Lots of people assume that once you finish high school, your next move will be to head off to university. And while this is a great goal to aim for, sometimes it just doesn’t seem possible. There are lots of reasons for this, including:
- You didn’t get the results you needed
- You missed a prerequisite subject
- You need to move a long way to follow your dream and you’re not ready for that yet
- You’ve had enough of study for now and want a break
And whether you’re concerned your grades won’t get you into your preferred course or you don’t even want to go to uni, there are plenty of options out there to suit you.
Alternative pathways into university
Universities want you to attend (they’re a business at the end of the day, and more students means more income). So if you’ve chosen a course you really like – or a uni you really want to go to – check their website for alternative pathways they might offer. These often include things like:
- Bridging courses
- Enabling courses
- Portfolio entry
- Preparation programs
- Special admissions tests
Most universities offer lots of different alternative pathway options, and you could be studying towards your preferred degree in no time at all. Most pathways involve a bit of extra work, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
I don’t want to go to uni – what now?
Alternative pathways aren’t just limited to university. You could apply for a job straight out of school, get lots of experience, and work your way up the career ladder. It’s not an easy route by any means, but if it’s an option for the career of your choice, you’ll start earning straight away and be pursuing the job you wanted.
There are still lots of different jobs out there where tertiary education isn’t a requirement. As long as you meet the job requirements and nail your interview, you could be embarking on a career within months of leaving school.
Plus, many universities offer what are known as “experience based” pathways – so if you ever change your mind, you can use your work experience to study down the track.
There are literally thousands of vocational qualifications available, delivering workplace-specific knowledge and skills across lots of careers and industries. You can study anything from trades, business, design, retail, or hospitality, to tourism, arts, engineering, or technology. Like universities, many institutions offer both in-class and online study options.
The great thing about vocational qualifications is that most of them have very low (or even no) entry requirements, so you don’t need to stress about your grades. And once you’ve finished your course, you could even use your qualification as a pathway to further study at uni. Or you might find a vocational qualification is all you need to start your dream job.
Narrow down your options by deciding an area you’d like to study. Search for courses that meet your requirements and then refine by location. It’s always worth checking if you’re eligible for any scholarships, grants, or additional funding that can cover some or all of your costs too.
Apprenticeships, traineeships, and cadetships
These are all a great way to kick off a career. Open to nearly everyone with very few barriers, apprentices and trainees are employed directly through an employer and you start earning while you learn.
Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, you’ll have both a qualification and lots of work experience. A lot of the time employers choose to keep apprentices and trainees on in full-time roles after their studies are finished.
Cadetships are similar to apprenticeships – employers offer a combination of industry-specific training and work experience. They’re most commonly offered by government departments and private companies. Just bear in mind that many cadetships have higher entry requirements and can be competitive.
It’s your choice
Finding out more about all the alternative pathways into a career that you want can open lots of doors. You might find the perfect pathway that you didn’t even know existed.
If you’re indecisive and still aren’t sure what you’d like to do, then finding out what alternative options are available could help you decide which step to take. It could also inspire you to explore careers you’ve never considered before.
And don’t worry about being “too old” or “too late” – people of all ages study and change careers at multiple points in their lives, from 18 to 80.
You can learn more about alternative pathways here.