Should I go to university or get a job?
Got the potential to go to university? Predicted to do well in your A levels, Highers or International Baccalaureate? Heading off to do a full-time degree isn’t the only good option open to you.
Options if you want to start work at 18
There are a number of programmes run by employers that allow you to earn and learn at the same time, gaining qualifications at a higher level than those you already have. You might study towards an HNC, HND, foundation degree or even a full degree, as well as potentially taking vocational qualifications. It’s possible to get into careers that are often associated with graduates, such as IT, engineering, science and finance, among others.
- Take a look at our advice on different career areas and routes into them as a graduate or school leaver
Opportunities might be labelled as higher apprenticeships, school leaver programmes or sponsored degree programmes.
- What are school leaver programmes, apprenticeships and sponsored degrees?
- Take a look at employers on TARGETcareers with school leaver opportunities
Of course, there are also training opportunities open that only require GCSEs, such as lower levels of apprenticeship, though we don’t cover these here.
Deciding between work and university
To help you decide between work and university, you might like to think about the following:
- the financial implications of going to university v. starting work – both short term and long term
- how ready you are to choose your career direction now
- whether there are aspects of going to university that you don’t want to miss out on
Do your own research
If you’re considering school leaver programmes, you’ll probably need to do a lot of your own research: schools and colleges are typically more geared towards advising A level/Highers students on university applications than on the alternatives. However, there are plenty of resources here at TARGETcareers to help you.
You might also find that your teachers or parents hold the view that going to university is always the best option. If you decide that that’s not the case for you, you might need to explain your decision clearly.
Motivation is key
You might conclude after you’ve done your research that objectively there’s not much difference between the merits of the two routes – or that without a crystal ball you can’t really tell which would be best for you. If that’s the case, focus instead on whether one route appeals to you more than the other.
Motivation is very important in achieving success, whether at university or in the workplace. If you’ve investigated both options and one is shouting out to you, don’t ignore that feeling. Either will require you to work hard, seize opportunities and, from time to time, tackle tasks you’d prefer not to have to do. You’re more likely to do so and give of your best if you enjoy what you’re doing for its own sake rather than seeing it as a means to an end.