Your Future, Your Choice - What's next after A Levels?

SUN (Southern Universities Network) has put together this fabulous quick guide to what's next after A-levels...

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'cue panic, palpitations and sweaty palms...'

Most of us have been there, and the truth is, it’s not that bad. With some preparation you’ll be able to make an informed decision that’s right for you and feel much more confident about this ‘adulting’ business!

Choosing which Higher Education route to take is an important decision, so we hope our short options guide will help point you in the direction that you want to go.

UNIVERSITY

University is a great option for students who are passionate about a certain subject and want to learn more about it. Attending university doesn’t mean you’ll be sat in a library for three years – lots of courses offer practical approaches too. You could help to make new discoveries to help combat climate change, go on archaeological digs in faraway countries or work in a hospital, learning how to save people’s lives.

Gain independence
Living away from home and taking responsibility for your learning, money and personal time is a fantastic way to gain your independence. No-one is judging you for taking your dirty laundry home to be washed from time to time, but simple tasks such as cooking, cleaning and managing a budget can be great life lessons. (Prepare to ace the art of cooking pasta!)

Meet people with similar interests
University is a perfect place to meet lifelong friends. Not only can you meet people in halls, but also in lectures, seminars, societies and sports clubs as well. Whether you’re the life of the party or prefer some peace and quiet, there will be plenty of people in the same boat as you. 

Societies, sports and social life
Did you know that a lot of universities in the UK set aside Wednesday afternoons for students to give them opportunity to take part in societies and sports groups? There are loads of weird and wonderful societies to take part in, from belly-dancing to bee-keeping, cake decorating to Quidditch! There are also a wealth of sports clubs to join as well, so whether you want to continue playing rugby or try something completely new (ultimate frisbee, anyone?) it’s likely there is something for you.

APPRENTICESHIPS

If you want the chance to combine practical, on-the-job training and have an income at the same time then an apprenticeship might be the right choice for you. They are open to anyone living in England over the age of 16, with entry requirements varying depending on the type of job you’re applying for. Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels - you could earn the equivalent of a GCSE qualification, right up to a bachelor’s / master’s degree!

Hands-on learning
Lectures, seminars and classrooms aren’t for everyone, and a lot of people achieve their ‘learning’ from the ‘doing’. For some, it would be easier to learn how to build a jet engine with their hands rather than learning at a computer. If that sounds like you, then you’ll ‘jump’ at the chance to study as an apprentice. (Pun absolutely intended).

Gain experience
One of the greatest benefits of studying an apprenticeship is that you’ll gain on-the-job experience. This means that when you’ve finally got your qualification in your hand, you’ll also have great experience under your belt too which is what most employers are looking for. You’ll also be familiar with the work environment, time management and organisational skills so you should be prepared for any roles that come your way.

Money and study
No tuition debt! During your time as an apprentice, your practical training and your pay are provided by your employer, (cha-ching!) whilst your studies are overseen by a college, training organisation or university. Apprenticeships can take one to five years to complete depending on level, and the training that’s part of your apprenticeship is usually one day per week.

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SIMILARITIES BETWEEN UNIVERSITY AND APPRENTICESHIPS

-       Both routes require prior research in order for you to pick the right course or job for you.

-       Applications can be competitive. Schedule some time to research how to make the most of your application to give yourself the best chance.

-       You’ll need to meet minimum entry requirements. Find out what they are to see what’s available for you.

-       Plenty of courses are taught at colleges, and specialist course providers such as conservatoires, business schools and agricultural colleges

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NEXT STEPS

University
If you think university could be for you, visit www.ucas.com to find out more about what’s available and how to apply.

Apprenticeship
If you can see yourself as an apprentice, register at www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship to research what’s available and search for jobs. 

Undecided?
Visit www.sunoutreach.org for more information