- Think about what you enjoy doing day to day – maybe this could be part of a future job role.
- Explore jobsites and graduate careers – you might find ideas to work or study towards.
- Consider the options on this page – different subjects, activities and alternatives to uni.
There are lots of courses to consider
Decide what's right for you
It might take you a while, but keep thinking about it.
- If you don't find anything you like the sound of right away, at least you'll be narrowing down your ideas.
- Once you've chosen a subject or career, check out which type of study is right for you and how to choose a course.
- There are other ways below to prepare for higher education too, and alternatives if you'd rather not apply for a course at the moment.
University is so much more than a few years studying for a degree to get a job. Whilst gaining knowledge in a subject you enjoy, you also learn life long skills, forge friendships, develop the ability to live independently and create lasting memories.
Jasmine Latter, The Times/UCAS Writing Competition entrant, University of St Andrews
Activities before higher education
Extra-curricular activities are great for demonstrating skills on your UCAS application. Maybe something sporting, creative or musical – possibly with key skills like teamwork. Maybe paid work or volunteering, or an activity resulting in a grade, certificate or accreditation. There's so much available – something for all ages and backgrounds:
- clubs, societies and employment in your local area
- art foundation courses – usually required before taking an art and design degree
- higher education taster courses – summer schools like Villiers Park
- science, technology, engineering and maths activities – Crest Awards
- skills development – ASDAN, Duke of Edinburgh, National Citizen Service or young enterprise
- volunteering – vInspired Awards or WorldWide Volunteering Certificate
- accreditation in personal effectiveness for activities that prepare you for higher education – ASDAN
1. Take a gap year
You can gain lots of skills and amazing experiences with a gap year.
2. Do something work based
There's a range of options available for heading straight into the world of work.
- Get experience – either paid or voluntary work could move you closer to a course or career you want.
- An apprenticeship – earn while you learn and gain qualifications – find out more in our flexible study area, or check Apprenticeships England, Apprenticeships Northern Ireland, Apprenticeships Scotland or Apprenticeships Wales.
- Go straight into a career – get advice from your local government centres – Careers Service England, Careers Northern Ireland, Skills Development Scotland or Careers Wales.
- Start a business – find advice and support at the Prince's Trust or the local government – gov.uk for England, Northern Ireland Executive, Business Scotland or Business Wales.
3. Study in a different way
Maybe you still want to study, but in another way.
- Take a foundation degree – usually two years, gaining knowledge and skills to prepare you for business.
- Study part-time instead – check out our info on flexible study options.
4. Study abroad
Have a look at the following websites if you're thinking about studying abroad:
- Australia or New Zealand – try Study Options
- Ireland – go to the Central Applications Office
- The Commonwealth – The Association of Commonwealth Universities
- USA – have a look at the Fulbright Commission
You can also get advice from the British Council or the embassies of other countries.