School Leavers and Further Education

School Leavers Today

The talk today that we hear most from school leavers, is of going to university. This is a big spectrum since the expansion of the term “university” took in various technical college type establishments and put them under the same umbrella.

It means that leavers today can go to university and study media, golf course management, possibly a degree in Jedi, with apparently the same gravitas as studying law, philosophy or quantum mechanics.

Whichever type of course you choose, going to uni’ can represent a huge step in growing up. It can be one of the main reasons for choosing to go. To leave home, maybe for the first time, maybe to get out from under the parental eye.

Some will go to slake a thirst for knowledge, some as an inevitable progression of their interests or aspirations. Whatever the reason for the choice, living away from home can be a life changer.

It can be a sudden realisation of responsibility to many, that on the first morning of term, no-one is going to tell you to get up and have breakfast, no-one is going to tell you to attend your lectures, and no-one is going to call you to the table at supper time and serve you food.

There can be a lot to work out, that you simply took for granted while living at home, and of course there is the social side of things. Some of it is stuff of legend, but it is all part of accepting your own responsibility within your independence.

Meeting new people, probably from different backgrounds to the one you’ve known, with different interests and views, can stimulate new thoughts and ideas. This is why universities are considered breeding grounds for innovation and inspiration.

There are those school leavers to whom the idea of university is an anathema. Some may want to leave the academic scene as soon as possible, and start earning a wage. Many consider the idea of leaving college with debts which could exceed £30,000 as a non-starter.

There are those who leave school to a job which doesn’t need a degree course, or perhaps have no idea of what they want to do at all, and perhaps take “time out”.

Another direction which is growing ever more popular, with increased government incentives is taking an apprenticeship, or for those with A levels already, higher apprenticeships. The draw of being able to earn while you learn can be pretty strong.

The figures showing the rise in apprenticeship take-up numbers would probably be reflected in the figures of increasing student debt.