Jobhop Jobhop's blog : What If I Don't Want to Go to University?

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There are many reasons why people decide they don't want to go to university.

Not only are university courses hella expensive, time-consuming and demanding, but graduates often find themselves with no guarantee of a job at the end of all their hard work.

While universities are still a popular option, many people find themselves wondering what to do instead of university. If you find yourself in this position, there are still many advantages to choosing an alternative study option to university...

You can earn money immediately 

One of the biggest downfalls with most higher education study options, particularly university, is the fact that they leave you with  very little time to earn money. And in order to live, save and do anything of leisure, you need to be earning some sort of income. By selecting an alternative study option to university, you're given the flexibility to make money as often or as little as you like. This is good for someone who is hoping to travel, or just isn't sure of what their next career step will be.

Employers prefer experience

Many university graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find employment after their degree. The truth is, when hiring, employers prefer candidates with the relevant hands-on experience in their chosen field. This experience should go hand in hand with a general knowledge of the subject, which is why apprenticeships and internships are now a popular choice among students to get the necessary skills employers seem to value the most.

You have the chance to make it on your own

Nowadays, starting up a business could not be easier. There are plenty of resources out there that makes giving it a go on your own that much easier. People often feel as if going to university is the only option when they finish their A-Levels, however using this time to discover your talents may be the key to a bigger idea that could be hiding inside you.

While the idea of starting your own business may seem overwhelming, it's wrong to believe that you've got to work for someone else for the rest of your life. Getting hands-on experience is the most valuable type of skill you can have, so proving your initiative in a personal venture will prove your willingness in a number of other ways. Plus, it gives you the chance to make mistakes early on and learn from them.

You will learn how to budget

Alongside earning money are the skills that come with managing your own finances. Learning how to budget is a skill that not many people have mastered, despite it being an extremely important life skill to have. Learning how to save money early on will introduce good habits for the future - who knows, it would lead to a skill that will make you employable in the future.

You can see the world

As most university students will tell you, studying takes a lot of time, money and energy - all of which are resources that some feel could be better spent. There are many options for travelling and seeing the world. A lot of people opt for volunteer programs, gap years or working holidays to experience life out of their comfort zone. Travelling can also introduce a network of life skills and friends that are able to familiarise you with new experiences, religions, cultures and many other advantages. You may be forced out of your comfort zone and into hard situations, giving you the opportunity to think on your feet and learn faster than usual.

Deciding what to do after A-Levels can be a particularly tough decision to make, so below is a guide we've put together to help you find your way...

First off, accept that there are going to be lots of unknowns. Without a crystal ball you can't tell how your life is going to turn out if you go to university or if you decide on a different route, but you can find out the facts and consider some alternatives.

What is your end goal?

Perhaps this point is a bit obvious, but if you go to university what would you like to do when you finish? Understanding your end goal will help you to explore other options and work out if university is the best route for you. 

Knowing what you want isn't essential - some people choose university as a next step because they don't have any careers in mind but they really enjoy a particular subject and want to see where it might take them.

Whichever route you choose, being clear about your motivation will get you the most out of your experience. 

What are the alternatives?

If you don't go to university, what else could you do?

Some options include:

Become an apprentice

Apprenticeships are now offered over a huge variety of industries. They give you the opportunity to learn and gain a qualification without having to do so in a restrictive classroom environment. You also get paid for the work you do, so there will be no having to make the last £3 off your student load feed you for a month!

Apprenticeships are growing in popularity as an after-school choice, but there are still many myths that hold them back in the public eye. These include the idea that apprenticeships are badly paid, and that they’re made for people who couldn’t get into university.

Depending on the industry, an apprenticeship can offer a more direct route into a career as opposed to a degree. Not only will you have your foot in the door in a business, but you’re able to familiarise yourself with the tasks and responsibilities of the role, applying your knowledge while in the workplace, and picking up a range of important knowledge by completing your qualification. 

Go on a traineeship

If you feel you’re not quite ready for an apprenticeship, a traineeship acts as a stepping stone between school and becoming an apprentice. It’s basically a training programme with work experience that prepares you for your future career by helping them to become ‘work ready’.

A traineeship can last up to six months and will be tailored to your needs so that you get the most out of it that you can. Plus, the cost of your training will be covered by the government so you won’t be out of pocket.

Employers aren’t required to pay you while you’re on the scheme but some companies might be willing to help you with food or travel expenses. The skills and experience you gain in a traineeship really do outweigh the downside of it being unpaid. You might even be given the change to have a paid position with the company if one is available at the end of your traineeship.

