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What next after high school?

Nicole Echezona
Nicole Echezona
A lot of young people have a lot questions about what to do after high school. You might be thinking about whether university is the right choice for you, or what the other possibilities are.
This article can help give you ideas about what to do after high school.
A group of young people walk towards college with rucksacks on.
A group of young people walk towards college with rucksacks on.

What are my options?

Nowadays, university isn’t the only option when questioning what to do after high school. From A-levels to apprenticeships, you have a variety of options when thinking about taking your next best step.

There are many options of what to do next into your career path, click below to find out more:

A Levels

What exactly are A-levels?

Advanced level qualifications-known as A-levels are subject-based qualifications that can lead to university, further study, training, or work. They’re usually assessed by a series of examinations. You might have some questions as to what grades are needed, what are they used for, or who are they for, and the answers are provided below:

What grades are required for A-Levels?

  1. The grades needed to take A-levels are regularly at least five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4/A* to C.
  2. At least grade 6 in the specific subject(s) you want to study

More so, the specific requirements needed to study A-levels do vary across schools and colleges. It is very important to check what requirements are needed for the school or college you are looking to study at.

 What are A Levels used for?

  1. A-levels are a great headstart when looking for employment as employers value it because it shows you have a good level of education
  2. They are also the most common qualifications when applying to higher education.

 Who are A Levels for?

  1. People thinking of going into higher education as most courses require specific A-levels or combinations of A-levels.
  2. People who have not figured out what job or career they would like to go into. A-levels are a good alternative to keeping your options open
T Levels

The chances are you are hearing this for the first time. It actually launched back in September of 2020. T-levels are another alternative to A-levels and apprenticeships. Unlike apprenticeships, you do more theory and study than working in a placement. Designed for 16-19-year-olds, the 2-year course gives a technical alternative to A-levels. They are the equivalent of 3 A-levels and focus on vocational skills.

What grades are required for T Levels?

Schools and colleges have their own different requirements, checking the websites of the places you wish to apply to will show you what GCSE grades are needed.

What are T Levels used for?

  1. After T-levels you can apply for apprenticeships, universities, or jobs.
  2. They offer students practical and knowledge-based learning at a school or college and on-the-job experience through an industry placement of at least 315 hours; approximately 45 days.

Who are T levels for?

  1. They are good for people who know what career they want, and to learn the relevant technical skills for that career in a classroom.
  2. They are suitable for 16-19-year-olds looking to gain both a technical qualification and an industry placement with an employer.
  3. They are more suitable for students looking to prepare themselves for the workforce.

Apprenticeships are jobs and qualifications at the same time. They allow you to get some work experience and also earn certificates to add to your CV.

Requirements for Apprenticeships To apply for an apprenticeship you must be:
  1. Over the age of 16
  2. Not in full-time education
  3. Living in the UK.
What grades are required for apprenticeships?  Apprenticeships have different levels, and the levels require different entry requirements. At level 2 which is equivalent to GCSE, the only requirements are all the things listed above; often employers will look for an interest in the apprenticeship you are applying for. Ultimately, it is up to the employer, but for higher levels, the grades required vary according to experience, grades, and roles within the company. For more information check out https://apprenticeshipguide.co.uk/what-are-the-entry-requirements-for-apprenticeships/ What are apprenticeships used for?  They can be used to go into:
  1. Higher levels of apprenticeships.
  2. Further education courses i.e. University.
  3. Go to work with the qualifications you have acquired.
Who are apprenticeships for?
  1. Anyone over the age of 16 and over who is looking to earn money and learn at the same time. It is more than 80% on the job and 20% in the classroom.
  2. Students who wish to learn a specific occupation while on the job.

Things to consider when choosing a college

College! High school passed by so quickly. Choosing the right college could most likely determine how your next 4-6 years could go, so it is essential you know what to take into consideration before making this big decision.

Available courses

This should be the top priority before anything else. Does your choice of college offer the course you want to study? Does it offer other alternatives i.e A-levels, T-levels, Apprenticeships etc. Asking yourself these questions can help you carefully decide the best path for you.


It is important to take note of where you are going to study. Do you intend for it to be close to home? If not, how much more will you be spending on transportation?

Don’t forget that Our Pass could help you get to college. It offers free bus travel for 16-18 year olds.


Although this is not as much of a priority as the ones above, researching the amenities your chosen colleges have to offer is also essential. The most important priority is to remember how the college makes you feel. It may not feel like an important factor, but it is. All things considered, college is what you make of it, any school may not be the perfect fit, but if you are able to make the most of it and are willing to learn, you can have a great experience anywhere.

Top tips when applying for college

The last year before college is normally going to be the most stressful and nerve-wracking moments of your teenage years, but it is all worth it as you are paving a way to your future. Here are my top tips when applying for college:

  • Give yourself a head start when applying for colleges and preparing for your exams. Time really flies and you want to make sure to start early and avoid procrastinating.
  • Apply to as many colleges within your cost and all things considered. Your dream university may not be everything you imagined and hoped for. Just remember happiness is what you make of it.
  • Keep in mind that there are other options like foundation levels if you weren’t able to meet the entry requirements of your chosen colleges.
  • Pay attention to every detail. Proofread applications and letters and ask for a second opinion from friends and family.


How to apply to colleges

At this point, you have gone through all the steps above and you should have an idea of what to do next.

Below are some guidelines to follow when applying to colleges.

  1. The first step is to pick your desired college and course. Be straightforward with yourself on what you want to study and why you want to?
  2. List of your first, second and third choices of college
  3. It is very important you start applying months before the application deadline.
  4. Writing your personal statements. This gives you the opportunity to show what you have to offer beyond your grades and test scores.
  5. Letter of recommendation – you may need to get this months before your application deadline! Check out how to ask for a letter of recommendation.
  6. Giving yourself time to actually fill out the applications itself. It isn’t too much of a tedious process, but it does come with a ton of other general information and questions you might need help with.

Preparing for an interview can be a nerve-wracking process. To help with your nerves, here are some tips:

  • Be yourself!
  • Interview practice and asking people for their feedback on how you did.
  • Researching about the college of choice and making sure their values align with yours.
  • Specific questions to ask the interviewer!
  • Preparing your answers for common interview questions.

Here are some common starting questions that you may be asked:

  • Why do you want to attend this college?
  • What was your favourite subject in high school?
  • What are your interests outside high school?


Last important tips:

Dont forget to double check your application at least a week before the deadline and make sure everything’s uploaded and submitted!

You can speak to a friend, a member of your family or a teacher if you are feeling unsure about where to start or how to start.

There are websites you can use:

How to apply for college.

College interview tips!

How to apply for university.

Find out more

Want to look at post 16 options across Greater Manchester? Check out GMACS.

It’s important you can get to your post-16 destination easily, use Google Maps to plan your route.


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