As an A-level student it can feel impossible that you are supposed to decide in what direction you are going to take your life or career. You might be hearing loads on the many advantages of going to university and getting that sought after degree, but there are many things you need to consider before making a decision - because it ultimately is your decision.
Money, money, money
A huge consideration is debt. Because the way things are at the moment, the average student can expect £35,000-£40,000 in loans and tuition fees that they will have to deal with after they have finished their studies. For students in London the debt will be even higher due to living costs.
One positive aspect is that your repayment plan will be based on how much you earn and not the amount you have borrowed. You will only start repaying your loan when you are earning more than £21,000 per year, and you never have to pay anything back during a year where you are either earning less than that or not working at all.
In 30 years’ time, if you still have not paid back your loan, it will be written off no matter how much of it is left.
On the other hand, an apprenticeship scheme will allow you to work towards a qualification while earning a wage. While this salary may not be huge (usually right around minimum wage) it does allow you to learn a profession, potentially get full-time employment, and nab a qualification without any debt whatsoever.
What is your career path?
Apprenticeship scheme opportunities are popping up in more and more industries and for more and more professions - maybe university is unnecessary for you? Now, if your dream career is being a veterinarian or perhaps a dentist then yes, you are going to need to go to university and get qualified this way.
However if money is your motivation, and do not be ashamed if it is, then you shouldn’t assume that you need a degree to get it! If you know that university isn’t for you there are loads of apprenticeship schemes that will give you a great start and the opportunity to work your way up - maybe even to the top.
The main questions to ask yourself are: What is your dream job? Do you need to go to university? If you don’t need to, why would you?
If you have given it a thought and you still don’t know if university is for you, don’t feel pressured into it. It is not now or never - university will always be available should you decide that it is a path you want to take.
In the meantime you could take courses, travel, go on a gap year, or get an entry-level job. Take a break from the expectations you and other people may have and get to know yourself properly. During this time it is very possible that you will discover your passion and know exactly where you want to go.
For more career advice, along with 100s of apprenticeships and school leaver schemes, visit Milkround School Leavers.