Not going to uni: What to do next

What comes after school? It doesn’t have to be uni…

Whether you’re put off by student loans, you need a break from education, or you’re keen on starting work straight after school – going to university isn’t the right choice for everyone. And you might be surprised at the career prospects available to those without a degree.

If you’re considering not going to uni, here are a few options of what you could do next:



If you’ve just finished school and you don’t have any work experience, traineeships and internships are a great way to prepare yourself for your future career.

Traineeships usually last from six weeks to six months, and are offered exclusively to 16-23 year olds. Not only do they provide essential work preparation training, they’re also the perfect opportunity to gain the practical skills and experience needed to move onto an apprenticeship or job.

While internships are similar to traineeships, they’re available to people of all ages – and usually focus more on providing practical work experience, rather than guided training and work preparation.

Internships: What you need to know

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School leaver programmes

School leaver programmes are becoming a popular choice for A-level students who aren’t interested in university, but still want the learning and training that’s involved with further education.

These programmes are designed to give school leavers the chance to earn a qualification whilst working part-time or full-time (and earning a wage). The exact structure of a school leaver programme will largely depend on the company you work for.

School leaver programmes could last anything from three to seven years, and are most common in industries like accountancy, finance, retail, engineering, and IT.

How to get work experience

A Level and GCSE retakes



With apprenticeships available to anyone over the age of 16, they offer the perfect opportunity to access work-based training straight after school.

By providing a range of useful training in a practical setting, an apprenticeship will give you the chance to learn industry specific skills and qualifications alongside earning a wage.

And, although they’re commonly associated with skilled labour positions, apprenticeships are actually offered in almost every sector and industry – from beauty and construction to graphic design and plumbing.

Apprenticeships for school leavers

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Entry-level jobs

If you’re keen to start work straight away, an entry-level job could be well within your reach. And you may be surprised at what kind of jobs are available.

Whether you want to start a career in education, you’re interested in breaking into the marketing industry, or you’re passionate about IT – you don’t always need extensive experience or qualifications to start a career in your preferred sector.

And with many employers providing on-the-job training for new recruits, you’ll be able to learn a range of key skills to help you progress within the industry.

Six of the best entry-level jobs

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Professional certifications

If you don’t want to go to university, but you’re passionate about learning, a professional certification could be for you.

Taking a course specific to your preferred industry will enable you to gain the necessary qualifications needed to get started in your career – without committing to three years at university. And, with the opportunity to study on a distance learning and/or part-time basis, you’ll have the freedom to get a job or spend time on working on other things.

Not only will studying for a professional certification allow you to gain new skills, it’ll also improve your employability.

Skip the debt: How to get qualified without going to university

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Charities and non-profit organisations hire thousands of volunteers every year – meaning the range of opportunities in this field is practically endless.

Although you won’t get paid (apart from expenses), you’ll have the chance to carry out the tasks and duties that could later be a part of your career. And, the experience you gain as a volunteer could be what makes you stand out from competitors in future job applications.

So if you’re keen on doing something you love and helping others – whilst gaining a range of useful skills that many employers consider prerequisites – volunteering could be a great way of getting your career started.

How to find volunteer work

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Gap year

Finishing school doesn’t always mean having to make the choice between work or university.

If you’re not keen on either, taking a gap year could be the best way to figure out what you really want to do – whilst giving yourself the opportunity to travel, work as a temp, meet new people, and generally gain some valuable life experience.

Afterwards, you’ll be able to come back with a fresh mindset and a better idea of what you really want to do. Remember: you’ll still have options in a year’s time.

How to start work after your gap year



If you have a passion or hobby that you think you could turn into a career – now could be the time to do it.

Whether you’re keen on creating a website, you want to sell your crafts on an online marketplace, or you’re passionate about starting your own business – there are many ways you can turn your expertise into a job.

However, if you’re interested in pursuing this route, it’s important to consider the feasibility of your idea – alongside the potential costs involved.

Is self-employment right for me?

Five self-employed jobs that you could be doing right now


Final thoughts

Deciding whether to go to university or not can seem like the biggest choice you’ll ever have to make. But don’t panic if you’re in two minds over what to do.

Even if you decide to skip university for now – that doesn’t mean you’re closing the door forever. It’s perfectly acceptable to take some time out after school to do other things, which will give you the experience to make an informed decision on what to do next.

Just don’t be swayed by what everyone else is doing. Make a choice that makes sense to you, your situation and your own career.

That way, whatever your decision, you’ll know you’re making it for all the right reasons.

Should I go to university?

School leaver CV template


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