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University Alternatives

Even when it’s take-up time at university, many would-be students who had provisional places, and just as many who had already dismissed university as not being a possibility, will be seeking an alternative to the university route to employment and qualification.

So whilst some are unpacking in halls and looking forward to Freshers’ Week, what might other options be for those who want their next step to be on a slightly different path?

Gap years

Gap years started to make an appearance on the pathway between education and work some 40 years ago.

From its early format as something of an opportunity afforded to literally those who could afford to take a year “out”, a gap year is now something which many students consider as an option in that period of time between college and university or, occasionally, between university and work (although this option is less-popular as graduates become more reluctant to miss out on graduate workplace incentives and opportunities).

Great Gaps?

As well as deferring paying out on tuition fees for a year, a gap year offers other benefits, commonly cited as:

 

But gap year does also have a downside. In 2012, at least 22% of students felt that they could not afford to take a gap year whilst 20% of parents ended up supporting their children financially in taking the break (source: The Leap).

Additionally, with modern CVs being all about the competencies and less about gaps in history of work or study, it’s not always possible to demonstrate the value of your gap year to your next potential employer.

Studying abroad

Of course, a gap-or-study option which reconciles the desire to travel with the need to continue with studies, is to study abroad.

Particularly with rising costs of tuition in UK universities, studying abroad (often at a much lower cost) is seen as the perfect compromise. It also offers the chance to travel and try something new, as well as study in a way which might mean less in the way of debt and more in the way of expanded horizons and a level of marrying independence, risk and initiative with taking responsibility, all of which can be viewed very favourably by employers later on.

The downside of course is that going to university can be very isolating for students who haven’t lived away from home before anyway. Moving to another country (or even continent) to do this can be a real problem for some students. Additionally, although costs for tuition may be much less, there is still the very real cost of living to consider, as well as travel costs at the end of each semester and availability of work to you as a non-national, which is a major consideration if you need to also work whilst funding those studies.

Apprenticeships

The obvious alternative to university for those needing to earn whilst studying is to undertake an apprenticeship in a relevant career field or sector. However, although it’s a chance to get straight into the desired industry, apprenticeships do have their own angst-factors:

 

So if a gap year isn’t pertinent, a university at home or abroad isn’t possible and an apprenticeship isn’t practical, what options are left?

Vocational qualifications

Vocational qualifications are fast becoming one of the better options to facilitate the need to both earn and learn. Studying for a particular role in this way offers particular benefits, such as:

 

Of course, there is a downside to vocational qualifications is that it does require a commitment to study, something to bear in mind if you’re more drawn towards a gap year because you just want a complete break from studying!

However, if you’re undecided, it’s worth remembering that many Event Academy vocational qualifications can be studied on a flexible basis (not necessarily full-time) and so can offer the maximum potential to earn, learn and take time for yourself too!

Events could be the fresh start you're looking for