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When you reach 18 there are many options you may wish to consider. You could go on to university, full or part-time employment, or other means of study and training. Don’t forget, it’s never too late (or too early) to start looking into the options available to you.
Take a quick glance at our table below (click to enlarge) to see what you might like to do, then read on for more information.
If you are thinking about going to university, you’ll need to know about the application process and an organisation called UCAS too!
The Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (called UCAS for short) is the organisation in charge of almost all applications for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at UK universities and colleges.
If you want to study towards a degree you submit a single application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses (there’s no order of preference).
All five choices are ‘confidential’ during the application process and universities and colleges considering an application cannot see any of your other choices. Applications must be completed by the middle of the January of the year that you wish to start university.
Once you have applied, the offers that you get will either be conditional, i.e. dependent on future examination performance, or unconditional. Once you have received responses from all the institutions you applied to, they must respond by accepting up to two choices, one Firm Acceptance and one Insurance Acceptance, whereas the remainder are Declined.
There are only 4 possible offer combinations:
1. UF (Unconditional Firm, no Insurance offer)
2. CF (Conditional Firm, no Insurance offer)
3. CF + UI (Conditional Firm + Unconditional Insurance)
4. CF + CI (Conditional Firm + Conditional Insurance)
For more information on how to apply to University, head over to our Higher Education section.
There is also an annual UCAS Higher Education Fair at the end of June. Be sure to check our News and Events section for more info around that time.
Taking a gap year can be a really useful experience for a lot of people. You can have some life-changing experiences, travel the world or pick up new skills. It’s also a great opportunity for you to focus on the sort of job, career or lifestyle you want, but it does take planning and organisation.
Here are some important things to remember:
It’s important you consider you’re UCAS application now even if you wish to go to university after your Gap year. You can either defer your entry – meaning you apply at the end of sixth form or college, or you can apply a year later, though you may need to be available for open days or interviews throughout the year.
If you want to get an idea of what’s involved when applying to study a degree, or you have just finished a gap year and want to apply, read through our Higher Education section and learn How to Apply.
There are many organisations out there who can help you plan a gap year, but they often charge a fee and/or expect you to pay for your own travel. Try some of these websites for more info:
Year Out Group
Raleigh (deals with international expeditions)
Bunac (work placements abroad)
If you are taking a gap year, most universities and/or employers will look more favourably on your application or CV if it contains voluntary experience. This shows you are committed to working hard and gaining skills and knowledge.
Check out our volunteering section for more information.
Apprenticeships are a way for you to gain valuable skills in your chosen subject area while also gaining experience in the workplace. An Apprenticeship could be the right option for you if you are looking for a job that enables you to carry on learning, or are already in employment and want to gain further qualifications.
There are two different levels of Apprenticeship – which are equivalent to other qualifications:
The two levels are:
• Apprenticeships – Level 2 (equivalent to ﬁve good GCSE passes)
• Advanced Apprenticeships – Level 3 (equivalent to two A level passes)
It’s also possible to move on to a Foundation degree after completing your Advanced Apprenticeship. Find out more about types of degrees in the Types of Higher Education section.
See which Apprenticeships are available locally on the Apply Sheffield website. You can use the search function to look through the different opportunities in the subject areas you are interested in.
Plenty more information is available on the national Apprenticeship website. If you decide not to study locally, this site also features the Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service, which looks at opportunities available across the UK.
The Aim Higher site is really useful for people looking to study locally (in South Yorkshire). It includes loads of useful information if you are looking to go into higher education, including:
• Why go to university?
• What to study and where
• Managing your money
• Links to university/college open days
Aim Higher South Yorkshire website
A student-only discussion forum run by UCAS. Here you can get first-hand accounts on courses, universities and colleges from students who have actually experienced them. Remember though, these are other people’s opinions – so it’s still really important to make your own mind up and decide what is best for you.
A graduate information site, much of the information is equally useful to someone considering higher education. Includes:
• Options with your subject
• How much could I earn?
• What do graduates do? – Extensive info on the graduate labour market, both general and by degree subject
• Interactive services, e.g. career ideas generator, email a careers consultant, CV helps, search for jobs, webchat (must register and pay fee for some of these)
There’s also plenty of useful information about university and applications in our Higher Education section.