Further information at 18

Navigating Your Options at 18

Turning 18 is a milestone that opens up a variety of paths to consider for your future. Whether you’re leaning towards higher education, starting a career, or exploring other avenues, understanding your options can help you make informed decisions that align with your goals and interests.

Higher Education

University Degrees Pursuing a university degree is a popular choice for many 18-year-olds. It offers the opportunity to delve deeply into a subject you are passionate about while gaining valuable skills and qualifications. Consider the following when choosing a university:

  • Course Content: Look at the modules offered and see if they match your interests.
  • Location: Decide whether you want to stay close to home or experience living in a new city.
  • Reputation and Rankings: Research the university’s reputation and the ranking of the specific course you are interested in.
  • Entry Requirements: Ensure you meet the entry requirements for the course.

Higher National Diplomas (HND) and Foundation Degrees These are vocational qualifications that combine practical and theoretical learning. They typically take two years to complete and can be a pathway to a full degree.


Apprenticeships offer a way to earn while you learn, combining on-the-job training with classroom instruction. They are available in a wide range of fields, from engineering and IT to healthcare and finance. Benefits of apprenticeships include:

  • Hands-On Experience: Gain practical skills and work experience in your chosen industry.
  • Qualifications: Achieve recognized qualifications without incurring student debt.
  • Employment Opportunities: Many apprentices are offered permanent positions upon completion.

Gap Year

Taking a gap year can be a valuable experience if you use it wisely. It provides time to:

  • Travel and Experience New Cultures: Gain a broader perspective and develop independence.
  • Work and Save Money: Build your savings and gain work experience.
  • Volunteer: Make a difference in communities while developing new skills and experiences.


Jumping straight into the workforce is another option. Entry-level positions can provide:

  • Immediate Income: Start earning right away and gain financial independence.
  • Work Experience: Develop skills and gain experience that can enhance your resume.
  • Career Progression: Many companies offer training and development programs to help employees advance their careers.

Further Education Colleges

Further education colleges offer a range of courses, including A-levels, BTECs, and NVQs. These can be a stepping stone to university or provide vocational training for immediate employment.


If you have a business idea or a passion you want to turn into a career, starting your own business could be a rewarding path. Consider:

  • Business Planning: Develop a solid business plan outlining your goals, target market, and financial projections.
  • Support and Funding: Look for grants, loans, and mentorship programs for young entrepreneurs.
  • Skills Development: Enhance your skills in areas like marketing, finance, and management.

Decision-Making Tips

  • Assess Your Interests and Strengths: Consider what you enjoy and where your strengths lie.
  • Research Thoroughly: Gather information on all your options before making a decision.
  • Seek Advice: Talk to career advisors, mentors, and professionals in fields you are interested in.
  • Consider Long-Term Goals: Think about where you want to be in five or ten years and which path will help you get there.

Final Thoughts

Making a decision about your future at 18 can feel overwhelming, but remember that it’s okay to change direction as you learn more about your interests and strengths. The key is to stay informed, be open to new opportunities, and seek support when needed.

At Careers Help UK, we are here to provide guidance and resources to help you navigate your options. Whether you’re considering further education, apprenticeships, or diving straight into the workforce.

CRAC: The Career Development Organisation
2nd Floor
Sheraton House
Castle Park
Cambridge CB3 0AX
01223 460277
www.crac.org.ukLattitude Global Volunteering
44 Queens Road,
Berkshire RG1 4BB
0118 959 4914
www.lattitude.org.ukThe Prince’s Youth Business Trust
0800 842842
www.princes-trust.org.ukShell LiveWire
0845 757 3252
0191 423 6229
New Barn Lane
GL52 3LZ
01242 222444
www.ucas.ac.ukYear in Industry Scheme
University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ
023 8059 7061

Useful websites