A new academic year has started and I’m sure there are lots of you who have started applying to university, or perhaps you’re stumped on what to do next. Well hopefully this post can help you out in some way…
Okay so when I was 17/18 I was pretty adamant that I would go to university, and it was very much expected at my school that the majority of us would go. However, when A Level results day arrived 3 years ago it suddenly hit me that I was going to Swansea university. I couldn’t quite believe I got in to start with, but there was a part of me that just knew I wasn’t quite ready for this huge change in my life. Well if you’ve followed me for a while now, you’re aware that I’m now studying with the Open University. I took a year out to work, and the following year I signed up to the OU because I felt ready to earn myself a degree.
What I aim to provide in this post is an alternative to going to university. It isn’t for everyone, or sometimes you need to “live” a bit before committing yourself to three years or more of further studying.
University is a bigger step than some people tell you. I remember in school my tutor was discussing the tuition fees, and basically gave us the advice of getting a job where you won’t need to pay back the fees because you earn too little. Don’t take that advice! But you shouldn’t let the fees scare you away, you have a right just like anyone else to go to university.
University is a brilliant opportunity to not only gain a degree where you’ll hopefully get an amazing job at the end, but it’s a life experience too. I can’t share too much on this as I study from home, but from seeing my friends at university they have become independent and prepared for the adult world.
Having said this, don’t automatically assume that just because you’re getting a degree means you’ll immediately get the job you want. It doesn’t at all. Like anything you need to work your butt off, and that’s where having a part-time job while studying is advised to getting that work experience. There’s no good throwing your degree on the table with no evidence that you can work with others, a degree is not a fast pass but it’s damn good to have on your CV these days.
By the way I’m not trying to put you off university, but merely giving you a balanced view.
I’ve noticed since leaving school that apprenticeships are becoming a lot more of a popular choice for teenagers these days. You earn while you learn, simple as that. You don’t earn much but you’re immediately on that work ladder where you can work your way up into a better role to earn more money and learn more skills.
In many ways they appeal to me because you’re not having to do a degree before going into the job, you’re learning a qualification as you’re dong it. And in some sense you’re a step ahead of those at university because you’re in the work place immediately, and not just working on assignments.
I don’t know enough about apprenticeships, but they seem the best option for those who want to be plumbers, electricians, builders, vet nursing and SO many other professions. So it’s worth a look!
If like me you’re not certain as to what you want to do next then perhaps a gap year is for you.
There are a few misconceptions of a “gap year” though. When you hear of a gap year you think of backpacking around the world, and hey if you can afford it then this is the time to do it!
However if you’re like me and couldn’t afford to go travelling then you’ll want to find yourself a job. That way you’re putting money aside to do other things, for example money for driving lessons. There are so many things you can achieve in a year and making the most of it is what I would advise. Even volunteering in a charity shop is useful because it looks great on your CV. I pretty much just worked, went to gigs and enjoyed myself in a way that suited me but I missed studying and so looking into the Open University was an option.
Having a year out can really give you a lot of thinking time of what you want to do in life, and this could lead to deciding to try out university or looking up an apprenticeship you fancy doing or even going full time at the place you’re working or applying somewhere else.
Full Time Work
Unless you know exactly what you want to do for a job, I wouldn’t suggest this option. The money would be great, but perhaps doing part-time would be best first. You never know if you’ll like the job, get on with the people you work with etc. So keep that in mind before jumping in the deep end.
What appealed to me about going full time was the money, but at the same time I realised I wouldn’t have time to do all the things I enjoy doing. Silly perhaps? I’ve managed though.
I admire anyone who knows what they want to do and manage to find a full time position straight out of school, that’s brilliant and well done to them. The money can be good, the experience is valuable and the contacts you make will help you further your career too.
So if you’re eager to earn the lovely money, then good on ya’!
Whatever you decide to do make sure that the decision is your own, because allowing someone else to influence you isn’t necessarily what you want to do for you. Forget about impressing overs and making them happy, you are the one at the end of the day who has to live your life and if you’re not happy then that’s no good. Put yourself first, and if things don’t work out its not the end of the world. You have plenty of options to choose from and you don’t have to stick to one if you have a change of heart. You’re not going to fail, making mistakes is natural and a learning curve so embrace everything you do and take the good out of the bad and learn from the bad in the good.
Be brave and most importantly, be happy!