In Year 13, the words you hear most often are probably “So, what’re you doing after you leave school?”. And after countless assemblies about how important UCAS applications are, and going to university is, there’s so much pressure to answer with “I’m going to go to (blank) University and study (blank).”. Often people forget that there are other options and going to university isn’t the be-all and end-all of further education.
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do after I finished A-Levels. I always dreaded teachers asking me about going to open days, and personal statements, and UCAS applications. My friends had all applied for university, so they assumed that I would too. But I didn’t feel like going to university would be the right choice for me. Yet at the same time, I didn’t know what else I could do if I didn’t go to university. I felt like it was either go to university, or leave school and get a job. The idea of getting a job straight out of school was daunting, especially with next-to-no real work experience (like a lot of people straight out of school). That was until someone suggested I look into apprenticeships.
What is an apprenticeship? I’d heard about apprenticeships, but hadn’t put a lot of thought into them. I’d always thought that they were for more hands-on vocations (like plumbers, or engineers, or hairdressers). But when I actually did some research, I found that you can do an apprenticeship in practically anything! I was honestly surprised by how many different apprenticeship opportunities that there were. And the best part? They bridge the gap between education and having a “proper” job by combining a practical work place environment with classroom-based learning. That means that although you’re working and getting paid, you’re still in education and being supported by a tutor so it isn’t as scary as jumping straight into full-time employment might otherwise be.
I’ve been doing my apprenticeship (in social media and digital marketing) for about three months now, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m learning a lot from the coursework we do, but also from doing practical work in the office. It’s so much easier to learn new skills by actually putting them into practice rather than just being taught about them. People often ask me if I regret not going to university, but honestly I think getting an apprenticeship was the right option for me. In fact, a lot of my friends (who did choose to go to university) wish they could be getting the same work experience that I am. So if you’re still asking “Should I go to university?”, why not consider doing an apprenticeship?