I don’t want to go to university

So you’ve decided you don’t want to go to university. Before you abandon your UCAS form, have you thought about why you don’t want to go? Weigh up all your reasons before you decide uni’s not for you.

Girl holding a blow up globe

You don't have to go to uni, there's a whole world of things to do.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life

This is normal. In fact, most graduates coasting through uni are waiting for that light-bulb moment. It’s sensible to wait until you have at least a vague idea of what career interests you before you jump into a degree, but don’t write them off just because you’re confused.

What should I do?

  • Talk through your options with your teacher or careers advisor at school, or a trained advisor at the National Careers Service.
  • Focus on the subjects you enjoy instead of your best grades and you’re more likely to find a career you’ll stick at. “Young people may feel a little lost when looking at their options,” says Tom Laws, an adviser from the National Careers Service, “but our Skills Health Check tool will help you decide what kind of job would suit you.”
  • Take a year out to give yourself time to think. Hand-rear chimps in the Amazon, build a school in Uganda, play your harmonica for an ancient tribe in Peru – this can help make decisions clearer. “Gap years can be a great way to explore careers, develop skills, discover new cultures and gain invaluable life experience,” says Tom.

I’m not academic

Neither are Lord Sugar or Richard Branson, but that didn’t stop them starting multi-million pound businesses. You don’t have to be academic to be successful. Perhaps your skills would be best suited to a more practical, hands-on course or career?

What should I do?

  • Again, think about what you enjoy doing. Hattie Wrixon, 21, quit her A-levels because she didn’t enjoy school. “My parents assumed I’d go to uni, but I’m not academic,” she says. “I’ve always been entrepreneurial, so I decided to do a secretarial course which I loved. It taught me essential skills I needed to start my website.” Read Hattie’s story here.
  • Check out more industry-specific courses, apprenticeships and start-of-the ladder jobs.
  • Retake any GCSEs that you need – remember, maths and English are essential for MOST jobs and are sometimes free to retake (check with your course provider).

I don’t see the point of uni

If you want to be a doctor, a vet, a teacher or any other profession that requires a degree, you don’t have a choice but to get one. However, you’re right in thinking other careers have alternative routes in.

What should I do?

  • Look at what careers definitely NEED a degree and work out what you’re willing to eradicate at this point. (The Job Profile section on the National Careers Service website is useful for this).
  • Once you’ve got a list of careers you’re interested in check out other ways of getting your foot in the door (apprenticeships, internships, training schemes etc). Weigh up the pros and cons of all options.
  • Look into the industries where there’s demand. To find out which employers are likely to be hiring, read our article.

They cost too much money

Yep, degrees are expensive and you’ll probably be saddled with a whopping great student debt at the end of it. However, as most graduates earn more over their working life than non-graduates it’s a good investment in your future.

What should I do?

  • For more information on Student Loans and when you need to pay it back, read our article here.
  • There are also bursaries and hardship funds you can apply for. Check out extra funding options.

I’m scared?

Leaving home to go to uni is undoubtedly a giant leap into the unknown. Is it the course that’s worrying you? The location? Or the idea of living with strangers and their weird habits? Remember most people find it scary, but they also find it one of the best times of their lives once they’ve jumped in.

What should I do?

  • Read our expert chat about moving out to university to help you figure out what you’re scared of and what you can do to tackle it.
  • Try talking to someone who’s already been to uni – they should be able to chat through your fears and reassure you.
  • If you really don’t think you can face it, you can always stay at home and do a part-time degree. Read Amy’s story here.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015