Why I didn't go to uni. An update.



Way back in 2015, I put pen to paper and wrote about my decision not to go to university like many of my peers. Three years on and I'm still happy with my decision, and since it's National Apprentice Week, I thought I'd write a few of my thoughts about life further down the line after completing an apprenticeship.

Firstly, I'd invite you to read my original post here. Go'rn, it's a good'un.

Job prospects


Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. If you're pondering whether you should choose an apprenticeship over uni, something you're probably considering, and let's be honest, what you should be thinking about, is job prospects.

At some point, whether it's for curiosity's sake or because you want to switch things up, after your apprenticeship, you're going to want to change jobs.

On the one hand, apprenticeships let you get straight into the mix, you get your hands dirty and you get something very valuable for your efforts. You get experience. You're already in the industry you want to be in, and you've got a good feel for it. It's likely you'll already have 1 - 3 years experience in the field by the end of your apprenticeship. Use this to your advantage. It's something a uni student can't say.

Be warned, however, that many job specs will require you to have a degree before they even look your way. It's not fair, but it's how it is, currently. Don't let this put you off though. If you think you'd make a good fit for a job, I'd go ahead and apply anyway. With your experience and inside knowledge of the industry, you'll likely impress your interviewer.

Remember the following. As an apprentice, you're not just cheap labour. You're quickly building a whole host of skills and are used to the working lifestyle. That might sound silly, but being ready to face a 9 - 5 job can be extremely daunting to a freshly graduated uni student. Take those skills and smash it.

Money


Time for some real talk. As an apprentice, you're going to go from top to bottom, and then slowly work your way up again. I'm going to be very frank with you here.

When I started my apprenticeship, nearly all of my friends were at uni, skint, living on tins of baked beans while I had a regular paycheck coming my way. Being only 19, I had barely any responsibilities. Sure, I paid some rent to my parents, and I paid for my own driving lessons, and let's not forget the travel into London every day. However, the rest of my money was mine to do whatever I wanted with. New clothes, nights out, games, holidays, whatever.

You'll probably feel quite well off compared to your friends, but know that when they graduate, they're going to steam ahead with a higher wage. Right from the get-go. Mentally prepare yourself for being the most well off, to the worst. You're still going to progress, wage wise, and skill-wise, obviously, but your friends will suddenly skyrocket in how much cash they've got to play with.

Another point to consider here is, sometimes you'll be doing the exact same job, have more experience, and possibly even more skills than a graduate counterpart, but will still be paid less. Thankfully I personally haven't really experienced this, but I know someone who has. It's a shame, but unfortunately, this is a risk you take when going down the apprentice route.

Least I'm being honest with you, huh!

Friends


On to happier times, friends! Out of all my friends, only four of us did an apprenticeship. I know two people who went straight to work after college/sixth form, and everyone else went to university. This did play havoc with my friendship groups for a while. As you'd expect, those of us that weren't at home got closer, and everyone else became a bit distant for a while. What is nice though, is being able to plan a weekend to go and visit your chums across the country. My two besties and I have done this too many times to count during their time and uni and they were always such good fun. I enjoyed it because I got a good feel of the uni lifestyle for the weekend, and got to see them, obviously. Many drunk Snapchats were taken.

Now, nearly everyone, bar two or three people have finished uni and have come back home. It's really nice, to be honest with you. Since one of my besties have come back I honestly question how I went so long without seeing them while they were at uni. Having more people around means you can have fab nights out and plan cute little day trips with a big group. 

Plus, you'll make new friends during that time. People you meet through work, other people who didn't go to uni. Some of my best friends now I didn't even know, and probably wouldn't know if I had gone to uni (likewise for uni people, they meet some of their besties there too).

Regrets?


Overall, I'm still happy I went down the apprenticeship route. To this day, I still can't decide which course I would have picked at a university. Occasionally I'm a bit envious of people having the living away from home experience, but I'm saving up to house share right now. Yes, sometimes I get a bit bummed out about money, but money doesn't buy happiness.

My best piece of advice to anyone who's considering an apprenticeship is, go for it.

If you see an opening for a job that you like, seriously, go for it. 

Likewise, if you see a course at a university that enthralls and inspires you, go for it.

Go for whichever option makes you excited. Do not pick one over the other just for the social life that comes with it. You'll have ample opportunity with both options for nights out. Trust me!

I hope that this very honest account of life after an apprenticeship helps you in some way. Obviously, I can't speak for everyone's experience, some will have had better experiences and some will have had worse.


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