To university or not to university? These days, the traditional route of university is becoming less and less expected of students. This is due to the variety of alternative ways to achieve a degree, other than attending full time university.
One of the most popular alternatives is the Degree Apprenticeship route, my personal favourite ;). A Degree Apprenticeship enables you to gain a full undergraduate and / or master's degree while you work and gain ‘on-the-job’ experience. The degree is fully funded partly by the company you work for, and partly by the government- which means no student debt for you!
Clearly there are some very large differences between choosing the traditional University route and the Degree Apprenticeship route. So let’s dive into some of these main points to help decide which route is best for you.
The 9-5 Life
The first and main difference is that with a Degree Apprenticeship, you will be working a 9-5 job full time as opposed to attending university full time. A Degree Apprenticeship means you will work 4 out of the 5 working days or the week, with the final day put aside for your university studies.
With university, you will be studying and attending lectures / seminars 5 days a week and potentially have a part-time job.
Earning a wage
One of my personal favourite parts of doing a degree apprenticeship is the pay check at the end of the month! As you are working alongside your degree, you are still paid a full time salary like the rest of the employees at your company. The stereotype is that ‘apprentices get paid pennies’ but that is far from the truth. Degree Apprentice starting salaries can range anywhere from £16,000 - £35,000 a year depending on your company and the job!
There’s no truth in saying a Degree Apprenticeship is an ‘easy option’. There are many responsibilities you will be balancing and being held accountable for. A core example of this is balancing working full time with your university studies. On the one hand, you will be holding yourself accountable for achieving good uni grades. On the other hand, your client and project team will be expecting you to deliver work on time to a high standard.
Attending university means the only person you are letting down if you don’t hand in your assignments is yourself. With a Degree Apprenticeship, if you don’t meet your client deadlines, you let down yourself, your project team and your client.
With increasing changes to student repayments, this is an main drawing factor for people to choose a Degree Apprenticeship over uni. As mentioned, your degree will be completely funded by your company and the government, which means you leave with 3+ years of corporate experience, a degree and no student debt attached to it!
The ‘Student Lifestyle’
One of the most spoken about topics of doing a Degree Apprenticeship is the ‘lack of social life’. Which I can say for a fact is not true. You don’t assume all adults don’t have social lives just because they work a 9-5, do you?
Yes, most likely you won’t be able to go on 4 nights out a week and you most definitely would not be allowed to go to work on 3 hours sleep and being slightly tipsy. But, there are still ways in which you can have a fulfilled social life.
For example, most companies host social events for their employees and some even host ‘Young Professional’ specific socials. I got to go on an all paid for boat party in London last year, plus attend a whole range of company funded social events! Not to mention, with the money you earn you can try out new hobbies, go on more holidays and when you do go on nights out, you can afford to make it a really good night out.
Don’t forget that although you are working a 9-5, you will still have bank holidays, annual leave and weekends to enjoy yourself!
To conclude, there are many benefits of attending university and also many benefits of doing a Degree Apprenticeship. Choosing between the two can be difficult, but ultimately it depends upon your priorities and what feels best for you and the direction you want to go in.