The age-old debate: once teenagers are out of school and starting on the path of forging a career, is it better to seek higher/further education, like college and then university, or just jump straight into the world of work?
There are plenty of pros and cons for either choice, and there are plenty of people out there who are ready to voice their opinions on which is the ‘right’ way to go.
But, at the end of the day, it’s all down to what is best for you, the teenager in question who is about to embark on one of life’s toughest but most worthwhile journeys: becoming an adult.
Nevertheless, it is important to know all of your options so you can make an informed decision on what is in fact best for you as you grow into adulthood.
Choose wisely: Your future is at stake
A lot of young people choose the option of going to university — that’s just facts. In the 2015-16 academic year, there were 2.28 million students studying at UK higher education institutions. For many, it is the first taste of independence and freedom away from home.
So if you find yourself craving the independence of living away at the age of 18, then university is an easy option to go for, what with all the assistance that is given in doing so with many, if not all, higher education institutions offering help to their prospective students in regards to housing, especially in their first year of study.
However, going to university isn’t the only option that is readily available in being able to move out at such a young age.
As you’re probably aware, in the UK, higher apprenticeships and similar school leaver programmes are an alternative to a university that allows you to earn, learn and gain qualifications at the same time.
This means having enough money to finance your own move, whilst still gaining qualifications such as: HNC, HND, foundation degrees or even full degrees, as well as potentially taking vocational qualifications, meaning that it is possible to get into careers that have long been associated with graduates, like IT, engineering, science and finance, among others.
So if learning and earning at the same time is an option that you feel would bring you more security, then, by all means, go do it.
But don’t let money guide your decision too much. For those young people who are scared of the stereotypical financial implications of going to university, which not only include a lack of a stable income but the loan that looms above them at all times, then fear not.
For those with enough initiative and drive to do so, finding employment alongside studies is a viable and easy-to-do option, and making sure to stretch that student loan is also a lot easier than a lot of people think.
And even though it may not feel like it, having a lack of cash may even provide as good a lesson as any of the lectures your attend at university: financial disasters can strike at any time, so it’s important to know how to deal with them.
Another stereotype about going to university is that it may be viewed as being a waste of time due to the nonsensical lectures and activities that are implemented by lecturers, including playing games on your mobile phone.
But for every lecture like this, or for every lecture that is spent goggling at Powerpoint slides and trying to stay awake after last night’s Student Night, there are ones that inspire you, have you transfixed and really do make you want to do your best.
Also, naysayers of the university route like to complain that young people are just flocking to universities every Autumn for a fun time without any real career direction; but you’re only young once, after all.
But if that isn’t your goal for the next few years of your life and you do, genuinely, wish to forge a career pathway for yourself, you can find all the training and extensive teachings you need in your chosen field at university.
There are courses that offer genre-specific lessons with the end-goal being a degree that can be taken into the world of work, which is a way of certifying to any prospective employers that you know what you’re talking about.
This includes higher education courses in Publishing that provide those who enroll on them the chance to learn about the business that is publishing.
On one, you would be likely to learn the fundamentals of how books and magazines are designed and produced to budget and marketed for sale — as well as learning writing and editing skills. And of course, there are a number of Business & Management degrees to take which will stand any graduate of the course in a good standing, regardless of the business that they wish to go into.
But if spending three or more years extra years of your life in education really isn’t for you, but you do feel comfortable with having a teacher and being in an educational environment, there are courses on offer all over the world that provide teachings on key components of modern day life.
Examples of this include: Premiere Pro Training, which offers instructor-led classes on video production; Hairdresser courses for those of you who are budding stylists; and even Bartender School, where you can learn to become a professional bartender.
And of course, there is always the option of shunning all the previously mentioned pathways and going straight into the world of work. Finding a company to work with, that will offer a good pay, is a tantalizing prospect to most, even if it isn’t in a field of work that has ever really fascinated them before. But you never know until you try it, right?
You may start off on a basic salary, but working hard and remaining employed by the company when you hit the age milestones of 18, 21 and then 25 will mean you are lawfully entitled to rises.
For those who work extra hard, rises in wage are always awarded to those that deserve it. If even this doesn’t interest you, you could do it all yourself by starting your own business.
Before you shun this idea completely, why not think about it? You have to know your goal — why are you doing this? You must always listen to your heart — what idea makes it flutter every time you think about it? But make sure to do the market research — where can your little idea fit into the big, wide world that it will be entering?
Utilise your USP — how best can your idea’s unique selling point be used as a tool to wedge itself firmly in the gap you’ve identified? But never, ever lose sight of the original goal — when you are in a position to do so, operate using the 80:20 rule: 80% working on your product, 20% marketing it.
The simple answer to the age-old debate is this: there is no best place to learn about the world of work or life and all young people should do what makes them happy. Whether that means earning as much money as possible as soon as possible, or delaying their financial earnings for a few years whilst they study in the hope that they’ll benefit from it later in life.
Following that gut instinct is what is best for you, not what other people tell you to do. No matter what you decide to do with life, however, things are going to change, so there is no point planning too much for tomorrow when today is all that you currently can count on.
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