GCSE Results Day: Alternatives To University - What Are Your Options?

Alternatives To University: What Are Your Options?
Alternatives To University: What Are Your Options?

More than half of young people have never been told about the alternatives to university, meaning many are making uniformed choices about their future.

Nearly 2,000 students were questioned, with 61% saying they had "never" been informed about other routes, such as apprenticeships, distance learning and on the job training.

Not everyone is convinced university is the right option for them, and if you're still having trouble deciding, then you've come to the right place.

Yes, university may be a fantastic experience which readies you for a career, but you will also be facing a lottery ticket to potential employment and thousands of pounds of debt, according to the director of career advice site Not Going To Uni.

Spencer Mehlman, whose company conducted the research, answered those all-important questions about going to university - and what the alternatives are.

Is it necessary to go to university if I want to earn a lot of money?

Not at all. The figures vary with regard to earnings, but the commonly quoted ones are that, on average, you'll earn £150,000 more over the duration of your career if you get a degree. Don't forget though that these days you might need to spend over £50,000 to get that degree in the first place.

Other forms of learning, such as an apprenticeship, earn you on average over £100,000 more over the course of your career, so it's in the balance. Then you can factor in that you don't actually need to go to university to get a degree - you could work in your chosen field and do professional qualifications and end up with a Masters level qualification and no debt at all.

If I don’t go to university, what are my other options?

University isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t want to go due to the debt involved, even if they did get the grades. Other options, in brief, are: take a gap year, do an apprenticeship, study for other qualifications (often at a local college, or with an employer), do distance learning, do a higher education qualification at a college rather than a university or go straight to work.

If any of those options aren't familiar to you then you should take a look at the Not Going To Uni Results Day Survival Guide and see how they'd fit your circumstances.

Will employers not consider me for job roles if I don’t have a degree?

There are increasingly fewer jobs where a degree is considered essential. For instance, you don't need to go to uni to become a lawyer, an accountant or an engineer these days.

And the truth is that all employers want excited, energetic young people who are passionate about working for them. There are a range of ways to communicate that to an employer which don't involve degrees.

I don’t get given enough information from my school or college about career options. Where else can I look for this information?

Schools have a real bias towards university which seems to completely misunderstand that young people are being lumbered with tens of thousands of pounds of debt that they might not need as a result.

We think that's nothing short of a scandal and we've committed to providing free and comprehensive information and advice to young people about the full range of their options after leaving school at

Will I be financially better off if I don’t go to university?

You'll certainly avoid building up some fairly serious debts, which are real and will follow you throughout your working life. If you can find a path that could result in you getting into your dream job without going to university, you'd be mad not to at least consider it.

Will I miss out on meeting new people and a great social life if I don’t go to uni?

Not at all, the majority of young people don't go to university (51%) and you'd be wrong if you thought that those young people don't also like to socialise, go out and enjoy themselves.

University comes with a ready-made social life, which some people like, but don't feel like you'll miss out if you choose to start work, go to college or go on a gap year. You’ll still meet people and have a good social life in these circumstances too.

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