University is not for me – what can I do?

If you are thinking “university is not for me” the good news is that you have plenty of options. Today, the decision to go to university needs careful consideration with the average student leaving with debts of £45,000. Entrepreneur Steven Bartlett, of Dragon’s Den fame, left university after just one lecture after realising it was not an environment where he would thrive.

For some people university remains a worthwhile investment, but it is not for everyone – and it is certainly not the only route to success. Here we look at some alternatives you could explore if you think university may not be the place for you.

University is not for me – your options


Apprenticeships give you the chance to learn real world skills that are prized by employers. With an apprenticeship you will spend some time studying at a college, university or online and the rest of the time in a workplace. You will be paid a salary and receive all the benefits of being an employee, such as annual leave and sick pay entitlements.

When you finish an apprenticeship you will have an industry-recognised qualification, plus an understanding of the world of work.

There are plenty of industries that offer apprenticeships including science, engineering and medicine.


Internships are basically work experience placements. An internship is for a fixed length of time and you may or may not be paid. An internship can provide valuable work experience and help you to decide whether a certain industry is right for you.

If a company will not pay you for an internship, then you need to think carefully about whether it is worth it for your employment prospects. Internships that do not pay automatically exclude people who cannot afford to live without a wage for several weeks or juggle another job with existing commitments.

To find an internship, you could contact a company directly, search the Government website or an employment website such as Prospects.

Start work

You might be able to get a job in your chosen field with just your GCSEs or A Levels. Type ‘school leavers jobs’ followed by your town into a search engine to find opportunities. Apart from the financial advantages, you will get a head start in your career if you decide to work straightaway.

If you don’t yet know what you would like to do, another option is to get a convenient job while you think. Have a look at your local job webpages to find vacancies. If you choose, you could study as you work (see below).

Other courses

Today we really do have the world of learning at our fingertips. If you think “university is not for me” but you enjoy studying, there are so many choices available to you.

Distance learning

Open University. You can study a degree online and fit is around a job or other commitments. The Open University offer a huge range of courses and you won’t come away with thousands of pounds of debt.

Distance Learning Centre. They offer GCSEs and A Levels as well as industry-specific courses such as IT qualifications, business courses and counselling diplomas.

British Academy of Fashion and Design. If you want to be a fashion designer, you can gain industry-recognised qualifications through distance study.

If there is a particular subject you are interested in studying, just type it into a search engine followed by ‘distance learning uk’ or ‘online courses uk’.  For example, if you type ‘marketing online courses uk’ into a search engine, the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing course appears.

Further education colleges

Further education colleges offer a huge range of courses and apprenticeships for people aged 16+. This includes T Levels which are practical qualifications that have been designed in partnership with employers.

Find your local further education college website and see if they offer anything that interests you.

Evening classes

Evening classes are perfect for those who work during the day or have family commitments. You can study for academic qualifications or gain practical skills and qualifications.

Find classes near you through the Find Courses website, or simply type ‘evening classes’ followed by your town into a search engine.

Gap year travel

A gap year (as long as it is constructive and not just a holiday) can offer you valuable lifelong skills and breathing space to consider your options. Here are some ideas of ways to spend your gap year. You may be able to work as you travel to survive financially.

If you are interested in travelling for your gap year, we recommend that you start by reading the Government’s website to explore your options and the practicalities involved.

Talk to TutorMyKids

If you know the career path you want to take, but your GCSE or A-Level qualifications are limiting your options, please talk to us. Our experienced, highly-qualified tutors can help you achieve the results you need to take your next exciting step.

Please contact us today