From education to employment

Unaware, unsure and unhappy – are students really making informed decisions about their post-school career pathways?

The team @CareermapNews undertook a study of almost 2,500 UK-based adults aged between 18-21, with the aim of finding out just how many students felt pressured into choosing a particular course or career path, while undertaking their A-Levels or chosen college course. The study also looked into how many of these students are now happy with their chosen career paths.

Over three quarters of students who took part in the survey revealed they felt pressured by parents and peers to choose a particular university or career path, following the completion of their A-Levels / college course (65%). In addition to this, around 33% of students admitted they opted to go to a particular university just because their friends had applied there too.

A staggering 89% revealed that when completing their A-Levels / college course, they had ‘no idea’ what options were available to them, aside from applying to university or going straight into a career. When asked how happy they were with the path they’ve chosen, 40% revealed they don’t enjoy what they are currently studying or where they are working. However, 60% revealed they are happy with their choice.

It was found that 32% of students who took part in the survey felt ‘cheated’ by schools. This was down to the ‘lack of education’ and ‘in-depth’ information regarding certain options and pathways available after sixth form or college.  

Students were then asked how they finally came to their decision, whether it was heading to university or straight into the working world.

Some of the most common answers given were:

  • 30% discussed options with their parents
  • 25% made the decision based off their own knowledge and didn’t discuss options with anyone (school or parent)
  • 18% discussed options with peers / friends
  • 15% spoke with a school’s career advisor to find out more information on the options available
  • 12% researched into options available online

Finally, when asked to reflect on making the big decision, 65% of mature students (final year at university and above) claimed that if there was more support and advice available to them, their decision might have been different.

Simon Bell, Founder at commented:

“For any student nearing the completion of their A-Levels or college course, it can feel like a really daunting period in their lives. The immense pressure of exams, coupled with the uncertainty of which path is the right one to take next can be a lot to take in. I think it comes as no surprise that such a large proportion of students are simply unaware of the options available to them; I must add through no fault of their own. There are however, so many options whether it’s an apprenticeship, traineeship, work experience scheme or a university course, trying out a few different workplace sectors; the options are endless. However, the traditional paths are still being pushed at students, and they’re not always the right option for each individual.

“As an expert in the field of career-related advice, I take pride in being able to support students who want to know all of the options available to them. I feel that every student should be armed with knowledge when it comes to making their next step, so they can move forward with no regrets.”

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