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Post 18 options

Post 18 Options for Your Teenager

It’s not all about university in this day and age. University has long been viewed as the most credible route towards building a career; however the times are changing. Post-18 options span to much more than just the traditional university pathway, with the government and leading businesses across the country advocating the development of top class apprenticeships and school leaver programmes that set bright young people on the path to their desired career, without having to fork out for university fees.

Here’s a little look at the post-18 options currently available:


Despite the increase in fees to £9,000 per year and the recent government decision to switch student grants to a loan format, university is still a hugely popular choice for students taking A-Levels, the IB or eligible HNDs or NVQs.

University gives your child the time to focus on their career choice. There are a huge range of courses on offer, and the experience will allow your child to explore and grow, academically and personally. University is a fantastic place to make contacts, and can offer a lot of opportunities for them to experiment with different career choices, with guidance from their tutors. A Bachelors or Master’s degree (2:1 or above is desired from most employers) is the key to many career paths. Some cannot be achieved without this kind of qualification, such as medicine or scientific research.

Of course, this option is unfortunately very expensive: a typical student on a three-year course outside of London might expect to graduate with around £35,000 - £40,000 of student loans, plus interest. Some students pick this route because they hear about how fun it is, and if your child isn’t dedicated to their course and gaining work experience whilst they are there then they run the risk of leaving university no more clued up about their career than when they started.


Gap Year

In the traditional sense of travelling, some people go abroad with a group of friends, some go alone, some go on a volunteering programme, and some do a gap year programme (normally taking six months to work and another six to travel).

Big bonuses include getting to see the world which is a real formative and educational experience. It encourages independence and confidence, as well as practical skills like planning and money management. This can give your child some proper time to consider their plans for the future, and allow them to return with more focus.

A gap year doesn’t have to involve travel. Your child could pick up a stable job for a year, which is good for having time to think about what to do next, having time to earn a bit of money before making a decision, and sometimes a gap year job can turn into a career!

Whatever the gap year type, it’s important that it is carefully planned, the reasons for taking it are clear, and whatever is done is worthwhile. A CV full of a year lying around on beaches won’t look too impressive. It needs to be an opportunity to help your child to stand out from the crowd in a pile of CVs.


Higher Apprenticeship and School Leaver Scheme

Although two different models, there are similarities that interlink these two post-18 options. They both offer either degree or professional qualification study alongside working in a paid position for a company. Higher Apprenticeships follow a government framework, whereas school leaver schemes and programmes are run independently by companies. School Leaver Programmes tend to be longer compared to Higher Apprenticeships; however both can lead to further employment opportunities with the training company.

These options offer hands-on work experience and study for a degree or recognised industry qualification whilst your child earns a salary. They can avoid student debt, and there is a variety of programmes available. More and more are popping up as they become a more valid post-18 option than ever before, and your child will have more experience of work than their peers who went to university with this kind of route, which will make them more employable at graduation age.

Most of these opportunities are currently in the professional services, engineering and IT. The arts are underrepresented and your child will have to decide whether they want to skip the ‘university experience’.


Sponsored Degrees

This is all about a blend of university study and hands-on work experience. Some programmes will be split throughout the week (e.g. three days working, two days at university) whereas some may be one year working, one year in full-time study etc. There is no cookie cutter.

This is an exciting option for a student who is keen to earn a high standard of qualification whilst getting into the workplace as soon as they can. More and more of the country’s leading graduate employers are now offering Sponsored Degree Programmes, which can lead to a permanent position or a position on their graduate schemes on completion.

These programmes tend to cover tuition fees and offer a salary when the student is working. This can result in bags more experience than your child’s peers, and it’s perfect if they like the idea of a degree but are unhappy about the cost/want to jump straight into work.

There are, however, a limited number of companies/universities that run Sponsored Degrees as opposed to a regular degree at the moment. They are mostly within the engineering sector, or the professional services.


What’s next?

ULAS can help your child reach their goals whatever they may be by providing access to opportunities, a CV and personal statement builder and an abundance of information and advice. To access the ULAS platform, your teenager’s school has to be signed up to use it.  If you’d like your teenager to be able to use the tools that ULAS has on offer, just let their teacher know about us and that it is totally free. Alternatively, click here to fill out their teacher or Head of 6th Form’s details and we will get in touch with them ourselves. We know it would be an invaluable resource for your teenager, so please help us spread the word!

Opportunities your child may be interested in: