2020 has been one of the strangest years that most of us have ever experienced. It has been a constant reminder of the uncertainty and risk that we live with every day. With plans falling through, and forever changing information about student’s big exams, deciding what to do after A-Levels has become especially tough. Before you make any decisions about your next step to University – ask yourself some of these questions.
What is your end goal?
I understand that a lot of people do not have an answer to this question, and that is because it is not a one-way road. There are several factors that will be taken into consideration. However, ask yourself, if you go to University what would you like to do when you finish? Even a broad idea of what sector could help you distinguish between different pathways. Although, if you are unsure about what job you may enjoy then University can help open doors for you. It gives you a chance to explore new subjects that you find interesting, allowing you to refine your ideas on what kind of life you want to lead after education. Finding your motivation can be used as a defining starting point.
What are your other options?
Being at Sixth Form, the buzz of University life becomes a main focus for the school. With the pressure of personal statements and UCAS deadlines, it’s normal to get wrapped up in it, even if you’re not sure it’s for you. There are so many other options for you to consider!
- Higher and Degree Level Apprenticeships
- Taking a Gap Year
- Getting a Job
A higher degree-level apprenticeship is a brilliant way of gaining different qualifications. Normally, you will work as you would at a normal job, but you may attend a local University a few times a week. A lot of ‘practical’ learners take the route of an apprenticeship as it allows them to learn on the job. An apprentice also earns a wage, so this appeals to a lot of people who worry about the debt you are left with at University. Furthermore, in some cases your employer (or company) will even offer to pay for the University side of the course.
Taking a Gap Year is probably a more appealing idea than ever at the moment. Many students use this extra time to try things they never have before. Travel, new hobbies, or simply building up some money for the future is just a few reasons to defer a year and focus on yourself.
If you’re someone who likes the idea of working a full-time job and earning a wage, then this could be the option for you, especially for those people who know what job they want to go into. Starting a full-time job early on also gives you the time to progress.
Do you need a degree?
Some say yes, and some say no. In a world where more and more students are branching out into skilled apprenticeships, employers are beginning to recognise that the skill of working a professional job can be just as valuable as a 3 year course. However, with this being said, the answer to if you need a degree does depend on the nature of the job you wish to go into. For example, if you want to be a Doctor – then you will probably have to spend some time at University.
How much will it cost for you to go to University?
If we are speaking realistically, the cost of University is not cheap. However, this should not be a factor that holds you back. Yes, it is expensive but if this degree is going to get you where you want to be by the end of it then isn’t that something worth investing in? Not only this, with the support of a loan for both your course and living expenses, life after University won’t leave you with a payment that you can’t handle.
However, it is important to look at your financial goals. For example, you may want to do some research on the kind of money a person makes in the sector you want to go into. A lower-paying job may urge you to reconsider the University pathway. By trying to grasp an idea of what kind of position you will be in after University, you can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of your student loan repayment. Lastly, it is important to consider what is going on at the moment. Has COVID-19 impacted your course, will it be mainly online? Are you happy to pay your tuition fee when the teaching is so adapted?
What is the right path for you?
There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to take your next step. It is okay to go to University and study a degree that you enjoy. It is okay to take a year out, you never know, it may help you discover something new about yourself. It is okay to go into an apprenticeship and work in an environment that is new and exciting and it is okay to go straight into a job and begin your journey as an independent worker. As long as you enjoy what you do and aim high in whatever you end up in, you are successful.
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