University vs Apprenticeship

I finished 6th form in May 2017, so it was time for me to leave school and make the next step in my career life. I always found it a daunting subject, talking about which path to take as school always said it could affect how successful you would be in that career.  It’s a big decision, choosing something that you want to do for the rest of your life. So if you’re at the age where you need to decide your career path, then this blog post might help you!


The main reason for both methods of education is the qualifications which you will gain from them during the study. With University, you will gain a degree in the subject you have chosen. This will then help you to get into that career and earn a higher wage over someone who may not have a degree in that subject. Once more, you may study multiple subjects in university, where as in an apprenticeship you will normally just study one subject and gain one qualification, so this may help to make your decision if you are wanting to go into a career where you will need multiple qualifications.

If you decide to go down the apprenticeship route, it is less likely that you will be getting a degree. Although most apprenticeships start at lower levels, they all offer scale to develop and rise to degree level, providing that your employer is willing to fund it. However there are some degree level apprenticeships though these are rare and are most likely to be with larger corporations. Of course, the best option when deciding between university and apprenticeships would be to get a degree apprenticeship. When I was beginning my search, I only found one degree level apprenticeship in my local area, though it was focused for IT where as I wanted to specialise in business, therefore I decided to get a level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship and work my way up the ladder.

Money- Salaries/Debt

There are benefits and drawbacks for each choice, but the main benefit of choosing an apprenticeship over university is that you are able to get paid whilst you learn, this means that you will not be getting into any debt. All training which you are placed on, is paid by your employer and you also receive a salary in return for working at the business. Although apprenticeship salaries are usually low with the national minimum wage for apprentices being £3.50 per hour, considering that all of the training costs are covered by the employer, this is quite good, especially for school leavers.

On the other hand, with university there is no annual salary, and you will have to pay fees to attend, usually around £9000 per year for a full time student in the UK. Therefore this means that attending University can lead to huge amounts of debt, though once you have graduated and you have a degree you can earn a much higher wage in the long term.

The main thing to consider is day to day living, although University will bring lots of fun, education and freedom, it also leads to large amounts of debt and you will need to find money to live from elsewhere, whether that be a part time job or student finance. Where as an apprenticeship will provide a steady wage to live off and no debt, but you must be ready to work 9 til 5, 5 days a week and you will also be expected to be reliable and act professionally within the workplace so you need to consider what is best for you. For me, I preferred getting on the career ladder and choosing an apprenticeship where I was getting paid to learn, though I also can see why people choose university.

Friendships & Relationships

It may be the hardest decision in your life and you are most likely to be swayed in one direction based upon where your friends are going, however you must consider what is best for you and your future career. Schools always push for students to go to university, though that’s the thing, I always felt pushed into university by school which made me resent university. I always wanted to go into full time work as soon as I could, of course I would have thoroughly enjoyed university life, though I wanted to get my foot in the door with a local business and begin my working career. This also meant that I could leave my part time job, which was something that I was very happy about! Getting your weekends, Christmas’s and bank holidays back was one of the main perks for me! That to me was the main drawback of university, having to still have a part time job as well as all that studying, I preferred working full time and learning whilst earning a wage to life off.

Whatever decision you make, it will impact various aspects of your life, including friendships and relationships. After I finished 6th form, everyone went their separate ways, some of my closest friends moved away to study at a university and I went into full time work. Though, don’t worry if you choose an apprenticeship that you won’t make any more friends, because you will. The company that I work for has a very young workforce and the team I began on was the youngest team in the whole business, meaning that I made quite a few friends as a result. Once more, your personal relationships may also be affected, though you must remember that in the long term, everyone will have to go into some form of full time career so if you can begin now then you won’t have to adjust later on!


Overall, I believe that apprenticeships are the way forward and are perfect if you feel that you are ready for the world of work and ready to begin your professional career. Though I can also see how university could be beneficial for those who have to get a degree for their career or even for someone who knows what subject they wish to study but are not sure on exactly what career they want to use that degree for. Feel free to drop me an email or a message on social media if you’re struggling to decide!


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