Take a gap year

These days, gap years aren’t exclusive to those taking time out before university. You can go on a gap year at any stage in your life. It doesn’t matter whether you have just left school or just left a job you don’t like, a gap year gives you space and time to figure out what you want from life.

You can do anything you want with your time and the possibilities are endless. You could travel to a place and find work, or you could move around from country to country working as you go. You may not want to work at all but just follow wherever the adventure takes you. The world is really your oyster.

Teach English abroad

If getting to paid to see the world appeals to you, why not teach English as a foreign language? Due to visa requirements, some countries may require you to have a degree before you’re able to teach there, but there are plenty of countries where this is not an issue.

IF you fancy the sound of Europe, Spain has an ever increasing demand for English teachers. Or if South America is more you then you're able to teach in Brazil, Mexico Argentina and several other countries without a degree. And if you fancy working in ht East, it’s possible to teach in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand without a degree!

Its worthwhile getting a proper TEFL certification from an accredited program as this will allow you to get a good job without holding a degree. It will also ensure you have all the proper skills and knowledge to be a teacher!

Start your own business

You don’t need a degree to work for yourself so if you’ve got a great business idea, why not start now? It might sound scary and it will require a lot of hard work but there is a lot of help and support out there.

Funding and grants are available for young entrepreneurs and are actively encouraged to help more young people make their fresh ideas a reality. The Prince's Trust Enterprise programme offers to help 18-30-year-old budding entrepreneurs. If this isn’t applicable to you, you may be eligible for a government-backed start up loan.

It might be risky but you might come to regret putting it off until later in your career. Early on in your professional life is the best time to take risks. So if you have a great idea, don’t let fear hold your back, take the risk and see what you can achieve!

Follow your passion

Are you lucky enough to already know what your passion is? Great! You’re already ahead of most people. The best advice to follow is to continue doing what you love and turn it into a career. Whether that’s cooking, photography, makeup or fashion, why not take the time to follow these passions and see where it leads? Video your experiences and write blog posts about it. Even if you’re still not sure what direction to take, being proactive can open many doors to other great things. Who knows, you might become the next huge Instagram influencer or YouTube star while you're at it!

Do you need a degree?

Sometimes, employers simply want to know what you have a degree but don’t’ have an interest in what it is you’ve studied. For certain careers, a degree isn’t really necessary and they consider work experience to be more important. Whereas other careers, such as medicine, a degree in a set subject is essential.

If you have a specific career idea in mind, they might be different ways you can qualify for it. For example, did you know you can become a lawyer without going to university? Although alternative routes are not always considered a direct equal to a degree – they may only allow you to progress to a certain level in your career – so be sure to check out any limitations this may include.

How much will it cost?

Fees ant talk of future debts and earnings can soon begin to seem like Monopoly money, and without an idea about your future expenses and living costs, are not always partially manful. That said, it is good to find out exactly what going to university is likely to cost, what help you’re able to receive and what student loans mean. Explore different scenarios – what would student loan repayments look like if you went on to a low-paid, average, or well-paid job? You may not know what you’ll end up doing but at least you’ll be making an intelligent decision.

Additional benefits

As with many aspects of life, the biggest advantages of any chosen path are usually the unexpected ones. In the long term, people who are reflecting on the university days often find the wider benefits, like making connections, developing confidence, or involvement with clubs and societies, more important than their actual course. No one would suggest going to uni just because you’re likely to make some good friends – but what you end up valuing the most at the end of it may have very little to do with your course.

Could you do things differently?

Going to university doesn’t have to mean you’ve got to follow the standard route of moving to a new city and becoming a full-time student – there are different and more flexible ways to get a degree which may suit you far better. You could:

- Do a part time degree that you can combine with work or other commitments

- Do a sponsored degree – certain employers will pay for you to do your degree but you may need to work for the first and/or for a certain period after you graduate.

- Study at your local university and live at home.

What's right for you?

It's so easy to fall into doing the same thing as your friends or what your parents expect you to do so it's important to consider if your next step is right for YOU.

I would say to people not to rush when deciding what to do with their future - if you need to take a year to figure out your next step, don't feel pressured to not do that. And don't go to university just because other people expect you to.

Ultimately, decide what makes you happy and go from there. 

JOIN Jobhop and spread the word. 

Kyria Bush 

  • Career
On: 2017-07-24 15:56:18.455