To a high school senior or school leaver, it can seem as if everything is riding on the decisions they make after they leave school.
In many ways, the decision of what to do after school, college (in the UK), or sixth form is a pretty significant one – but the idea that university is your only option in most cases is a myth.
The truth is, there are a variety of options open to you once you graduate from high school, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
There’s no cookie-cutter method for figuring out what’s right for you, however, it still makes sense to inform yourself of some of the options that are available.
Higher Education Institutions
Going on to university is the common next step for many graduates of high school.
This can be done in a number of ways, such as by enrolling in a three- or four-year degree, taking a gap year (then attending university), or working towards a master’s or doctoral degree.
More and more businesses are giving preference to applicants who have earned graduate degrees or have other forms of advanced training.
Unfortunately, going to university isn’t without its drawbacks: it can drain your finances, take up a lot of your time, and stress you out emotionally and mentally. Before committing to a programme, it’s important to think about what you hope to achieve and how much money you have available to supplement your student finance.
Join the workforce
For students who prefer to jump straight into the workforce, there are plenty of options available.
This can include entering an apprenticeship or trade program, pursuing a career in the military, or finding a job in your desired industry.
Entering the workforce immediately after high school can provide valuable work experience and financial stability, and many careers offer opportunities for advancement and growth.
However, it’s important to remember that some industries may require additional training or certifications in order to advance, and certain jobs may not offer the same long-term earning potential as those that require higher education.
If a student wants to enter the skilled trades or a technical field as a career, an apprenticeship may be an excellent choice.
Apprenticeships provide a means by which students can acquire both theoretical and practical expertise in a given field through a combination of on-the-job and classroom learning.
Many employers look for candidates with apprenticeship experience because it often leads to lucrative full-time jobs.
However, competition for apprenticeships can be fierce and the time commitment may be substantial.
Further, in order to be fully qualified for the position, some apprenticeships may require students to complete additional coursework or certifications.
As a whole, an apprenticeship programme can be a great choice for students who are committed to learning a particular trade or profession,
however, be prepared to face fierce competition during the application process, as, often there are many more applicants for places available.
Before settling on a career, a gap year can give students time to figure out what they’re passionate about and what they’re good at in the real world.
This may involve exploring new places, helping others, or working to put money away for a more secure financial future.
High school students can benefit greatly from taking a year off to explore their passions and priorities away from the classroom.
Gap years can be extremely rewarding, but only if they are well-planned in advance.
Spontaneous gap years tend to breed more spontaneity, which may result in quick short-term decisions with limited foresight or scope for future success.
Internships are an excellent opportunity to gain practical work experience and network with professionals in your field of interest.
Internships for students and recent graduates are common and typically last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Internships allow you to gain experience in a specific field or industry while also providing you with the chance to network with established professionals.
Internships are beneficial for many reasons, but one of the most significant is the fact that many interns end up getting full-time offers.
If you impress your coworkers and superiors during your internship, you may be offered a permanent position once it concludes.
Those who are unable or unwilling to attend college/university also have the option of going into business for themselves.
The freedom to set your own hours and pursue your interests can be attractive motivating factors when deciding between working for someone else or going into business for yourself.
Starting a business or going into self-employment is no easy feat; however, the rewards for your efforts can be substantial.
Working for yourself allows you to set your own schedule and location. If you like to travel or just want a more balanced life, this may be a good option for you.
Furthermore, since the profits from self-employment belong solely to the business owner, it often pays better than working for someone else.
Travel or rural life
If you’re looking for an adventure and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, working on a farm can be a great option.
Many farms around the world offer work opportunities for travellers, and this can be a great way to see new places, meet new people, and learn new skills.
Farm work can include everything from picking fruit to caring for animals, and it can be a great way to get outside and enjoy nature.
One of the biggest advantages of farm work is that you don’t need any special qualifications or experience to get started.
Many farms offer training and on-the-job support, so you can learn as you go.
Additionally, farm work can be a great way to save money, as many farms offer free accommodation and meals in exchange for work.
In conclusion, going to university is not the only path to a successful career. Internships, self-employment, and travelling (working on a farm) are just a few of the many alternatives available to young people today.
Whatever path you choose, it’s important to do what feels right for you and to keep an open mind about the opportunities that come your way.
If you want more information about whether university is the right option for you, consider reading the PDF on “is university right for you” where we explore all the different career options available to you!
Explore for yourself the world of non-traditional yet lucrative career options that could secure your path to financial success!