What if University isn’t for me?
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions… What do you do now the exams are over?
Let’s face it not everyone wants to, needs to or can afford to go to university these days. With the recent announcement that university fees are set to increase yet again, some topping a whopping £9k per annum (ouch!), many school and college leavers are in somewhat of a dilemma. It is a lot of money to commit to and who knows how much the fees will increase in the coming years? Are you asking yourself ” what if university isn’t for me? Not everyone has to go to university, there are various options open to you. Below we’ve lists some ideas you may find of interest.
Do you want to go to uni or do something else?
However, whilst some parents will probably hate me for saying this, going to university is not the be all and end all and there are other options, which can boost a CV and help secure a job and today, im going to go through a few ideas.
As you know, I am a professional CV writer and have written CVs now for many years and I know what makes good CV content and what a school leaver or graduate should include to really elevate their chances of securing a position.
It has to be said, this time of year is an uncertain and worrying one for many young people and not every school or college actually provides sound advice on what can be done to boost a CV, I’ve seen some corkers in my time and heard a lot of bad advice.
What are the options for Graduates?
In the next few months, it’s basically crunch time and most young people will have to make a difficult decision:
- Do I go to university, pay huge fees and risk being able to find a suitable job to pay them off in 3 years when who knows what the economy will be like?
- Do I really need or want a degree, can I just start looking for a job and forge my career by other means?
Will you follow your gut instinct?
Whilst a young person may feel pressured by family and peers to go to uni as well, it really isn’t an absolute must and I would always suggest following their instinct after weighing up the pros and cons.
In reality, not everyone is cut out for university, not everyone has a strong enough desire, not everyone can afford it and so on. That’s fine as not everyone is the same and not everyone will have a burning ambition at this age. It is a bit of a ‘feeling lost’ time, if anything. I find many young people actually don’t know what they want to do and I have to admit, I was the same at that age. I never had a master plan, I just followed a path that really, I stumbled upon and I think I have done ok!
Think about it carefully, weigh up your options
In today’s highly competitive job market I would always suggest, as I mentioned above, to really sit down and spend some time thinking about it all in a focused and objective manner. Write a list of pros and cons if need be and add to them as I find things generally spring to mind when you least expect them to, probably at 4am.
By really looking at an individual’s situation as a whole, I have often found candidates have seen the answer staring back at them, particularly if the degree they fancied taking will have absolutely no relevance on the career path they plan to take.
However, just because there is no obvious correlation between the course they like and their preferred career, it is not a reason to scrub the idea. Many transferable skills can be adopted from university, which are essential for the work place provided they are a committed student and not skipping lectures left, right and centre.
If their chosen career dictates that they must have X degree then enough said, one way or another they will have to qualify to even be considered but physically going away to uni is not the only answer.
Tricky, isn’t it?
What are the pros and cons?
Honestly, if not done so already, write a list of pros and cons, the answer could be staring them in the face as I said earlier.
So, with the list compiled it might be clear that a traditional university placement is not the answer at the moment and that’s fine. Not everyone goes on to get a degree at this age, I know I didn’t.
CASE STUDY: I jumped in to the world of work after A Levels, I didn’t go on to university as by that time I had moved out and took on a mortgage at the age of 18. However, I knew I always wanted to do a degree level course and went on to graduate twice in my late 20’s. So, I am a real life example that going to uni right away is not always the best thing, but perhaps qualifying a bit later in life. By deferring, I was able to choose courses which reinforced where my career had taken me and they’ve now stood me in good stead to run my own businesses.
Not going away to University, what options are there?
If employment is the course to be taken, I would always strongly suggest a young person start thinking about ways in which to really increase their employability and boost their CV content.
I am going to list a few ideas to help develop a CV below:
- Distance Degree Learning
Ok, so Uni might have been ruled out for financial reasons. It’s not only the cost of the course which is expensive but the accommodation rental and general living expenses, which don’t come cheap. However, there are many courses offered, which mean you can stay at home and study to reduce costs and the Open University offer a wide range of courses.
- College Courses
Open University is not the only option, the local college should also offer a range of interesting courses, so don’t be afraid to look them up and attend their open days and career development days.
- Extra Curricular Activities
If someone really doesn’t want to go on to study, then they will need to ensure their CV has suitable content to ensure and employer knows enough about them, their skills and what they have to offer. In the main, most young people’s CVs actually lack this vital information. If they don’t currently have any extra-curricular activities, what can they join up to?
When i’m asked to write a student or graduate CV, I can generally extrapolate key information that the candidate hasn’t even thought about.
Most people do, or have done at least one thing which demonstrates commitment, creativity, trouble-shooting, trustworthiness, teamwork, leadership, etc so looking at what they are good at and excel in is imperative.
By evaluating things like these and identifying key skills, that lightbulb moment might just arise and the perfect career might be so obvious that you didn’t initially see it.
- Voluntary Work
Ah, the working for nothing option, which doesn’t always fill a young person with much pleasure but actually can prove invaluable. Committing to a period of voluntary work not only helps the community immensely but it always demonstrates positive attributes to an employer and can be a way of networking a way in to a position. Local organisations and charities are always looking for help, why not visit some volunteer websites and see what is about in your area?
- Work Experience / Internship
Again, this will generally be unpaid but invaluable in terms of experience and there are many companies out there who are prepared to take on work experience candidates. If this route is chosen a fantastic CV and cover letter will be required to outline what can be offered in return for the opportunity of gaining experience. I can help you here, my student and graduate CVs are just £31.99 during July and August. —> offer now expired, please visit our SHOP to see what current offers are running.
CASE STUDY: This is exactly what my step-daughter did. She knew what she wanted to do and it wasn’t university. Whilst still at college completing an NVQ, I composed a CV for her and within no time at all, she had secured a work experience placement which fitted in around her existing studies. She loved it! During that time she gained a host of experience, developed new skills, made new friends and we saw her confidence grow to a new level. Once college ended, she continued with the work experience and was in the ideal place to take up a part-time job at the practice because she had already proven her abilities and commitment to them. Whilst the part-time role was not her ideal job, it was something she enjoyed and it put her is THE ideal place to hear about any of her ‘dream job’ vacancies in the local area. It was a strategy that paid off. Within a year, she has secured that dream job, with training. She is now earning and learning, forging a worthwhile career and we are immensely proud of her.
Apprenticeships are a great way to earn whilst you learn because most of then are vocational courses, enabling study alongside real, practical ‘hands-on’ experience. Apprenticeships will provide a dedicated path in which to follow and many major organisations are now signed up and offering apprenticeship schemes. Once in decline, apprenticeships are gaining popularity again and are really worth considering.
So, here are just a few ideas but the key thing to remember is to do what is best for you and ensure you really sell you skills and any experience you have if you do decide not to go on to do any further study.
At this age, writing an excellent and impressive CV is essential and it is sometimes harder than anticipated to ensure it is focused, absolutely correct and will really showcase key skills, experience and attributes.
This is why I am running a special offer this year to help young people. I am offering a professional CV writing service for students, school leavers and recent graduates for just £31.99 during the months of July and August 2011.
Free CV Review
Alternatively, we offer a free no-obligation Free CV Review service and one of our professional CV writers will scrutinise and check the CV, making some recommendations.
Send us your CV now!