Many pupils go to University because these days it is harder to obtain a good job without a degree, and harder to achieve promotion in later life without one. Furthermore, the opportunity to study a subject (or subjects) you enjoy for three or four more years, in the company of like-minded people, is an attractive proposition to most intelligent young men and women.
Although there are some notable exceptions, in general a graduate will have a more successful and fulfilling career path than a non-graduate, especially as nowadays Higher Education places are available to over 30% of the school-leaving population.
Once you have made up your mind that you are heading towards some kind of Higher Education you will have to set about
choosing the best course for your ability and interest
choosing the 5 or 6 universities which suit you best
deciding whether to take a year out between school and university
applying for sponsorship
doing a "sandwich" course
In particular circumstances, other possibilities arise. Some pupils may need to consider the option of re-sitting A2-levels while others may feel the need to postpone their decisions by taking temporary employment for a year or so. Each year, one or two leavers decide that their future would be served best by taking permanent employment, normally in an organisation which has well-established managerial training programmes. It is not unknown for such individuals to enter university at a later date, as "mature students".
The Basis for Decision Making
In deciding between the alternatives available, it is obviously sensible to have some idea of what you can reasonably expect to be able to achieve. Some of the factors which should be taken into account are as follows:
Your Ability And Aptitudes
Can you reasonably expect to meet the entrance requirements for your chosen course or career? Are you making the most of your potential, or simply going for a safe option? Are you suited to the goal you have chosen?
Having the necessary ability is a prerequisite for any satisfactory course of action, but you should also consider whether it will suit your personality. A realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses relative to the demands of particular careers is as important as it is difficult. Such factors as ability to work under stress, sociability, self-confidence, willingness to travel, ability to organise and many others are all relevant.
If you are fed up with being taught or want to get into the 'real world' and earn money straight away, the implication seems very clear; but do not forget how different Higher Education can be from school life, and the possibility of combining study with earning money through a Sandwich Course. Perhaps other values, such as a sense of social purpose, will also influence your decision.
Keeping Doors Open
Many students - especially those intending to enter Higher Education - prefer to put off making a career decision at this stage. Whilst this is quite natural, it is useful to think about the sort of careers you might wish to follow, so that you can ensure that any decision about Higher Education courses leaves you with as much flexibility as possible later on. Similarly, students opting for employment might like to consider the opportunities open for continuing their formal education within that employment or at a later stage - not all students enter University straight from school.
Whatever you decide to do, you should think about where this course of action will eventually lead you. Some people prefer a clearly identified career structure, whilst others are prepared to take more risks and hope that suitable opportunities will arise in the right place at the right time. Think also about the flexibility that your chosen course of action allows you: what can you do if you dislike the career you originally chose? How well recognised is any professional qualification you are hoping to gain? Is it possible to change your course at University if you lose interest? And so on.....
Any such list will be incomplete, but what has already been said should emphasise how important the decisions you are about to make (or postpone) are.
Do not forget that your OASIS and CENTIGRADE reports provide useful data and advice on all these matters.
All students are encouraged to approach the matter of Careers and Higher Education with an open and enquiring mind. There is a wide variety of routes of entry to most careers and some students will find certain methods of entry more suitable than others.
Accountancy is a good example. Here are some of the ways to become a Chartered Accountant :
(i) A 'Foundation Course' at a University or College of Higher Education (of 9 months duration) with a student contract to work with a firm and study for professional examinations.
(ii) A university degree in Accountancy, which gives some exemptions from professional examinations.
(iii) A BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) course at a University or College of Higher Education, followed either by work with an accounting firm or transfer to an accountancy degree course.
(iv) A degree course in any discipline at a University followed by training within a firm and professional examinations.
Sources of Advice
NOT ALL ADVICE IS GOOD ADVICE!
Some people - with the best intentions - give inaccurate information, and have unfounded prejudices and out-dated impressions. Make sure that the advice you heed is based on sound information, wide experience and the current situation, with an absence of vested interest.
Within the school, advice is given by subject masters, tutors, and the Careers Department. In the latter case, Dr Shanks is chiefly responsible for all such advice, Mr Johnson, Mr Marvin, Mr Powell, Mr Aldridge and Mr Margetts are also available to be consulted, especially on science-based careers, gap year activities and sponsorship schemes, and Mr Jardine, although mainly responsible for advice at 5th Form level, will also be pleased to help Sixth formers. The Department has contacts with a number of employers and with the Careers Office in Croydon. In addition, it has a number of Parents and Old Boys who are willing to give information on those careers of which they have experience, both on an individual basis and at the Annual Careers Evening.
The school is concerned to provide as much help as possible at this important time. If at any stage you become confused or unsure, it is up to you to seek help from your tutor or a member of the careers department: we cannot help if we do not know of your difficulties.