How do I decide my options at post-16?
Part of the process of leaving school and gaining more independence is making choices about your future.
These decisions can feel overwhelming and stressful, but these 3 simple steps will help you feel confident you're making the right decision for yourself and what you want to achieve.
1. Make an informed choice
One of the most important things when making a decision, is to make sure you have all the information you need. And to make sure that information has come from reliable sources.
Are you confident that you know about all the different options available to you, and how each of the options link to your interests and hopes for the future?
Resources or websites that show they have been approved by the National Careers Service are a good place to start as you know they have been checked for reliability and accuracy (look out for their pink logo). Websites like CareerPilot offer a good range of information that’s easy to read through.
2. Speak to a range of people
Everyone has different experiences, and naturally that means we might know more about some things than others. Your friends and family might be able to give really good advice about A levels if that’s the route they took, but they might not know about apprenticeships for example.
Speaking to different people can help make sure you have a good level of information about all the options so you can decide what’s best for you.
Talking to your school careers adviser is a good way to get advice and guidance that is impartial, reliable and up to date with all the latest information. They will listen to your thoughts and ideas and help you map out your options.
3. Break it down
Choosing what to do after school can feel a bit like you’re having to map out your whole life – right now.
Focus on what currently interests you and what you like doing. If you know what your career goal is for the long term, great. If you don’t, break it down to shorter term goals. What do you currently enjoy? Would you like to learn more about it for the next 2-3 years?
You might also like to look at the types of job that are most needed in your area, so you can consider how employable a particular qualification would make you. This is known as looking at ‘Labour Market Information’ or ‘LMI’, which is a phrase used to describe job growth or decline. This tool from CareerPilot gives a quick and easy way to see the jobs currently growing or declining in your area.
Points to remember
- Look out for virtual information events or open days
The reason you might not know what you want to do yet is because you haven’t learnt about it yet. So where possible, go explore options through taster days, events and fairs.
- You can always change your mind
Remember it’s ok if you develop new interests after making your choices – so try not to panic. Lots of people take extra qualifications or re-train at some point in their career.
- Don’t worry if your GCSE’s didn’t go well
Relying on grades to get where you want to go? Lots of colleges offer the chance to retake if you need to and the college environment may be more suited to how you like to study.
Looking for some inspiration?
Read Matt and Tami's short blogs about their journey to university and the choices they made when they left school.
University offers so many opportunities to learn, network and grow and this is what I’m the most grateful for.