15th August, 2019

Alternatives to University your Child May Not Have Considered

By Joe D

It’s Results Day, and that means it’s time for celebration.

The end of your child’s A-Levels brings with it the end of their schooling. They’re about to start an exciting new chapter in their lives.

We think that warrants a glass of champagne or two!

But once the bottle’s run dry, and your child has had time to reflect on their grades, their thoughts (and yours) will inevitably turn to the future.

While university is often a popular choice for A-Level students, it isn’t always the right fit for your child.

If your child has decided that university isn’t for them, then there are a number of great alternatives that they might not have considered.

Here are some of the routes they could take…


boy using saw on apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are rapidly growing in popularity, and an increasing number of opportunities are opening up.

Essentially, an apprenticeship offers your child the opportunity to learn on the job. They’ll earn a wage, gain valuable experience, and end up with a vocational qualification at the end of it.

It’s a fantastic first rung on your child’s career ladder that can set them up for the rest of their lives.

Here are some reasons your child should choose an apprenticeship...

The Money

Unlike university, where every penny parents earn somehow ends up in their child’s pockets, apprenticeships provide your child with a wage.

The minimum wage for an apprenticeship is lower than that of a standard job (ÂŁ3.90 per hour), due to the fact that your child is also earning a qualification. Note, however, that apprentices often earn as much as ÂŁ4,000 more a year than new graduates.

That small amount of money is still enough to help your child become more independent. They’ll be able to contribute to rent, food, bills, and possibly be able to start saving a bit of money.

This will teach them how to budget and handle their finances responsibly, skills that will be invaluable later on in life.

The Work

We spend most of the week working or sleeping. It’s probably safe to say your child has had plenty of experience sleeping, but working might be a foreign concept to them!

Working towards an apprenticeship will introduce your child to the working world. They’ll learn how to manage their time, juggle different tasks, and communicate with fellow employees. All of this will be incredibly useful when they finally start developing their career.

Your child will also gain work experience. If you’ve ever helped a young person apply to a job, you’ll understand how useful it is to already have experience.

When your child embarks on their career they’ll already have some of the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

The Qualification

One of the best parts of an apprenticeship is the fact that your child will come away with a qualification at the end of it.

The type of qualification will depend on the level of apprenticeship your child does, but they range from National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) through to BTECs or even Foundational Degrees.

These qualifications help set your child apart when they come to apply for jobs.

Other Benefits

There are plenty of other benefits associated with apprenticeships, especially compared to university.

The lack of student debt is a big one. An apprenticeship also helps your child get their foot in the door of a large business. This increases the chances of them being hired by that company once their apprenticeship finishes.

Ultimately, an apprenticeship is a fantastic alternative to university, and your child should definitely consider it.

You can see a list of available apprenticeships here.


young people laughing at desk during internships

Internships are similar to apprenticeships in that they offer your child the chance to gain some work experience, and potentially earn some money.

The difference is that they generally only last for a short length of time, and they don’t always pay.

Despite this, internships can be a strong step towards your child’s chosen career. It can provide them with contacts and teach them important work skills.

Here’s why it might be worth doing an internship…

The Experience

Work experience will be crucial when your child starts searching for a job. A lot of vacancies require previous experience, even the so-called “Entry Level” jobs!

Getting your foot in the door can be difficult, depending on how competitive the industry is. Having any experience at all may be enough to set your child apart.

The experience your child gains during their internship will give them an idea of what to expect from their chosen career. It might further boost their love for it, or it might make them realise it isn’t as great as they thought. Either way, it helps them make a choice about their future.

The Contacts

Internships are a great way for your child to meet different people. They’re likely to interact with people from all across the business.

Interacting with professionals is a little different to interacting with classmates, and so this will help your child to develop their interpersonal skills and teach them how to communicate more effectively in the workplace.

These contacts can help provide references for your child should they need one, and could also introduce them to job opportunities. Some internships also offer your child a mentor, who will help them develop and provide insightful career advice.

The Skills

A lot of young people entering the workplace are woefully underprepared for the skills required. Schools generally focus on the academic side, and overlook core skills that are needed for working environments.

An internship will help your child to develop various different skills, including time management, prioritisation, and organisation.

It will give your child a taste of what it’s like to work in a professional environment, ensuring they can jump in at the deep end when they start their future position.

