During your A Levels (and often even before that) university can seem like a distant, far away dream, full of nights out, cheap alcohol and a bit of studying on the side. It seems unrealistic – but inevitable at the same time.
For many of us, university is the obvious next step. After spending 12 years studying studying, simply carrying on seems natural and the prospect of narrowing it down to something you’re really interested in feels like an opportunity that’s too good to miss.
But, for some, university will not be the right choice. Whether you choose not to go, or results dictate that choice, there are a lot of other paths that you can follow which can leave you equally, if not more, successful.
Do you actually want to apply to university?
It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t feel forced to go to university. It’s an expensive mistake to make and could potentially make things far more difficult in the long run. It’s better to (like the adverts suggest) ‘just say no’ and search for something different instead. If you’d rather jump straight into a career, it’s worth talking to someone at your Sixth form or college about your interests and experiences.
Careers staff are there to help you whatever your choice is, so stick to your guns and come prepared with ideas and a bit of background knowledge. It’s far easier to progress with the help of your sixth form or college – they may already have contacts in the area you’re looking to work in, and if not, they can likely suggest some tips regardless. It might be worthwhile arranging a meeting even if you are planning on going to university.
What happens if your university plan falls through?
If you choose university but your grades don’t agree, it’s important to have a back up option too. For most people who don’t get in first time round, re-taking exams is the answer. Often, this is down to personal circumstances or not being as motivated as your parents had hoped, so another year at college might be the solution. This means you can re-write your personal statement, reconsider your university choices and spend a year checking out your friends’ campuses before you reach a decision.
If your course is especially difficult to get onto, it’s worth looking into work experience or voluntary placements throughout your year if you’re reapplying, to give you that edge on other applicants. A year out if Plan A doesn’t happen can become a huge benefit to your university life, in terms of gaining skills and knowledge, as well as refining your choices.
It’s never a bad idea to make a back-up plan, whatever your next step might be after results day, to prepare yourself as much as you can for the future.
What was your university back-up plan? Tell us below.
Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography / Flickr