A levels: What next if you don’t go to University?

by Grace Dickins

Not everyone goes to university and whether you haven't got the grades or aren't sure what to do now you've finished school there are plenty of options. To help you reach a decision we have compiled a list of some alternatives.


If you already know what job you want to do and there isn't a specific degree for it then why not look into an apprenticeship. For example, due to a lack of engineers, many companies are recruiting apprentices to fill the gap. Not only do engineers have some of the best paid jobs, but training on the job means you are being paid to learn! The government website has some great information.



There's absolutely nothing wrong with going straight into work. Everyone has to start somewhere and those who aren't well off may not have a choice but to go into work in order to support themselves. This doesn't necessarily mean they are at any less of a disadvantage. Employers should always be asked if they have any qualifications that can be gained on the job. If you later decide to change jobs these will provide concrete evidence that you gained skills.

Gap year

The traditional option taken by those who want to defer university for a year or just need to let off some steam after the stress of exams a gap year has never lost its appeal. If it is your first time abroad on your own we would recommend going with a friend and travelling with an ATOL and/or ABTA travel agency. This means if anything goes wrong you always have someone familiar nearby and are safe in the knowledge that the company is trusted. Gap years provide the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone so remember to have fun and stay safe! You have an amazing opportunity to explore the world. Parents do read on here if you aren't sure what to expect.


Study from home

Often combined with work in the daytime, studying from home in the evening can help you gain qualifications whilst earning. Before embarking on a distance learning course do check the provider is certified. You don't want to end up in the position of those who have undertaken courses with Learndirect. Think critically about whether the course structure will give you the skills and knowledge you want for your dream job. There's nothing worse than ending up with an expensive, useless piece of paper.

Foundation degrees

Another option to consider is a foundation degree. If you have an eye on a particular university degree, but don't have the grades these can be the perfect option. Offered by universities and colleges these help bring your knowledge up to speed and passing one of these mean you are in with a real chance of being accepted on to your chosen degree course. You will normally be assigned a tutor to help support your studies and their knowledge can be invaluable.