So you want to continue your education after school but A Levels just don’t appeal... what can you do instead?

There are loads of alternative paths you can follow, all of which lead to more qualifications, more skills and in some cases a University degree. Here are five of your best options:

#1 National Vocational Qualification (or SVQ in Scotland)

NVQ’s are vocational, work-based awards. You’re trained and tested on your competency in the work place, rather than your academic skill.

NVQ's are a fantastic route for people who may have struggled at a secondary level. Just five GCSE's D-E are required in certain circumstances, meaning this type of qualification is open to helping you find your full potential in a working environment.

You must be employed to take on an NVQ. If you are currently unemployed there are other options such as progression awards which stand as an equivalent.

If you decide you do want to attend university after you’ve gained your NVQ, you’re in luck! While each university set their own admission requirements, many do accept NVQs as an alternative to A-levels.

For more info visit the City and Guilds website:

#2 Apprenticeships

The good ol' apprenticeship has been giving millions of individuals their first step onto the career ladder for decades. While this alternative to college won’t grant you a place at university, it will give you invaluable work experience and first-hand knowledge in your chosen field.

Available across lots of industries, apprenticeships are even available in creative sectors such as broadcasting, media and production. An apprenticeship is suitable for school-leavers wanting to start their career early.

Find out more about apprenticeships at the government's apprenticeship website, and search for apprenticeship vacancies at their find an apprenticeship service


You don’t fancy college but you like a challenge and still want to go on to university when you're ready. What do you do? A BTEC!

The major difference between A-levels and BTECs is the latter is 100% coursework assessed. That’s right, no exams! While that may sound a little daunting, it is actually a really flexible (and arguably less stressful) way of achieving higher education grades.

Speaking from first-hand experience (ex-photography student over here), a BTEC is a much more creative way of flexing your academic muscles and increasing those key skills. And with over 2000 BTEC courses available you’re truly spoilt for choice.

4# Advanced Diploma Qualification

The advanced Diploma qualification is most appropriate if you are certain you want to go to university. Relatively new in terms of translating to UCAS points, an ADQ takes two years and entry requirements include proven English, Maths and IT skills.

Combining practical and theoretical learning this type of higher education includes courses such as Hair and Beauty Studies, Retail Business and Travel and Tourism.

5# International Baccalaureate

No, I can't pronounce it either. However, the International Baccalaureate is highly regarded and if you have one university admissions officers are likely to be very impressed.

Over 100 schools and colleges in the UK offer this type of higher education and it’s available in many countries around the world. Did someone say travelling AND learning at the same time? Count me in!

The Baccalaureate offers traditional courses including Science, Applied Languages and Geography. Combining six units which result in 24 credits and a possible place at university, an IB is an excellent choice if you want to take a subject you love further.

Learn more:

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