We’ve talked about not stressing out about your A-level choices before, but what if the only decision you’ve made is that you don’t want to do A-levels?

Hey, that’s OK - A-levels aren’t the best choice for everyone but just deciding you don’t want to do A-levels doesn’t mean you’re destined to stack shelves for the rest of your life (not that there’s anything wrong with that). There are loads of options that’ll lead you to great career paths and some will even give you the opportunity to go to uni.


First, there’s the option of doing a Diploma, but not the Diplomas of yesteryear.  The scheme for 14-19-year-olds is over, but there are still plenty of specialised diplomas you can do straight after school. Music, beauty, sport and dentistry are just a few offered by colleges up and down the country, so get Googling to find out which you qualify for.

Diplomas are great if you’d prefer learn in a more practical way as it’s not all exams and coursework (you’ll complete work experience as part of the course). However diplomas aren’t accepted by all universities, so if you’re thinking about going to uni further down the line, make sure you choose the right one!


Another option pretty similar to Diplomas, is BTECs. They’re focused on teaching you hands-on skills that are relevant for the workplace and they’re coursework assessed, so no exams. Similarly to Diplomas, they are equivalent to three A-levels and accepted by many universities. You could also follow up a BTEC by doing an apprenticeship or going straight into the world of work.

Our Community Writer Stephanie did a BTEC in Travel and Tourism instead of A-levels before going on to study journalism at university:

“My BTEC was a great opportunity to learn about the industry as a whole as well as choosing areas to study in more detail. I did a flight attendant module and we had a replica aeroplane cabin in which to carry out our training. I wouldn’t have received this much hands-on training any other way.”


Did you know that you can go straight into an apprenticeship once you’ve completed your GCSEs? And they’re not just available in engineering or plumbing – oh no – you can get an apprenticeship in almost anything these days, from fashion design to digital roles to finance, marketing and PR and more!

Oh, and you get paid. Admittedly some are not amazing money at first, however others can have a starting salary of £20,000+! You also get at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

Apprenticeships are great for leading to further study – even up to degree level – and, maybe more importantly, a lot of apprentices continue to pursue a career in the field and are giving a job with the company they did their apprenticeship with at the end of it. An apprenticeship qualification looks great on your CV and gives you an advantage over those who have little or no experience of working on the job when applying for roles.

Or you could try getting a job that comes with some training. There are a number of different routes that you can go into without having to do more studying post-16. Many companies these days may consider taking on someone with good GCSEs they can train up. Or many office administration jobs don’t require qualifications higher than GCSEs, but could still lead to promotions within the company that lead into the field you want to work in.

So don’t panic about your decisions because there are a lot of options out there.

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Things you really should know about apprenticeships

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