When approaching a big decision, sometimes it can help to start from the end and work backwards. Some jobs require specific qualifications that you might not know about until it’s too late, so it may help to look at job advertisements in the industry you are interested in to find out what they are looking for in a candidate. If you find out that your dream job requires a degree in Animal Management, for example, then you now know that you will have to go to university before applying – and to get to university, you will need specific qualifications… you can see where this is going!
Research is an important part of most decisions, and the more you know, the better placed you are to make that big decision. So use all the resources available to you - not just Google, but careers services, and information available in the LRC – to help you build that knowledge. Make a note of key information and, particularly if you’re a visual learner, perhaps draw a career ladder, illustrating your route to your goal.
Now, not all of us have a 5 or 10 year plan and the future may be uncertain as you aren’t sure what suits you; alternatively, you might have more than one career in your mind and choosing between them can be a struggle! This is where our Explore feature comes in.
This innovative programme helps match up your interests and experience with courses at college and can be used at every level – whether you’re a school leaver or returning to education. If you have a career in mind, you can search for it, but if not, you can simply put your personal interests in the search bar and away you go!
It’s important to remember that these decisions are going to shape your future, and only yours, so when it comes to applying for college, research things that interest you the most. If you’re a keen footballer, why not look into careers in coaching, sports science, or business? Picking a course that genuinely interests you will not only spur you on to achieve in that area, but can also help you keep going when times get tough or a challenging project arises.
Again, our Explore feature can help with this, but you should also take some time to research how you can reach those next steps yourself.
Another aspect of applying for College is knowing where your strengths lie and, though it’s important to find a course that interests you, it’s also an important time to be realistic about your choices – however, this doesn’t just mean dropping any hopes of a career that you are interested just because you don’t currently have the grades!
For example, if you leave school and realise that you want to study BioChemistry at university but you didn’t quite get the GCSE grades to progress straight onto the Level 3 course that the university requires, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up on that career – you can take Level 2 courses and progress on from there. Remember, your education isn’t a race and, just like anything else set-backs are likely to happen from time to time, but being realistic from the beginning can help you make the right decision.
As much as these are your choices and it’s ultimately your future that you are making decisions on, it doesn’t mean that a helping hand isn’t available. Our Information and Guidance team are trained professionals that are available to talk to on a one-to-one basis, offering imparital advice about your career aspirations.
They have links to professional organisations and can often remind you of important processes or requirements for further qualifications and job roles, but what you get out of them is essentially what you put in. So come prepared with questions and ideas and then book in a talk with one of the team and find out how they can help here.
And when you feel you're in the right place to take the next steps, you are ready to apply; good luck!