Not going to uni: What to do instead

Decided you’re not going to uni? Wondering what to do instead? You have options!

Whether you’ve decided you want to avoid student debt, take a break from education or kick-start your career, there is an extensive range of opportunities available! Not going to uni isn’t the be-all and end-all. University isn’t the right route for everyone and there’s a whole world of options!

We’ve put together a list of alternatives for if you’re not going to uni:

Gap year

Decided against university right now? Confused about what you want to do? A gap year is a great way to take a break from education while deciding what you want to do next. If chosen wisely a gap year can be constructive. It can improve your future career prospects and chances of getting into university – if you decide after that’s what you want to do.

A gap year can include travelling, volunteering or working abroad. It’s a way that you can gain work experience or understand a new culture. A gap year also shows that you’re independent and responsible. To apply for a gap year visit:

young people travelling in nature


Are you eager to enter the world of work? Is full-time study not for you? An apprenticeship could be the right route for your career goals. As an apprentice, your learning will be work-based combined with part-time study. Furthermore, during your apprenticeship, you will gain work experience, in-demand skills and a professional qualification.

There’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are only for trades but this isn’t true. Apprenticeships cover a range of job roles, for instance, midwifery, accounting, engineering, aviation, hair and beauty. There really is something for everyone!

two men at work

School leaver programmes

School leaver programmes aren’t all the same. They often vary depending on the employer and can last between three and seven years. Not going to uni and doing a school leaver programme instead is an excellent way for you to gain qualifications while working and getting paid.

School leaver programmes are a popular choice for young people leaving school or college after GCSEs and A-Levels. They are offered across a wide range of industries, for instance, business administration, IT, retail and engineering.

male worker using a computer at work


Do you want your CV to stand out from the crowd? Internships and traineeships are a great way for you to give your CV a boost. An internship and traineeship will enable you to gain practical work experience and training. In addition, they also provide vital work preparation skills and typically last between 6 weeks to 6 months.

Internships and traineeships are a popular choice and can lead to you securing a job or apprenticeship.

internships at work holding book


Volunteering is extremely rewarding, however, it’s important to take into consideration that you won’t be paid as a volunteer but you may get your expenses paid for. As a volunteer, you’ll be making a positive difference to the lives of others. You could be volunteering abroad or at a charity. For instance, some charities you could work for include:

Watch this video to find out what it’s like volunteering:

Professional qualifications

You don’t have to go to university to gain professional qualifications. You can improve your employability prospects by doing a course. This could be at college or online.

A course relevant to an industry you’re keen to pursue a career in is a fantastic way to build your knowledge and skills. Courses are offered part-time and full-time depending on your personal preference.

young students studying with books

Not going to uni: the decision is in your hands

Deciding what to do next after school or college can be daunting. In addition to this, you have the added pressure of your peers all knowing what they want to do but you don’t. You now know what options are available to you outside of university, therefore, it’s time to decide what’s best for you! Don’t follow the crowd but instead, make a decision based on what you want to do!

Search for the perfect route for you! View alternatives to going to university.

References: British Heart Foundation video

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