Alternatives to university
Spending three years on a degree course isn't the only option.
Apprenticeships (the best of both worlds):
You can learn while you are doing the job, which means you get money and qualifications (usually an NVQ). You can do a modern apprenticeship in a wide range of trades from agriculture to beauty, leisure to media. If you're aged between 16 and 24, here's how to find out more about apprenticeships.
You don't have to do a degree to get a head start in the world of work. Instead why not do an intensive course specific to your chosen field? Don't fall for the expensive get-rich-quick courses in the back of the newspaper though. Go for industry-recognised ones. Pop into your local careers centre who should have course listings for the area and advice on the best choice for you.
Start your own business
Do you have a great business idea but don't know how to get started? Why not get in touch with the Prince's Trust or Livewire and get advice on how to do it. They also offer grants and loans if you are unemployed/disadvantaged and under 30. Check out our section on being self employed for more inspiration and advice.
Start at the bottom
Take a job as office junior, runner, tea boy or girl, or post room worker within the industry you want to work in. Work hard, network as often as possible and show that you have what it takes to move up that ladder without dissing the job you already have. If you are the bright spark you think you are there should be no reason why you can't make it to the top.
One word of warning though, if you feel you are in a dead-end job and promises of development/training have not materialised despite reminding your boss, it may be time to look for something else.
The option to study long-distance
You can get a degree while you work with the Open University. It will take longer, cost a little more and leave it mostly up to you to get the work done, but it can be the perfect solution; allowing you to work your normal job and get a new qualification. Plus you should be able to ask for a pay rise when you graduate.
The fact of the matter is if you fail to get where you want using the above methods you can always go back to college or university later on in life. To find out about applying look at the UCAS site.
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