Feel like university might just not be the right option for you? You’re definitely not alone. With the ridiculous rise in tuition fees coupled with the increase in available alternatives to university, its no wonder that many young people like us are looking at different options for our future.
I mean realistically speaking, the majority of your time at uni is probably going to be spent getting drunk and playing Xbox. Of-course I’m not saying this is everyone but the underlying lifestyle that going to uni encourages is one of laziness and indifference.
I know because I’ve lived with students and had “the experience” 😉
If you want to spend 36 grand on doing that then feel free but I’m writing this post because I want to highlight just how much things have changed because of the internet economy.
University education is a topic that I can relate to on a very personal level, having gone through the trials and tribulations of school and college feeling completely indifferent to what I was studying, leading to me eventually dropping out all together to carve my own path to success.
Don’t get me wrong, University can still be a great write of passage but what most people don’t realise is the abundance of alternative opportunities we now have available to us.
Many traditional high-paying jobs don’t even require a degree anymore because there are other routes you can follow instead. In many cases these alternative ways of education turn out to be a lot faster than doing a degree.
I mean come on, three years for a degree? Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!!
There is an abundance of choice when it comes to alternatives to university now.
This wonderful quote I came across by Jim Rohn, has always stuck in my head and it comes to me every time I think about the traditional education system:
This underlying message of this quote is that if you make the effort to empower yourself with knowledge, you will make a fortune. At the end of the day, knowledge is power.
Knowledge changes your perspective, expands your mind, increases your awareness and helps you make better decisions in every aspect of your life.
Did you know that the traditional education we all go through was actually designed for factory workers?
The way school measures success is based on repetition and memory. This is partly the reason why so many successful people didn’t do well in school. It’s a one size fits all system that doesn’t work for so many of us.
If you’re a creative type, a critical thinker or an aspiring entrepreneur you can probably relate to what i’m saying right now in a powerful way.
So without further ado let’s get straight into this list of alternatives to university:
Apprenticeships can be a good way to get your foot in the door for a career in various industries.
Unfortunately, apprenticeships aren’t created equal so you need to really do your research to ensure the apprenticeship you’re considering is worthwhile.
Some people assume that the shorter apprenticeships are the ones that aren’t worth doing but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
An apprenticeship is officially defined as a “job with training”, however, this doesn’t accurately describe all apprenticeships as some of them blur the lines between a job and studying. (Something that I found out for myself when I took an apprenticeship in IT a few years ago.)
There are various levels of apprenticeships available, and the criteria for acceptance is based on your current grades and qualifications you have. I’ve found this to be pretty negotiable, based on your interview performance. If you don’t have the exact grades you need to qualify for the apprenticeship but you come across really well and demonstrate your enthusiasm and determination to succeed, you’ll find that exceptions will be made.
Being proactive and going that extra mile really does make all the difference.
Lets break down the different types of apprenticeships:
Intermediate apprenticeship – Level 2 competence qualification – Equivalent to 5 GCSE passes – Entry requirements are 2 GCSE A-C grades.
An intermediate apprenticeship is the most basic out of the lot. This type of apprenticeship would suit someone who struggled to get the grades at school and is looking for a more practical way to gain qualifications and work their way up through their chosen career path.
Advanced apprenticeship – Level 3 competence qualification – Equivalent to 2 A-level passes – Entry requirements are 5 GCSE passes.
An advanced apprenticeship could be the perfect next step for you if you’re a school leaver and you aren’t interested in studying A-levels. Doing it this way means you still get the A-level equivalents but you typically also study towards other industry related qualifications.
This puts you in a better position to secure a job because you’ve got industry standard qualifications as well as your A-level equivalents. (Employers love seeing both).
For example, I personally dropped out of sixth-form and did an advanced apprenticeship in IT. It was a five month intensive apprenticeship where I gained an NVQ level three, ADITP (Advanced Diploma for IT Practitioners), MCDST (Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician) and a CompTIA A+.
All those qualifications in the space of five months, while being paid £100 a week? I don’t see any university or college offering anything that even comes close to this.
Those qualifications also included IT industry qualifications that were highly sought after by employers, so securing a role after I completed the apprenticeship was made a lot easier.
