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Post 18 Options

If you're looking at your post 18 options, it usually means:

  • You’ve finished your last A-level exam
  • You’ve completed your college course
  • Your apprenticeship is ending soon

What choice is next? Is it either university or a job?

If this sounds like you, the great news is, there are a wide variety of options you can choose from.

One of the options is studying at university.

Don’t worry if you’ve only just decided this is for you, and you haven’t applied for a university place.

Clearing is a great last minute opportunity. At university you study degree level programmes in the subject of your choice, gaining a higher education qualification after 3 years which is very highly regarded by employers.

Statistics show that as a university graduate you earn up to £12,000 more a year than your non graduate peers which equates to more than £500,000 over a life time.  Our definitive University Guide is essential reading.

Alternatively if you feel you need a break from studying, a gap year abroad could be the answer.

To you, a gap year maybe all about travelling around the world for 12 months on your own or with a friend, soaking up different cultures and customs. This is an awesome experience, but other gap year options include:

You can also combine this with A-level retakes if your results weren’t what you imagined and you didn’t go through Clearing. Find out more with our Gap Year Guide.

Finding a job and earning money is always a route that’s open and if you can find an employer that also offers you training while you work, that’s even better.

Many sectors are willing to consider you for jobs without a degree and some e.g. civil service, accountancy and engineering do focus on A-level (or equivalent) leavers.

Further good news is that the police, army, navy, air-force and the emergency services as well as the care and hospitality sectors, need a minimum age of 18 for many of their job openings. Our Finding A Job After School section has more creative ideas for you.

Have you developed an entrepreneurial spirit? Starting your own business can be an immensely rewarding experience.

If you have a great idea, want to develop it into a product/service that you can sell, and are motivated by challenge and learning skills and knowledge, this could be your answer.

Being your own boss can be a great reward in its own right but you will really need to put the hours in to get your business up and running.

Princes Trust and your local LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) are two organisations offering grants, mentoring and support to young people wanting to start their own business.

We also have our own handy hints and tips to get you started in our Enterprise section.

Degree programmes are not the only higher level education option available.

If you’re more vocationally minded and considering construction, engineering or hospitality management (to name but as a few) as a career a higher apprenticeship could start that career journey for you.

They are a real alternative to university as they offer training up to degree level, both on and off the job, a great salary and the opportunity to progress your career without paying hefty tuition fees or running up student debts. 

The apprenticeship guide in collaboration with the Sector Skills Councils offers in-depth advice and guidance, as does Studential’s Apprenticeships Guide.

The top professional services firms e.g. PWC and KPMG offer school and college leaver programmes where you join the company as an employee, they pay you a good salary (can be up to £20,000 if in London), on top of which they pay all your tuition and accommodation fees for your accountancy degree and guarantee you a permanent position after you complete your degree.

Despite the long hours and very hard work you’ll have to put in as you’ll be working and studying at the same time, the limited places are hotly contested.

Whatever you decide is your next step, take time to consider your options and talk it over with family and friends.

Ultimately it’s your decision, so choose the one you know you’ll be happiest at and will also help you advance your career plans.