next-steps
The last few months of your time at school can be confusing as there appears to be lots of decisions to be made. You will be thinking about whether you should carry onto higher education or enter the workforce; what should your next step be?

Higher Education

Staying in education, despite having to pay tuition fees, has continued to become the most attractive option for many people leaving school, no doubt this is influenced by the insecure and competitive job market.

While you can get a decent job without a degree it is increasingly difficult to progress to high positions in companies without one and the majority of companies are now looking for graduates at entry level, ideally with a minimum 2:1 degree.

Moving into higher education not only gives you those desirable qualifications but also teaches you other important skills. Communication and social skills are necessary when living with strangers and ensuring you hit essay deadlines will require self discipline.

Once you’ve worked out which universities and colleges you like the look of you can start the application process which will involve completing a University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) form. UCAS are responsible for organising and regulating the entry procedure for most courses in the UK.

There are over 30,000 different courses available for you to choose from and this can seem daunting. However, many jobs available to new graduates are open to people with a degree in any subject and therefore do pick a subject that you are interested in and think you will enjoy. Bear in mind that for certain careers (such as medicine and dentistry) it is very difficult to enter into without first gaining the appropriate degree.

Alternatives

Apprenticeships are a great way of obtaining qualifications and earning money at the same time as you can gain work based training. Advanced apprenticeships can be offered direct by employers or through organisations, known as training providers, who recruit on behalf of a number of employers.

Alternatively, you may want to take a ‘gap year’ before starting work or higher education. It is an opportunity to build on your skills (also learning new skills) and have fun while working out your next move. It is worth having a serious think about costs involved though and considering what you would like to gain from your year out; do you want to see the world or develop skills and experiences that will appeal to future employers?