Higher apprenticeships – Level 4 competence qualification – Degree & NVQ level 4 – Entry requirements are either completion of an Advanced apprenticeship or two A-levels.
Higher apprenticeships are specifically designed to develop your skills to the highest level. They are the top of the range of all apprenticeships and you can gain qualifications like an NVQ level 4, HND, foundation and even a masters degree in some cases.
Higher apprenticeships usually offer higher pay than the other two naturally because it is the most advanced level of training and work placement out of the three.
Academic education really isn’t for everyone and some people excel when it comes to practical skills.
Apprenticeships are a practical way of gaining new skills as well as on the job experience that employers love to see on your CV.
Please remember that not all apprenticeships are created equal and that some of them do suck.
Some employers still look at apprenticeship programs as cheap labour for their company so you must do your research to make sure you don’t get sucked into something that’s just a waste of time for you.
Some apprenticeships will suck you in for four years on an apprentice wage while you can actually train to work on a professional level doing the same thing in a matter of months through other means. Don’t get mugged off!
You can find out more about apprenticeships on the UK GOV website.
School leaver programmes
School leaver programmes are one of the most popular alternatives to university at the moment, it seems like everyone and their mum is on one.
These programs are popular for a reason though.
Many companies have created some really attractive packages for school leavers, resulting in most of them becoming over-subscribed.
This is because school leaver programmes have a number of attractive perks that include:
- A paid degree - Many school leaver programmes pay for your degree education, no debts for the student!
- You earn a salary - You get paid a full time salary immediately after starting, allowing you to become independent.
- Job security - Plenty of school leaver programmes continue on into fully qualified employment
- Professional qualification - Participants usually have the opportunity to attain a professional industry qualification, on top of their degree.
How long do school leaver programmes last?
This varies massively based on the employer and the industry but they can last between 3-7 years. These programmes tend to be longer than apprenticeships but they usually pay more as well as offer more clearly defined career progression opportunities.
The time you spend working and studying will alternate so some of the months during the year will be spent studying and some working. In some cases it can be a full year of studying followed by a year of working, again, it depends on the employer.
What do I need to qualify for one?
When it comes to school leaver programmes, employers are looking for bright, ambitious youngsters that are ready to dive head first into the world of working. You usually need really good grades to qualify for one of these… and by really good I mean you need A levels, or a certain number of UCAS points.
I’m not being specific here because the requirements are so variable based on the opportunity.
It’s worth noting that competition for these programmes isn’t as fierce as graduate opportunities. It is definitely easier to secure a school leaver programme role than it is to go through the graduate recruitment process.
If you’re scared of competition, go for the school leaver option!
What’s the difference between a school leaver programme and a higher apprenticeship?
Basically sounds like the same thing, right? Not really.
There are many similarities between the two but there are quite a few differences:
School leaver programmes are generally offered by big corporations and they tend to be longer than most apprenticeships.
The structure of school leaver programs can be quite different to apprenticeships as companies don’t follow any particular framework. For example, on an apprenticeship you might go to college once a week and then work for the rest but with school leaver programmes you might spend a whole year at university, before coming back to work and completing your studies through distant learning.
It is essential that you check out what each school leaver programme will entail as the structure can differ widely based on the company.
It’s worth noting that apprenticeships are more common than school leaver programmes and can be found in a wider variety of industries. School leaver programmes tend to be restricted to the finance and hospitality industry for the moment.
Things to watch out for that employers won’t tell you:
- Commitment - These school leaver programs demand your commitment. With some programmes lasting up to seven years, you need to know that it is 100% something you want to do.
- Contracts - You're usually tied into some form of contract when you join a school leaver program, making it difficult to just up and leave.
- Long hours - Some companies literally have a "work till you drop" culture. This is especially prevalent in London. Some of these companies will try and set ridiculous time expectations with a "don't stop until the work is complete" attitude.
Carve your own path
Confidence, enthusiasm, proactivity, determination, creativity. Qualities that every employer loves to see in a person.
