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University is not the only option

Business students working at computers

by Robert Anderson, Assistant Principal at Glasgow Clyde College

When young children are asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” the response is usually popstar, astronaut, or these days, YouTuber. Once they’re in education and unfortunately had their aspirations sanitized by their influencers, the response becomes “maybe a teacher, joiner or doctor”.

Plans are then put in place as to how to achieve these goals. Some leave full time education and go straight into the world of work while some continue into further education. 

But how informed are students, and indeed parents, when it comes to deciding what these next steps should be?

With university often being the most popular path of progression for pupils from the country’s more affluent areas, pressure from parents and teachers alike can influence this decision. While University is a positive move for many, in Scotland, nearly 6% of students drop out of their degree course after the first year, with a further 36% dropping out by the end of second year.

Of course, there is no way to pinpoint exactly why these young people change their minds about the courses they are studying, but I believe that some of the contributing factors include academic immaturity, influencer pressure and an absence of information and understanding of the College to University progression routes that exist but the pressure to succeed is likely to be influencing their short-term aspirations. Yet there are many alternative routes available to young people which ultimately lead to the same destination, however they are often overshadowed by the popularity of university.

Many students are unaware of college articulation links.

Due to formal agreements between the college and most higher education institutions across the country, students can attend Glasgow Clyde College for one or two years to achieve their HNC/HND qualification, and then, providing they achieve the grades necessary, can take advantage of the college’s articulation agreements and proceed straight into second or third year at university.

College provides invaluable opportunities for young people to immerse themselves in student life, without having to commit to a three or four year full-time course. In addition, Glasgow Clyde College has extensive industry partnerships, offering students a range of opportunities including work experience, workshops and live industry-based projects. College also often allows students to travel locally and save on living costs, which are ultimately paid by the parents or via student loans.

College can provide a more viable route towards a degree for many school leavers, so it is essential that young people and their parents are equipped with all the information they need to make an informed decision about their future.