Choosing a course at 18

Is Higher Education my only option for study after 18?

Choosing a course at 18 Further Education colleges will offer a wide range of part and full time courses. You will be able to study more subjects at GSCE, AS or A level. There are also a wide range of vocational courses at college. Vocational courses are courses that are directed at a particular job sector for example Leisure and Tourism, Engineering or Health Care. 
Check out your local college web site. Colleges often run a series of open or information days throughout the year and details will be on their web sites.
Apprenticeships are also an excellent way to further your learning. There is a need for technician level workers in many industries. This means that apprentices need to study for high level qualifications.   You can check out apprenticeship vacancies on our web site. 

What are the advantages of going on to University at 18

Staying in education after the age of 18 can involve a big financial investment.  It is important to consider why you want to study at this level.
These could include -

  • To improve your career prospects. There are no guarantees but statistics show that graduates may earn more than those without a HE qualification.
  • To qualify for particular jobs.  You will need a degree in order to enter some career areas. You can check entry requirements on the Job Information section of our site
  • To study a subject, or combination of subjects you enjoy
  • To develop work related skills. The whole process of getting a degree or equivalent can develop skills that employers want.

I want to go to university – how do I choose a course?

Your personal circumstances and stage in life will influence your decision about what course and where you can and want to study.  One of the main reasons for people dropping out of university is that they did not find out enough about the course before applying. 
These top tips can help you make an informed choice:

  • Check entry requirements carefully.  Some courses require specific subjects and grades for entry.  You may also be asked for other relevant skills, personal qualities and/or work experience.  The UCAS Course Search provides details of entry requirements and links to web sites.
  • Check the content of courses carefully.  Many courses with similar titles can be very different in terms of content. Study methods at different colleges or universities will also vary.  Even if you have studied a subject before, at school or college, make sure you do your research.
  • Do you have a job or career in mind? Some professions require specific subjects to be studied at higher education level so research this information carefully. You can find information in our careers information section.
  • Some courses and universities may require admissions tests.  Check the UCAS website for up to date details of which course’s require additional tests and check also in UCAS entry profiles and individual prospectuses.
  • What you want to do after the course?  Employability Profiles are linked to the UCAS course search.  These list the skills you will be likely to gain during your course which will be of interest to employers.
  • Compare different subjects at different universities and colleges before applying. You can use the Unistats website and look at student satisfaction ratings from the National Student Survey. You will also find it useful to explore the figures about getting a graduate job after completing a course. Unistats
  • Higher education guides and league tables often compare courses but do be aware of bias.  Check out The Guardian University GuideThe Complete University Guide and The Times Good University Guide (you'll need to subscribe to the site).
  • Find out if there are any higher education conventions in your area by looking at UCAS Events.  These events will give you the opportunity to talk with staff from many universities and colleges. You will also find other organisation at these events e.g. Gap year, student finance and careers advisers.
  • Attend some open days or taster days at universities and colleges to meet with staff and students. It’s a good way to get a feel for a course and institution before applying. UCAS Open Days

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