Post A Level Choices

What are your choices post A level? University, gap year, work, apprenticeship and further education are the main options. What is important is that you make an informed decision and don’t drift into an unplanned future. The summer break between Year 12 and Year 13 is an ideal time to investigate these choices. Don’t be tempted to spend the whole summer just earning money. Future employers and universities will want to see that you have developed personally, not just financially.

University

The vast majority of QEGS students move on to University either in the UK or abroad. There are several benefits to undertaking a university degree including employment and starting salary. The prospect of being able to study a subject you are enthusiastic about to a much higher level is also exciting.

However, these benefits need to be carefully weighed against the cost of a university education and as such we recommend that students research fully the courses and institutions they are thinking about applying to. The key websites to consider are:

www.ucas.co.uk

www.prospects.ac.uk

www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk

Gap Year

You need to research attitudes to gap years at your prospective university; in some departments (mostly mathematics and sciences), gap years at 18 are frowned upon as academic staff think it takes too long for students to return to an  effective learning routine. Others think the gap year experience is of benefit to a student’s maturity and commitment level. To make the most of a gap year, it’s really important to investigate and plan so that you stay safe, (be sure to have adequate insurance) but have plenty of opportunities to develop your skills and interests. Be aware that most companies charge significant sums of money to organise this experience for you. What some companies offer amounts to little more than an expensive holiday, whilst others offer worthwhile character forming experiences. Two useful websites are:

www.projects-abroad.co.uk  

www.aventure.co.uk

If you intend to take a gap year after A levels, think about when to apply for university. The main advantage of applying in the autumn of Year 13 along with everyone else, and making a deferred entry, is that the entire form filling process is completed whilst you have access to advice and support from school staff. If you delay your application, the advantage is that you will have your A Level results and should get a quicker response from the universities.

Work

Local employers can offer opportunities, some with training attached, which can lead to further qualifications, some as high as degree level. If this option is of interest to you, be proactive; read the local and national press. Write to local employers to express your interest, as some companies don’t advertise opportunities. You will need to compile a high quality c.v. (curriculum vitae) in support of your application letters. The Heads of Sixth Form will be able to help you through the process.

Work Experience and Volunteering

This is an invaluable way to discover if a career is right for you. It will also give you skills that will impress employers and university admission officers. We have a volunteering week within Year 12 that allows students to access these experiences and there is also the opportunity for students to use their free periods to volunteer. Students often go to local primary schools, law firms and medical practices. The school works hard to be as flexible as possible in supporting students wanting to gain work experience during school time.

Further Education

This is any education offered post 16 and which is not normally of degree level. However, some courses may give you access to Foundation Degrees. For  example, Newton Rigg and Kendal College offer a range of courses from basic  literacy up to degree level. Predominantly, F.E. courses are vocational and the  following areas are usually available; Health and Social Care, Child Care,  Catering, Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, Motor Vehicles, Construction, IT,  Engineering, Art and Design and Travel and Tourism. Remember to research your area of interest as different colleges have different courses on offer.

In terms of finance, you should be aware of the following;

  • If you start a Further Education course before  the age of 19, it is free providing it is full time (involving a minimum of 450 hours of study per year). After the age of 19, fees will be charged.
  • Student loans are not available for F.E. students unless studying on a degree course.
  • A useful website to consult is www.moneysavingexpert.com/students-family/
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