If this is you then you can bypass all the pathways that have been laid out for you and carve your own. You can make your own way. Even if you don’t possess these qualities but you’re willing to stretch your comfort zone and put yourself out there then this could be something awesome for you.
Let me not just make sweeping statements:
The tools and technology that we now have available to us allows us to forge our own unique path towards any job, career or business.
What do employers want to see? Qualifications & experience.
Websites such as Udemy & Hot Courses offer thousands of online courses that allow you to become a master of pretty much anything in a very short space of time. The cost of some of these courses are less than £15.
I mean, seriously.
Why spend years doing an apprenticeship or joining a school leaver programme when you can empower yourself with the skills yourself and take a massive shortcut?
Let me give a real life scenario example of this:
You just finished college and have come out with A levels in Maths, Biology and IT.
You perform some research into the IT industry because it’s always something you’ve found interesting. You find out the best place to start in the industry. This happens to be in support. You research industry trends, ring up agencies and ask them about qualifications for relevant roles. You research job postings and reverse engineer the job requirements.
You discover that the compTIA A+ and MTA industry qualifications are highly sought after and a fantastic way to securing a first job in IT. You purchase courses for both on Udemy. You complete your studying and take your exams.
You pass both exams over the course a month. You update my CV with your new qualifications and offer to volunteer with a company for a couple of months.
After volunteering for literally two months, you add this to my CV and use this experience to secure your first role in IT.
All of this can be done in the space of three or four months.
Three or four months to setup yourself up a whole new career path.
When you talk about yourself in interviews and the employers hear about what you’ve been up to. I guarantee you that they will be blown away.
Yet most people follow the traditional, structured route and quite honestly waste their time.
The internet has opened pandora’s box of opportunities. The current system of education we have is way outdated.
Start An Online Business
Starting a business has got to be one of the best alternatives to university. We all know the stories of people like Richard Branson and Bill Gates but you’d be surprised to discover that this sort of thing is actually a lot more common that you might think.
Thousands of people are discovering legitimate ways to generate an income online and live a lifestyle that many assume are reserved for the lucky few.
Yes there are “get rich quick schemes” out there but this is not what i’m talking about.
These business opportunities require hard work, effort and dedication like any other business would.
People are waking up to the opportunities around them and taking full advantage of the technology of today. Starting a business no longer has the barriers of entry it possessed twenty years ago.
I’ve specifically mentioned online business because this is type of business model has SO many advantages over starting a traditional brick and mortar business.
Some interesting points to consider about online business:
- Low startup cost - Online business is very different to traditional brick and mortar businesses. Startup costs are typically significantly lower because you don't need to rent space, buy physical equipment or hire staff.
- Low overheads - This ties into the above point, most online business owners run their business either on their own or with a business partner. There is no need to hire extra staff.
- Location independence - Running an internet business means you only need a working internet connection to be up and running. This removes any geographical ties you would have with traditional jobs and businesses.
- Income potential - Running our own business give you unlimited income potential. The ability for online businesses to scale and use leverage very easily increases income potential even further.
- Data-driven marketing - Tracking software and tools we have available to us have turned marketing into more of a science. In the past, traditional businesses have been unable to measure their marketing, essentially throwing things at a wall to see what sticks.
What type of business can I start?
The best business model to get your start online is definitely affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing allows you to earn an income promoting other people’s products and services. This is perfect for someone who is just starting out because you don’t have to come up with an awesome product.
You can just find one and promote that instead! Affiliate programs come in all shapes and sizes (similar to apprenticeships).
Success is business is largely based on YOU.
That’s why most people fail when they try and start their own business. They lack the guidance and training they need to get results but fundamentally they don’t have the right mindset.
You change your mind, you change your life.
I know it sounds cheesy but it really is true!
How long will it take before I start seeing results?
Again, this is largely based on you.
You can have the best training platform and resources in the world but if you don’t take massive action and be consistent you won’t get any real results.
Our affiliate program teaches you how to shift your mindset from one of an employee to an entrepreneur. It empowers you with the mindsets, digital skills and mentorship you need to achieve those results you REALLY want.
If you’ve always wanted to do something different, be your own boss and learn how to leverage the power of the internet then this could be something for you.