Knowing what you want to do after you leave school can be a very tricky decision. Two of the main options that students pick are university or an apprenticeship. But knowing which one is right for you can be a little hard. They are both great options, so it just depends which option is more suited to you.

If you want to get that work experience right away, then apprenticeships could be the one for you. Whereas, if you want to live more independently and carry on your studies is a more specialised subject then university could be calling your name!

What is an Apprenticeship?

Lots of companies take on apprentices. They run schemes where they take on students that have just left school, usually at age 16-18. An apprenticeship is a job role that specialises in a certain area and gets you into the workplace right away.

Companies like taking on apprentices because it means they can teach you right from the start exactly how they do things in their business.

Types of apprenticeship

There are many different types of schemes available, so you won’t be restricted to anything. Apprenticeships are available in lots of industries including accounting, law, media, engineering, business admin, IT and more!

Big companies like ASOS and Google take on apprentices so this could be a really big opportunity that you may want to take.

Things to consider

  • Apprenticeship wage – the way for an apprentice is a lot lower than the minimum wage for 16–18-year-olds. It is currently at £4.30 per hour whilst the minimum wage for 1-year olds is £6.83 per hour (2022).
  • Lifestyle – the lifestyle an apprentice lives is very different from a university student; most university students move out of their home and live in student accommodation. This means they have to be extremely independent. Of course, as an apprentice you may want to move out of your home and live independently too. University students tend to have a little more time to socialise than someone on an apprenticeship scheme as they typically work 9-5.
  • Will you gain any qualifications? Another good thing to consider is whether your apprenticeship allows you to gain any qualifications. They may give you time to study/ train for something like a degree alongside your work. If they do, the next step is t check if this is paid for by the company.

Benefits of apprenticeships

Some companies will make it compulsory for you to get a degree and they will fund it. You get to experience a little bit of the student life and attend lectures, meet new people in seminars, get to experience the campus etc. This usually works by having a week off work every month so that you can attend your lectures or something similar to this.

Another benefit is that you get paid right from leaving school. This means you can start saving right away, whereas those at university are spending money on living fees and tuition fees.

A huge benefit that a lot of university students miss out on is that you can start building your work experience portfolio. This will be a massive help for you in the future if you are looking to move jobs as it means you will also be able to get a good reference.

What the university experience is like

A lot of people want to go to university for the typical university experience. You get to live with other students in student accommodation. You are living without your parents, so it means you are completely responsible for yourself. You receive a student loan, and it is down to you how you spend it.

University offers a range of opportunities so that you can have the best time possible. This includes study abroad years/ placements, the option to join societies, the chance to meet new people from all over the country, student nights out, volunteering opportunities, huge sports events and competitions with other universities and so much more!

Types of university courses

If you want to go into something a little bit different or a more niche industry which might not offer apprenticeships, then a degree might be perfect for you.

Benefits of university

  • Placement opportunities – A lot of courses will give you the opportunity to take a year out of studying to gain work experience. These placements are usually paid. Some courses will help find you the placement whereas others might rely on you to source it yourself. Placements can be competitive and difficult to find depending on your industry.
  • A degree – you will come out with a degree in your chosen subject which a lot of industries value.
  • Independence skills – if you move out of home and into student accommodation then there are so many things you will learn on the way. These things will prepare you for adult life and the real world.
  • International opportunities – many universities give you the opportunity to study abroad in summer or as a placement year. You are usually given lots of guidance and most likely will be given a place if you meet all the requirements of the program.
  • Social opportunities – university provides you with so many opportunities to get to know new people. You can join societies, attend social events ran by your SU and there are multiple places to hang out with friends around campus.

Final Thoughts

It is good to know that students can apply for both university and for apprenticeships at the same time so if you want to keep your options open then this may be a good idea to do. It is sometimes the case that students attend university, and it just does not work for them. If this is the case, then do not worry! Lots of people feel like this and it can be very hard moving out of home to a different city. If you feel like this, then switching to an apprenticeship is very much an option you can move to!

Make sure you do your research on both of these options to see which more suits you the most.

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