Have you ever sat in a restaurant staring at the menu, unable to decide what to have? Or perhaps you have been out shopping and struggled to decide which top you wanted to buy? If so, there is every chance that the thought of having to decide what to do after you leave sixth form has got you having kittens. How are you supposed to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life when you sometimes find it hard to decide what shoes you are going to wear that day? How do you know if a university degree is better than an apprenticeship – especially with all the work that is being done to improve and increase the options for apprentices? Then there is the matter of university debt… but what about the chance that you might need a degree to get a particular job?
With so many questions it can be hard to know what to do. Fortunately, there is help out there – starting right here.
When you are making a choice it is important to know what you are letting yourself in for. Reading that menu to see what is in each dish, or checking the quality of the clothes you have picked up is all about being able to make an informed choice – and the same goes for your options after sixth form.
Apprenticeships, in particular have been the subject of a lot of misinformation, with people believing that taking an apprenticeship means you can’t go to university later, or that they are only designed for those who want to go into traditional, manual trades.
Apprentices can go on to university and study for higher level qualifications, and they are not just for those who aren’t ‘clever enough’ to go to university. Some apprenticeships are highly desirable – and only the best candidates will make it through to be selected.
An apprenticeship needn’t be seen as any better or worse than university – it is just different.
While some careers will require you to go to university, a great many are now accessible via an apprenticeship. In fact, many employers prefer apprentices to graduates, since they are after bright young workers who can be trained on-the-job to do a specific role. This also generally means a better chance of getting a relevant job once you have qualified.
An apprenticeship is great if you have a fair idea of what career you would like to get into, and you can see what apprenticeships are available in your area right now to get an idea.
On the other side of things is university. This route may not train you for a specific career, but could allow you to keep your options open for three more years. While there is also the attraction of the lauded ‘university lifestyle’ there is a pay-back – quite literally in this case!
Tuition fees are a serious consideration for many, despite the current loan system. Leaving university with thousands of pounds of debt is now the norm, although getting a ‘graduate level’ job to pay back that money is not as easy as you might expect. With more people graduating each year supply of students is out-stripping the demand for them from employers, leaving many graduates forced to take lower-level jobs which they may not have needed a degree for in the first place!
While university students pay for their tuition, apprentices are actually paid for their work – with their training all being paid for too!
All of these things need to be considered when deciding what is best for you – even if they don’t make your choices much easier. Of course, if you have any questions about your future options you can check in at our ‘Advice Centre’ for an answer.
Try to talk to people who have done apprenticeships and those who have been to university and find out about the work and lifestyle of each. Ultimately, when you have completed your degree or apprenticeship it will be time to find a job, so it might also be worth thinking about what is your motivation to work? Is it money, a particular career, or something else?
Keep your options open, write a list of pros and cons, and speak with those around you, but remember it is your choice – so let your gut feeling help you too (just like with that menu).