YOU’RE aged between 16 and 18 and are being asked to answer one vital question: What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
Many teenagers have no clue what they want for their dinner, let alone their career.
It can be a very stressful period, between exams, revision, social and family life, you also have to consider where you want to be in another 20 years’ time.
Here’s what I would do, whatever your feelings.
If you know exactly what you want to do, you’ll have to do a lot of research to give you the best chances to get where you want to be.
If it’s something that goes through universities, look at which ones have the best and most interactive courses, which ones will most interest you, and ones which give you plenty of work and travel experience.
They will be the ones that you thrive in.
It might be something you can do through college or apprenticeships, which is a lot cheaper than forking out £9,000 a year, gives you a lot more flexibility, and can sometimes see you paid up to £100 a week, with still the opportunities for a subsidised degree course later on.
On the other hand, if you’re completely unsure, college is an amazing opportunity for you to try new things and just study what you enjoy. It also gives you another couple of years before you decide what you want to do.
College doesn’t have to stop at 18, many stay on while you have the availability for free education.
Vocational courses can also give you amazing experience for while you’re learning, many of them being on placements.
They offer a good opportunity to get your foot in the door and if you want to only study one thing, these courses can still lead to universities.
Apprenticeships are amazing if you’re concerned about funding — there are loads on offer, and new ones come out every year, even places such as ITV now have apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships also lead to NVQ qualifications, and in some working fields, you can end up in the same position as someone who went to university, but you haven’t ended up with debt.
Details can be found online in big organisations, but you can also go into the local Source training centres and through the careers advisory teams at schools and colleges.
Work experience is certainly worth pursuing.
Any kind of experience adds to your CV, and if you can build that up by the time you need full time employment, you’ll really stand out.
Work experience is usually unpaid, but you don’t have to sacrifice time and money. For example, some charity shops need someone for just one day a week.
This is also an opportunity to see if your chosen occupation is something you can really see yourself doing, ask local businesses in your chosen field to see if they could accommodate you.
Larger businesses tend to have a work experience programme, and if you’re good, it can lead to a paid job.
A final word of advice: There is a myth that university is a lot easier than A Levels.
For the most part, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are still essays, exams and deadlines, only this time, you aren’t guided as much by tutors, and you’re left completely on your own.
Don’t ever go to a university for the simple reason that you just want to experience it, wait until the right course comes along, until you find the perfect one for you.
There’s no point in spending £27,000 or more on a degree you don’t enjoy.