As a student going into my second year of university I frequently get asked the same questions about my choice of degree. The usual queries involve: are you glad you moved away? Are you enjoying your course? Or, do you think you made the right decision? For me, I can quite gladly say that I made the right choices regarding the development of my education, but then again I must consider whether I was ever really given many other options.
On reflection, during my high school years I was guided down a very distinct road to success, which involved getting my GCSE’s, moving on to A Level study, and aspiring to move onto the wonders of university life. However, when thinking about my former school peers it is easy to realise that not everyone would have wanted to follow quite the same clear pathway as myself. Some students take to the more “hands on” approach to learning, and this idea is rather overshadowed when you look at the wider spectrum of teaching guidance.
According to research conducted by the NUS, at least a fifth of apprentices had never received relevant information about the scheme from their former career services, which makes you wonder if the advantages of apprenticeships are discussed enough. After all, it is ignorant to think that apprenticeships are only for the often stereotyped “less academic” when up to 25% of university students admit that they would greatly benefit from the work experience offered by some of the available schemes.
In our day and age graduates are often criticised for lacking basic “life skills” to assist them in the work place, with many graduates being encouraged to plunge into an apprentice role following their degree. This places emphasis on the many advantages that apprentice programmes can actually offer young people.
As NUS President Toni Pearce made clear in research published at the end of August, students should be given the tools to enable them to thrive, whatever their journey may be, and with “journey” being the key word here, it is important to remember that goals can be achieved through various walks of life. All our journeys differ and involve different ways of learning. Whether your dreams are achieved via university study, apprenticeship courses or any other pathway for that matter, the most crucial thing is that your dream becomes a reality.
You may be reading this right now thinking, was university really the right choice for me? Or, I wish I had looked into my options more. Evidence from the research carried out by the NUS places emphasis on the fact that over half of university students admit to never being given advice on apprenticeship opportunities, which may force you to consider if you were ever really well advised before you arrived at your current position.
Even though we are students, each one of us consists of a hidden talent. You may be a secret culinary genius or a talented, electrical whizz kid who has never had the chance to thrive in your passion, as you have never received the right guidance to assist you. Many students thrive on university life, and find pleasure in all aspects of education, but some of us do not and may even regret continuing to do so for an additional three years. For this reason, it begs us to question whether we have made wise decisions over the years or rather, have been the victims of missed opportunities.
Whatever your verdict may be, what remains clear is that when it comes to apprenticeships, their deserved advertisement does indeed appear to be lacking.