If you didn’t quite get the grades you were hoping for it’s easy to get consumed with thoughts of, ‘my life is over’ and ‘I will never amount to anything.’ It’s important to remember that life does not begin and end with your exam results. Although this may be a time of disappointment and uncertainty. It can also be seen as a time of endless opportunity.

Retakes or foundation courses can be a good way to get back on the education pony. However many famous and successful individuals have taken this opportunity, to get out there and get a foot on the job ladder or to self-study while in work or training.

Here are our top 5 alternatives to university.

1. Digital Business Academy
Interested in creating an online business? The Digital Business Academy is the one for you. Learn how to start your own business in the comfort of your own home. What makes this course interesting is that it features a range of multimedia elements, that make each course interactive and engaging such as, videos, quizzes, workbooks and assignments. DAB is structured into 8 courses which begin with stage one ‘Size up your idea’ and end with ‘Master finance for your business’. If you ever feel uninspired, each course consists of short video lessons where experts and entrepreneurs will give you practical advice. The best thing about DAB is that it is absolutely free.

2. Lynda is an online education company which offers thousands of video courses on technology, creative and business skills. Lynda allows users to explore several areas including website development, design, photography, business, audio, animation and more. The videos are rated from ‘Appropriate for all’ to ‘Advanced’ and this allows people at different levels to gain skills. You can try Lynda for free for 10 days or become a member from £14.95 (Basic) per month to £22.95 per month (Premium). New courses are added weekly and videos are given by experts in their respective field. For those bilingual Lynda also offers instructions in German, French, and Spanish.

3. Open University

Open University offers a wide range of courses which are flexible. Described as distance learning, OU has four types of distant learning including flexible, all-inclusive, supportive and social, with each one offering a different type of learning. OU content can be accessed from platforms such as OpenLearn, YouTube, iTunes U and Open Research Online. Most OU courses do not have entry requirements and previous qualifications are not essential. The OU also has a number of faculties and research centres across the UK, where students can also visit and experience high quality courses.

4. Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships allow those with skills in certain areas, to develop through practice within their profession. They can be anywhere between 18 to 24 months. In the UK there are three levels of apprenticeships starting from Intermediate (Level 2; equivalent to five good GCSE passes), Advanced (Level 3; equivalent to two A-level passes) and Higher (Level 4/5; equivalent to a Foundation Degree). In some cases the organisation you do the training with, will offer you employment at the end of your apprenticeship. They usually cover skilled labour jobs such as construction or manufacturing, but they are not limited to these areas.

5. Internships
Internships are more varied than apprenticeships, covering a wide range of areas such as design, I.T., sales, marketing, media and more. They differ from apprenticeships in that they are usually shorter in period. Usually done to gain experience and insight into a certain field of work, they are usually more educational orientated than training and can focus on developing skills such as presentation skills, problem solving skills or communication skills. Internships can also be paid or unpaid.

Words by James Childs

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