The choice between university or an apprenticeship is a tough one faced by most teenagers in the UK. When completing your A-Levels, choosing what to do after is a tough decision for many. At the mere age of 18, you're asked to choose what path you want to take for the rest of your life. What you choose to do at 18 years old can shape the adult you become. There are advantages and disadvantages to university and apprenticeships. However, it's important you make the decision that's right for you.
Apprenticeships involve work-based learning whilst being paid. You can get apprenticeships in a variety of different fields from childcare, animal work, Business Administration, to IT, Engineering, and Dental Nursing. You get paid whilst you learn on the job. Some apprenticeships involve college days and they involve doing work at home outside of working hours. On the other hand, university is usually more classroom-based, studying a specific subject. If you want to get into certain professions such as teaching, nursing, dentistry, law, or medicine, you have to attend university to gain these qualifications. Apprenticeships are not an option. University usually involves moving away from home, getting a student loan, and paying for your accommodation and education. Courses at university usually last around three or four years whereas apprenticeships usually last one or two years but can last three or four years depending on what you choose to do.
University has historically been seen as the best option and for the more intelligent and able. Apprenticeships are stereotypically viewed as something for those who aren't academically able and an "easier" option. However, this is far from true. Apprenticeships take a large amount of hard work and dedication. Often in Apprenticeships you'll be working 40 hours a week and when you get home you'll continue working on coursework. You're more than likely going to feel tired all week as it's non stop work. From personal experience i work form 7.45-5.00 Monday to Friday and wake up at 5.30 AM five days a week. When I get home at six, I have to continue doing work for my course, and by the time I've finished and eaten, it's usually time for bed, and then up at 5.30 AM again. Apprenticeships take a huge amount of hard work and dedication and it is not an easy option. Nowadays, employers are largely looking for experience, and the more experience you get, the more valuable you're going to look to a potential employer. For example, take someone who's done a marketing apprenticeship. They'd have direct experience working in the field. Then take someone with a marketing degree. They may have lots of theory, but they don't have the practical experience on a CV that a marketing apprentice would have. Experience is often what employers value and look for nowadays, as it's more common to have a degree, it doesn't set you apart from everyone else anymore. Even though apprenticeships are great for experience and earning a salary whilst learning, they are hard work and a commitment you must be willing to make.
University also has its perks, but it's not for everyone. Remember, if University isn't for you, don't feel bad. It's not for everyone and there are other pathways in life. I attended university for a year, found out it wasn't for me as I'm more of a work-based learner. I attended University as my Sixth form didn't talk much about apprenticeships. University felt like the only path and everyone was taking it so I thought I should too. It felt exciting applying for all these universities, getting offers, and moving out of home. However, when I got to university and started the course, I realised I hated sitting in a lecture room, talking about all these theories and having to write assignment after assignment. If you love reading, learning about new theories, and enjoy debating theories in an academic environment, then university is for you. However, if you like to learn hands on and gain experience, then apprenticeships are for you. There are even degree apprenticeships now where you get paid to do a degree whilst gaining hands on experience.
University is still a great experience and if you're not a hands on learner, it could be great for you. University is also great for socialising and making friends. If you're social and love going out, university is a great way to meet new people and make friends. There's always so much going on at University with societies and there's always something to get involved in. Obviously if you want to get into a profession like nursing, medicine, or teaching, you have to go to university to gain these qualifications. There are pros and cons to university and apprenticeships. At the end of the day, it comes down to if you work better with hands on learning or in an academic, classroom environment. But university and apprenticeships are equally difficult. Both require a high amount of hard work and dedication and can lead to great careers and future prospects. Don't let anyone tell you an apprenticeship is the easy option. It's far from easy. Apprenticeships and university both have valuable uses and give good experiences. It's about making an informed decision about which path is best for you, as the decision you make so young can impact the rest of your life.