all of their education. They can help individuals to find their feet and get ready for the world of work.
These programmes can last between 12 months and five years depending on the type that you participate in. Benefits of school leaver programmes include gaining new skills, meeting a variety of new people and even just becoming more confident.
If you want to get into the world of work but need a bit of support in doing so, along with many others in the same position as you, this could be a great option! You can discover more about school leavers programmes if you check out this article from UCAS.
10. Gain an AAT Qualification
Not many people have heard of AAT qualifications. However, they are great routes to take to get a fantastic career if you are interested in accounting or related fields but don’t want to go to university.
AAT actually stands for a company name. This company is the ‘Association of Accounting Technicians’ and is a highly respected organisation, working in many countries and employing thousands of people.
You can find out more about the AAT organisation if you check out this page from the AAT website. If you are interested in getting into accounting but don’t really have that much experience, gaining an AAT qualification may be the best decision for you.
They are a type of vocational qualification that is highly respected. They are used to provide individuals with a solid foundation in a career of accounting, business or bookkeeping.
The AAT qualification provides individuals with useful skills and knowledge about the different industries, preparing them for the world of work. It is also highly valued by employers.
Thus, university is not always required for gaining well-paid jobs. After all, the AAT company is a highly respected organisation so if you achieve an AAT qualification, you will most likely get a job very easily.
You can discover what an AAT qualification actually is in more detail if you check out this article from Think Student.
Should you go to university?
After reading all of these alternatives to university, you hopefully now know that university is not the only option for you. After all, it is not compulsory for you to go to university, as shown in this article from Think Student. Never get pressured into spending three or more years of your life at university doing a degree that you never wanted to do!
Whether you should go to university or not is completely up to you. Now that you know all of the alternatives, hopefully you can now make a decision about your next steps in life!
Just remember to research each option thoroughly first and make sure that you decide which route to take. It is nobody else’s decision but your own. If you need some help deciding whether you should go to university or not, check out this article from Think Student.