The deadline has passed but your options are still open

It’s not just uni – there are so many options available to you. We help you decide by visualising your future self.

If uni isn’t for you, there are apprenticeships to take advantage of, internships to sign up for – or you can kickstart your career straightaway and gain invaluable experience from the get-go. You can carry on and apply for a place at university this year – or you could defer. 

Make a small decision

Think of it like playing a game – you wouldn't let someone else take your turn, so why let someone else choose your future?

This article will show you how to make that move. Take you beyond the pressures, persuasions, indecisions, and procrastinations which may have conspired to block your way. If you feel like you’ve missed the deadline or are looking for an alternative route, think again and make a small decision.

Why should you make a small decision? 

Decisions don't need to be big, the smaller ones can have just as much impact. Once you’ve made one small decision, you’ll begin to feel more in control. 

Make the decision to consider your options properly. You may have already spent months zig-zagging alternative choices, or you may have had your head in the sand. Either way, working through each of the alternatives below will help you make a more informed decision. 

Set aside half an hour to do this. Do it now...

Consider the options

Look at the benefits of each option:

Remember to focus on the positives.  And you’re going to do it with imagination and have a little fun – you’re going to dive down that rabbit hole, see where these options take you, and what doors they open. 

Look at each route and ask: What could your best life look like if you took this route? Pull yourself forward a year from now, then maybe five years. You could even challenge yourself to look further – ten or 15 years from now.  

  • Would you be settled in a city, by the sea, or nestled in the countryside?
  • Living with a group of friends or with a partner?
  • Will you have enough money to enjoy your perfect life since you’re good at budgeting?

Read and consider all the options for the greatest clarity. They’re not in order, so read the ones that capture your attention. 

It’s your decision, and it’s a small one. 

Visualise your future self, having made the decision to:

Apply for a place at university or college

Either for this year, defer, or choose to apply later.

First off, visualise being on this course

You’re not too late. If you think this option is for you, you could apply now but defer your place.

You’ll get help with your application from your school or college. Better to get a place and then decide when you might go. This option gives you more time to consider if you’re making the right decision and gives you an opportunity to get more life experience.

Find out more abour deferring 

  • You’re feeling independent and have so much in common with your lively new friends.
  • You had first-hand experience in industry, made great connections, and have work offers for the future.
  • You’re glad you didn’t break between studying – your brain's kept sharp and your motivation's high.
  • You may have studied abroad and had many fresh experiences.
  • It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and how relieved you are that you made the decision to still apply, even though it was after the deadline. 

Where might this lead you in future? Five years down the line and you’re…

... wondering which of the two new job offers you should take, both with a great salary increase and unknown possibilities.

Go on a gap year

Do you need a break from academic life? Fancy a trip doing something worthwhile? Or just want to hang around and build your life skills at home?

First off, visualise being on your gap year. 

Most people who take a gap year stay home and work. About 10% travel abroad, either independently or as part of a gap year programme. 

  • Decide where you might be based.
  • You’re having an adventure of some kind, maybe you’re working alongside old friends and/or making new ones.
  • No deadlines and loads of opportunities, which will look great on your CV.
  • You’ve learnt so much from being self-reliant.
  • You’re pleased you made the decision to apply for a gap year even though a year ago you’d been so undecided.

Gap year ideas and tips

Where might this lead you in future? Five years down the line and you’re…

... planning your next adventure. Finding new challenges is your favourite pastime and indecision is in the past. You're self-reliant and more confident than you ever thought you would be. 

You go to uni, you’re more likely to complete your degree having had a gap year.

You may have determined your real-life goals and even built-up funds. Or become fluent in a new language.

Find out more about why you should take a gap year

Take an apprenticeship

Do you feel ready for employment? Do you enjoy the prospect of earning and working towards a qualification, having had high quality training? 

Apprenticeships have evolved so much in recent years, and you can do an apprenticeship in just about anything at different levels, from intermediate through to degree. They can be full or part-time. 

If you’ve written a personal statement for a university application and decide to do an apprenticeship instead, you can recycle it into your apprenticeship application, as well as your CV or covering letter.

First off, visualise being on an apprenticeship. 

  • You love the variety and the great atmosphere in your workplace.
  • You’ve quickly become skilled and enjoy learning on the job from your experienced colleagues and mixing it with the college-based research.
  • 20% of your work has been high-quality training.
  • There’s a good chance your company will employ you when the training is done.
  • And you’re earning a wage to boot.  

Explore industries offering apprenticeships

Where might this lead you in future? Five years down the line and you’re….

... perhaps still with the same company but you’ve been promoted and will be looking for promotion again soon. The studying bug has bitten and you’re stacking up your qualifications.

Take an internship, volunteer or work

Do you want to do something completely new and different? Internships, volunteering, and trying out alternative work options will reward you with a greater understanding of the wider world.

Move around a lot and you’ll get a feel for several industries. In doing so you may find where you feel most at home. Look out for employers who you’d like to work for. Be bold. Get in touch with them – employers are impressed when you show initiative. Consider agency work if you want to investigate a range of workplaces.

First off, visualise being on your internship, volunteering or going straight into work. 

  • Local or more exotic, you know it’s short-term, but you feel this could lead to a full-blown career opportunity, or becoming an entrepreneur.
  • Looking back, you’re pleased to have chosen this route as it’s opened your eyes to new ambitions.

Where might this lead you in future?  Five years down the line and you’re….

... where you never dreamed you might be! If someone had told you five years ago that you’d be living this life you’d have laughed. You didn’t know life could be like this.

Did it work? What’s your favourite future life?

Next small decision. Apply to whichever route appeals to you the most. Don’t hesitate. You can only go to a gig if you have a ticket. 

You can cancel if you change your mind, but it’s much harder to get a ticket closer to the event. 

Apply this to the next steps in making your life decisions…