by Alice Cresswell-Hogg | 20 June 2016
This time two years ago I was studying for my A Levels as well as trying to juggle a part-time job whilst attempting to have a social life. At the age of eighteen a lot is going on in a person’s life and one of the most important decisions an eighteen year old has to make is whether or not to attend university.
So what did I do? Even though I had no idea what course I wanted to study, the pressure of college and peers and lack of knowledge of alternative offers meant that I ended up applying for university anyway.
After being accepted onto the course of my choice at all the universities I had applied to, I just could not seem to get excited about university. I wasn’t sure what made me do it, but I made the decision to reject all my offer.
After an intense exams period and the anxious time of waiting for my results, I decided to explore what the next step I should take. And it was during this time that I decided to undertake and apprenticeship.
So why did I chose an apprenticeship? The answer was easy - I wanted the opportunity to learn but gain practical work experience. In 2013 alone there were 12 million graduates all of whom were applying for the same roles (that's a lot of applicants per job!)
In a recent survey by the BBC, employers in England rated apprentices 15 per cent more employable than those with other qualifications. The difference between an individual with a degree and an individual who has completed an apprenticeship, is that graduates often have little relevant work experience within the career path that they want to pursue. However, apprentices have the qualification to prove that they are capable, but also the experience to back up their theoretical knowledge.
It seemed like the right path to choose for someone who was not too sure what they wanted to do, and offer other opportunities that university may not have provided. Looking back I could not be happier with my choice. I am working for an excellent company and on clear career path, whilst I have friends who have attained a large student debt and no guaranteed job at the end.
However I’m not against going to university. University is an excellent opportunity for people to gain new experiences, and if I had one particular subject I was passionate enough about to study for three years there is no doubt that I would probably be sat in a lecture right now and not in our Liverpool office.
In schools and colleges there does seem to be a pressure to go to university and from a personal experience there is not significant guidance on other opportunities. So what are other alternatives to attending university?
- Apprenticeships – An increasing number of businesses are starting to see the benefits of recruiting apprentices. Apprenticeship are an excellent way to gain a qualification, whilst also undertaking some ‘hands-on’ work experience.
- Gap Year – If you are unsure of what you want to do, gap years are a great way to gain some work experience, travel the world and discover what career path you really want to take.
- Entrepreneurship – It is not for everyone and it’s certainly for the brave but there are many success stories of school leavers starting businesses and with little to risk, there really is no better time.
- Work your way up – If you know an industry you would like to get into, take an entry level role such as office junior and work your way up. By the time your friends would have finished their degree you would be well on your way to your goal and they would be starting where you first started.
So if you're not sure what you want to do remember you have time on your side. You can always go to university at a later date, it should not be a now or never decision.
Looking for further guidance on apprenticeships? Check out latest articles featuring advice for school leavers and graduates.