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Your Future Career 2020

Is uni or a degree apprenticeship right for me?

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Angela Winter


Wondering where your future might be after school or college? You’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of students each year navigate the different options available and work out the right one for them.

You might already have the key to unlock your decision . Each year we see students go straight from school to university – whether or not they have a clear view of where they want to end up. For some, it’s the bright lights of a different city or town, or the experience of being a student. For others, it’s driven by a passion for a subject, or even an expectation from others that university or college is the right next step. But, with more alternatives to study now widely available, perhaps it’s not always the best option.

Last year, 40% of university applicants told us they also applied for a degree apprenticeship alongside their degree – an increase on previous years. This suggests a new generation of students like the idea of an alternative to full-time study.

Keeping your options open is perfectly OK

While university applications tend to follow a well-known timetable – apply by January, wait to hear back from universities, get results, accept place, start university in the autumn – applications for a job do not.

Vacancies for degree apprenticeships can come up at any time. Just like any other job vacancy, employers can identify a need for a role and then advertise and recruit. Because it is a job, it’s perfect for those who know what they want to do after school or college. Those who can clearly see themselves as an engineer, a lawyer, a business manager, or as a designer or architect.
Comparing the two is a bit like comparing apples and pears – they’re both great for you, but the experience will be totally different. So, rather than be daunted by that, use it to inform your choice.

What suits you best?

With full-time university or college, you’ll get the whole experience of being a student and all that comes with it. You’ll ultimately have more flexibility with where your studying takes you. But a degree apprenticeship will potentially get you from A to B quicker – you’ll be working and studying at the same time (which will need commitment and organisation), you’ll get hands-on experience, and you’ll have more cash in your pocket. So, using your knowledge of you, which would you thrive on?

Speak to the right people and do your research

We’ve got plenty of information on ucas.com to help you work out which would suit you best. This including Career Finder – a job search and alerts service. Use the National Apprenticeship Service’s resources, and visit UCAS exhibitions to speak to employers, universities and colleges, as well as students and apprentices – so you can hear first-hand what the expectations and the reality are actually like.

Neither is an easy option. Socially, financially, and academically, both have their pros and cons. If one option suits your way of study more, and is just a better fit with your life. Then you’re far more likely to make it a success – and enjoy the process.

Perhaps it’s a cliché, but your future is genuinely in your own hands – make sure your uniqueness is what informs your decision.

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