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Posted by & filed under Careers and Beyond.

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A-level students around the country will be finishing their exams soon and taking different paths toward their future. Some will be off to university, others into full-time work, and there will be some students who are undecided. For many, the increase in tuition fees has meant students are weighing up whether or not they should go to university at all. For those about to graduate, some may also be considering further study or wondering if they should they enter the job market.

Define your career goals

Students

It’s important to think about what type of career you want, as this will help you decide whether you should carry on studying. If you’re undecided about what to do, think about what you enjoy and what makes you happy. Perhaps you love a certain subject and want to pursue it further as a career.

Entering the world of work means you can start earning money straight away and won’t have a student loan. However, on average, graduates can expect to earn more in the long run and only start paying back loans when they secure employment with a salary over £21,000. Continuing study can set you on the right path toward a dream career, so it’s important to think about what you want to do long term.

If you have your heart set on a specific career, think about the entry requirements needed to enter that career. Can you enter that field without studying or do you need a certain level of education? Perhaps look at job boards and see what employers are asking for as a starting point. If you’re at school you could speak to a careers advisor, or check out The National Careers Service to see what qualifications you need for your dream job.

Graduates

If you’re a graduate or about to graduate, you may be considering doing a Postgraduate or Master’s degree. If you have a passion for a subject or area, then continuing this further can ultimately lead into an area of work you enjoy. If you don’t know whether you should study or not, think about the jobs you want to do after you graduate. Do you need the qualification, or want it? Perhaps an internship, graduate placement, or voluntary work will help you get into the right area after you graduate.

Employed

If you’re currently working you may want to enter another field or if your career has reached a plateau, you may need to study further to move up the career ladder. Yet many people who are used to earning money may struggle  leaving work to study full time. Perhaps you have bills, rent,  or a mortgage to take care of and really don’t know how you’re going to study and afford everything you need.

The Best of Both Worlds

If you want to study and continue to earn money, an online degree could be the way forward for you. You could study an undergraduate, Master’s or Postgraduate degree online. Online degrees offer you flexibility, as you can access course material whenever you want and you don’t have to attend lectures at set times – meaning you can still work full time.

If you’re unsure about whether online learning is right you, try out a MOOC (massive open online course) to get a taster into further education. MOOCs are free, online, short courses offered by universities that give you an insight into further study before you commit to a full degree.

What do you think – is it better to study or stay/go straight into work? Can you do both?

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