Is university the only option?

Written by Debbie Herridge - Operations and Accounts Executive and former Apprentice for Professional Academy

There is a stigma around university. many like my mother, believe that the only way to achieve a good career path is by going to university and achieve a degree. So, you can imagine her concern when I told her I was no longer considering university. However, after sitting down and discussing this matter with her, she has realised that you do not need to go down the university route to be successful.

It’s that time of the year again! A-level results were released recently; and I hope you got the results you were aiming for. Now, after celebrating, it’s time to think about your step forward. If you are planning on going to university, you will be looking at different places and courses to find the ones that suits you best.

After evaluating all the educational routes I could have taken after school, I realised that there is no ‘one-option-fits-all’ solution. It really depends on how you learn best, what career path you aspire to, and if it’s something that you want to do. If you had asked me what I was going to do last year I would have said “I am going to finish my A-levels then move on to studying Economics and Finance at university” mainly because all my friends were going to University and it seemed like the only step forward. I even filled out my UCAS application and was going to open days! But after dropping college and enrolling on to an Apprenticeship I’ve never looked back. 

Now that’s not to say it will be the same for everyone, like I said it depends on you. I like to learn things practically as opposed to listening and taking notes… but if you are one of those people please get in touch and give me your tips and tricks of staying motivated for so long! There ARE other options out there, such as professional qualifications and Apprenticeships, which will allow you to learn and earn - you can kill two birds with one stone!

There are many benefits to going down the Apprenticeship or professional qualifications route:

  • No debt – which for someone like me, who would struggle to afford university, is a perfect solution. It means I can splash out on a fancy new handbag without feeling guilty about wasting any student grant!
  • Hands on experience – when people finish university they may be book smart, but if you take an Apprenticeship/professional qualification you will be more experienced in the field and this can work to your advantage when applying for a job.
  • Networking – when you work in the field of your choice you build up contacts. This can benefit you in the future.
  • Get to grips with working life –if you’re like me and have never had a full-time job before, it can be hard to adjust! So by getting used to it early on, it stops you from being thrown into the deep end after university.
  • Application – if you are working in your chosen career field whilst taking a professional qualification it allows you to more fully understand the qualification, and also you can instantly apply what you are learning to your job. It also helps with exams/assignments as you can relate it to the job you have rather than having to research a company.
  • Less stress –when studying professional qualifications you can work in your own time. There are always assessment windows, but if you miss them you can just defer to the next one. There's plenty of flexibility. But that's not to say it's ok to miss deadlines!
  • Same level of education – working your way through the qualifications to the highest level is equivalent to a university degree, which I don't think enough people are aware off. An employer will still be as impressed with your CV in comparison to someone with a degree and, as mentioned earlier, you will have experience as an advantage too.

If you're going into university half-heartedly, I would honestly suggest rethinking whether it's what you want to do, and research the other options out there, I know I made the right decision by doing so. I think a lot of people go to university for the experience and to say they have been, which is fair enough. But is it worth the experience for all the drawbacks?

If you are interested in Sales, Marketing and Management then you are in the right hands, Professional Academy will help you progress into further into your career! There are entry level qualifications available to you, to help you kick start your way into a career. If you're interested in Sales there is the ISM level 2 courses, or for Marketing there is the level 3 CIM courses and not forgetting for Management there are CMI level 3 courses. 

You may also want to find apprenticeship opportunities in your area for Marketing Assistant roles for example, to do so you can use the Institute for Apprenticeship website an pop your post code in the "Find an Apprenticeship" box.