University isn’t for everyone – and if you find yourself pondering other options, that’s totally a-ok, because there’s an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that just because you go to Higher Education doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily nab the career of your dreams.

Last year, although the unemployment rate for graduates dropped to the lowest rate since 1989, at 5.3 percent, UCAS revealed the number of people applying to higher education in the same year also fell substantially – in England by 6%, from Northern Ireland by 5%, from Scotland by 2% and from Wales by 7%.

University can be great, but if you’re undecided or want to change your plans, here are 5 other options that will excite you…

Be your own boss

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Of course there are risks involved, but the pay-off to making your own business a success is huge – and we aren’t just talking about the dosh. You’ll be paying yourself a salary but you’ll also have the freedom of shaping your own career by being in control of how you spend each day at work. The dream!

Ok we might be getting ahead of ourselves, so check out  The Prince’s Trust who give advice and grants to young people with big ideas, as well as our latest funding cohort, as we’re providing up to £500 to anyone with a big, community-focused, digital idea, too.

Work abroad

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Working abroad can be an excellent way to gain insight into your chosen field whilst exploring a new culture or way of living. We rounded up 10 amazing jobs you can do whilst travelling, and we also got one writer to reveal seven ways you can make the most of your gap year job.  Working abroad can consist of volunteering, teaching, office roles, being a digital nomad and more. There are so many options!

Short courses

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If the idea of committing to a whopping three years at Uni scares you senseless, you could consider a shorter course, which leaves the door to offical higher education open whilst still equipping you with some qualifications for the world of work.

For example, a Higher National Diploma (HND) is a qualification which is studied over two years and can be ‘topped-up’ into a degree if your marks are high enough.  Similarly a foundation degree requires typically lower grades to gain a place qualifications and can also be ‘topped up’ to a full degree (not necessarily at the same university) later on. Check the University of Westminster’s page for an idea of the kind of short courses you can get.

Work your way up

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With a lot of focus and determination, you could climb the career ladder in your chosen field quicker than your Uni-educated counterparts. There’s no guarantee of this of course, and it depends on what you want to work as (and how hard!), but scoring a job straight after school or college is possible. Try and get an entry level job in a company, or within a sector you’re really interested in if you’re passionate about what you do, it will be easier to move up the ranks more quickly! Hear from someone who did it.


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Apprenticeships are a great way to learn and earn in a professional environment. You’ll get a qualification at the end of it, and often a job offer. Plus, there’s loads of options available to suit all interests and skillsets, from practical courses to professional ones.

You can do an apprenticeship at any age; government research shows that people aged 25 and over accounted for 46% of apprenticeship starts in 2016/17 with those aged 19-24 accounting for 29% and those aged under 19, 25%. Check all the opportunities on our page, as well the website and Find Apprenticeships.

Still unsure about ditching that application? Here are some successful celebs who never went to Uni…

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Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard but later got an honorary degree.

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to work full time on Facebook.

Yoko Ono dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College.

Pablo Picasso dropped out of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

Woody Allen was thrown out of New York University after one term and later dropped out of the City College of New York.

Coco Chanel dropped out of school to become a cabaret singer when she was 18.


Like this? How about…

Why dropping out of Uni doesn’t mean you’ve failed

8 Things We Wish We’d Known Before Starting Uni

Not Going To Uni? Here’s How To Find A Job Using LinkedIn