Other Benefits

Like apprenticeships, an internship doesn’t cost you anything (other than perhaps travel costs). Compared to university fees, it’s basically free. Your child will have no student debts.

Internships are often used by large companies as part of a larger recruitment process. If your child impresses, they may be invited to apply for a full-time position, or even offered a job on the spot!

Internships are a good alternative to university. You can find some internships to suit your child here.


young woman at work

Depending on your child’s chosen career, it might be possible for them to simply start working.

Not every job requires a degree or advanced qualification. Some simply need A-Levels, others just GCSEs.

There’s no reason why your child can’t simply skip over the university or apprenticeship stages of development and start their first job.

It can be difficult to find a position, but there are a lot of benefits to be gained…

The Independence

There comes a time where every child wants to become more independent. Most of the time, their parents feel the same way!

Unlike the other alternatives to university, starting work can provide your child with the independence they crave.

They’ll be earning a proper wage, which means they can contribute to rent or bills, or even save up for a place of their own. If they’re truly desperate to flee the nest, they can possibly find somewhere to rent.

By starting work right away, your child will become much more independent than other people their age, and can start getting their finances in order.

The Maturity

While most teenagers believe themselves to be mature adults, that’s often not the case. Most people don’t truly mature until they’ve started work.

If your child is still a little on the immature side, then starting work could well be the kick they need to become a functioning member of society.

Working will force your child to adapt to adult life fairly quickly. They’ll need to manage their time, maintain professional relationships, and learn to cooperate.

This will lead to a more well-rounded person, ready for the challenges that adult life presents.

The Career

If your child has a career in mind already, and there are no barriers to that career (doesn’t need a degree, for example) then it makes sense for your child to start their career path as soon as they can.

Entering the workplace straight after finishing their A-Levels will give your child a head-start over those who go to university or do an apprenticeship.

The sooner your child can get started, the sooner they can work up the career ladder and get to where they want to go.

Other Benefits

While diving in at the deep end and starting a job can be a scary prospect, it could be the push your child needs.

It can set them up on their career journey, providing them with the independence they need and want.

There are plenty of job boards out there, so get looking!

Gap Years

young woman working during gap year

Gap years have a bad rep. People often imagine lazy teenagers wanting an excuse to go on holiday.

However, a gap year actually has the potential to add a wealth of unique experiences to your child’s CV, increase their confidence, and make them more independent.

As long as your child is doing something constructive with their time, and not simply lounging in the sun, then a gap year can be extremely beneficial for a number of reasons...

The Experiences

Life isn’t all about work. Even though travelling might not help your child get on the career ladder, it can offer them once-in-a-lifetime experiences that they’ll never forget.

For that reason alone a gap year could be worth pursuing, but a lot of kids who do a gap year also spend time working or learning a new craft.

The experiences gained by working abroad or by learning a completely new skill will help your child’s CV stand out from the rest.

Working in a foreign country can be challenging, but that’s why future employers will value it so highly.

The Self-Sufficiency

So far in their life, your child has relied on your for their survival. You’ve ensured they’ve been fed and washed, you’ve helped them get to places on time. They’re now at the age where they need to take responsibility for themselves.

Gap years require a great deal of planning and organisation. Your child will need to arrange their accommodation, food, work, and budget.

They’ll have to dive in at the deep end, and force themselves to become independent. They’ll have to do all of this while in a new country, with no friends or family to turn to.

It’s a challenge, sure, but it’s one that will make your child a well-rounded member of society, ready for the trials of adult life.

The Culture

Our world is becoming increasingly connected, and it’s now more important than ever to appreciate other people’s cultures and backgrounds.

By doing a gap year, your child will be immersing themselves in a different culture. They’ll have to adapt to another way of life, possibly even learn a new language!

This will help them massively in the future. It will make them appreciate different people’s backgrounds, and teach them how to communicate with people from different cultures.

Other Benefits

A gap year can be a great way of recharging the batteries, while also building up work experience and learning about different parts of the world.

Your child will come back more independent, more confident, and ready for what the adult world will throw at them.

You can find some great gap year ideas and opportunities here.

What Next?

As you can see, university isn’t the only option for your child.

There are lots of different alternatives, ranging from apprenticeships to gap years. As long as your child makes the most of any opportunities they’re given, they’ll get something out of them.

For now, give your child some time to rest and reflect on their successes. The world can wait a little longer...

Log In