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Your choices at 16

Thinking about a degree in the future?

All three pathways you can choose at 16 offer opportunities for progression to higher-level study when you are 18. You can read more about your future options for higher-level study.

If you have a particular degree or subject in mind, now is the time to check out the entry requirements on the UCAS site, so your choices are the right ones to ensure you get where you want to go after 18!

If you really don't know what you want to do at 18, but you think higher education might be of interest, then choose a broad range of subjects at 16 so you have maximum choice of university subjects later.

There are some A-Level subjects that are regarded by virtually all universities as being acceptable. These are sometimes known as ‘facilitating‘ subjects such as Maths, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Geography or a foreign language. Some universities are stricter than others on this issue - the Informed Choices website, funded by the Russell Group universities may help.

When making your post-16 choices, if you are thinking of higher education later, bear in mind the following:

Degrees for a specific job

Some careers require a specific degree such as medicine or architecture so you will need to have the right qualifications to gain entry to that degree course. Degree courses often specify which qualifications they want - sometimes this can be specific A-Levels. You need to check this out by looking at course entry requirements on university websites. Careerpilot has a whole section on how to decide which courses to do and how to compare courses.

Degrees for general employment

Many employers welcome people with the higher-level skills that degrees develop, irrespective of the subject studied. So, the A-Level / Applied Vocational Qualification route to university can be a good way to carry on learning and developing higher-level skills, even if you are not absolutely sure what job or career you want to do in the future. You could look at start with a subject and get ideas about where a subject you like might lead.

Why carry on learning?

With more qualifications you will have more choice about what job you want to do, so you’re more likely to find a job you enjoy rather than get stuck in a rut doing unskilled work. Also, research shows that better qualifications can give you a chance to earn more money - and make you happier!

Gaining good qualifications will help you

  • Move on to your next stage of learning.
  • Broaden your career choices.
  • Get a better-paid and more interesting job in the long term.
  • Be more in control of your life.
  • Become interested in learning new things throughout your life.

Qualifications can affect future pay

Often the more you learn the more you earn! That's not always true but the graph below shows that, in 2018, graduates (people with a degree) earned £10,000 more than non-graduates, on average.

Why not look at the Benefits of Higher Education and see where it could take you? 

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