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Options at 17/18

Are you ready to take your next step?   

Think about how you made your decisions in year 11?  Was your sixth form or college course what you expected?  Did you know enough about it before you started?  What do you wish you had known beforehand?  Learn from this process as you make your next set of decisions. 

Things to think about: 

  • Are you aiming for a particular career?   
  • Do you know how to get there?   
  • Is there more than one route? 
  • Have you got the right qualifications? 
  • Do you require more experience? 
  • Have you really checked out what is involved and whether it will suit you? 
  • Have you looked at related areas? 
  • Have you got a back-up plan? 
  • Are you considering university but aren’t sure whether it’s the right route for you? 
  • Keep your options open, it’s fine to apply for more than one thing. 


Going to university will open up a huge range of career opportunities. For many jobs a degree is a requirement. It is however a huge financial commitment so be sure to do your research.  Be clear about what you want from the course and just where it could take you.  Link  


An apprenticeship is a job with training.  Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries and job roles.  There’s no age limit and you can gain university level qualifications whilst you work and earn. Link  

School Leaver Schemes

Some employers have their own training schemes where you take professional exams relevant to the industry.  These can be excellent but do check that you will earn nationally recognised qualifications.  Link  

Voluntary Work 

Voluntary work can be a great way of gaining new skills, exploring possible career areas and demonstrating commitment to future employers.  You’ll meet new people and make a real difference to charities and those who depend on them. Link  

Gap Year 

Lots of people take a gap year before starting university.  You could travel; earn money; have fun. 

But that’s not the only reason to take a gap year.  If you’re applying for a highly competitive course and don’t get in the first time around, use the year to gain relevant experience. Seek help and advice for your second application and increase your chances of success. 

Gap years can also lead to work.  If you’re really unsure what to do next you could use the time to do work experience/work shadowing, sampling different jobs before you make a final decision.  You could also carry out voluntary work, improving your skills and conducting further research into career and university courses alike.  Link  

Remember though, whatever you do next, you can always change direction later.