Your Passport to freedom • Turn your passion into a career • Why life can be fun • Smart Scots! • Looking into your options
This document is also available in pdf format (392k)
If you want to turn your passion into a dream career, don't stop here!
1 Not sure what you're going to do when you leave school?
Don't panic, you're not alone. Very few of your friends have their careers all worked out, especially when they haven't even done their 4th year exams.
2 Like it or not, learning = choices
The better qualifications you have, the more chances you'll have of getting a career that you love!
Not many people realise it, but if there's something you're really passionate about, you can take that interest and carry on studying it when you leave school.
3 Education or training? Me?
Further or Higher Education leads to qualifications like a national certificate, diploma or a degree. These qualifications can be done at a college or a university. If you would prefer to work while you learn and get some hands-on experience as well as a qualification, then a Modern Apprenticeship or the Skillseekers programme might be up your street.
Remember, there are many paths to your dream career and one of them will be right for you.
4 In this booklet, we'll lay to rest some of the common myths about education and training, and you'll find some examples of how your interests could lead you to a great career. You'll read about people who've been there, done that, got the T-shirt - and never looked back. Don't panic if your interest isn't covered - there are loads of courses to choose from and there's bound to be one that fits whatever you're into.
Give me one good reason why continuing in education and training is right for me?
Well, there's quite a few actually …
- People with a higher education qualification earn, on average, throughout their lives, 50% more than people without - and that's not to be sniffed at!
- Whether at college or university or in training it's a brilliant way to make loads of new friends - you're all in the same boat together
- Allows you to develop new interests and have a chance to try new things out
- Gives you the independence to do exactly what YOU want
- An opportunity to learn more about yourself as well as the subject you love
- There are so many different courses and occupations to choose from - one of them will be right for you!
Okay, I'm listening … but how do I get to college or uni from here?
If you've never enquired about further or higher education you may think that you need highers before you can take a course at a college or university. Well, that's one way, but its not the only way. For example, you could take a vocational course that gives you practical, hands on experience in your chosen subject.
The important thing is to do what's right for you and know what options are available. Your guidance teacher, a Careers Scotland adviser or the websites on the back of this booklet are all good starting points, and will help you decide which route is right for you.
Myths busted! wide open!
Full of swots. Too much dosh. Only for the elite. Just how much of that stuff about college and uni is accurate?
We sort the fact from the fiction . . .
Myth 1: It's just like school, and I've had enough of school!
Truth: It's nothing like school. College and uni offer a life that's worlds apart from the one you're used to at school. For starters, you have more control over what you do and when you do it. Timetables are made up of lectures and tutorials, which are very different to lessons. One minute you might be working one-on-one in a lab and the next you could be in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students. The social life is great too. Between classes you can play pool, go to the coffee bar, watch TV or just hang out with your friends. There's also studying to do, but it's all about motivating yourself. You're in control!
Myth 2: You need really high grades to get there
Truth: I'm not going to pretend that grades aren't important - the better your grades are, the more options you have. However, it's worth knowing that many colleges and universities award places based on the strength of personal statements and commitment to a course, not just grades. And that's where your passion for your subject shines through! Grades wise, you should check out what you need to achieve to qualify for the course that you're interested in - ask your teacher or Careers Scotland adviser or go to www.ucas.com . But always aim higher, be the best you can be, get the best grades you can.
Myth 3: Everyone's posh at university
Truth: I come from a family that has no history of university, and I've got to be honest - this was one of my main fears. I couldn't have been more wrong! Long gone are the days when all students were from posh families. The majority of unis now take more than 90% of their students from state schools and colleges, so there's no need to fear not fitting in. Wherever you come from, whatever your background, everyone starts on day one with a clean slate and an equal chance of succeeding. I did, and I'm loving it.
Myth 4: You have to move away from home if you want to study
Truth: It's up to you. Lots of students are choosing to go to a local university or college and live at home, because it's cheaper and they may not want to leave their mates and family behind. The benefit of this is that you don't have to pay rent, you still have your own room and you can keep your Saturday job! I've even managed to get away with not doing any washing and cooking because I'm studying too hard! Some people prefer to study away from home so they can benefit from the experience of leaving home and meeting new people.
Myth 5: My mum and dad didn't go to college or uni - why should I?
Truth: Regardless of what your mum and dad did, the fact is that times change, and so do attitudes and opportunities. Your parents may not have gone for loads of different reasons - but chances are, these reasons don't apply to you. Some career choices, mine included, mean that further qualifications are necessary. If your parents still aren't keen on the idea, remind them that if you get your HE qualification, you can earn on average around 50% more over your working life than people without. That should make them think!
Myth 6: Isn't university just for rich people?
Truth: Well my family certainly isn't rich! There's more than one million 18 - 21 year olds currently doing full-time courses at universities and colleges - how is it possible for all of them to be rich? The fact is, students come from such a wide range of backgrounds and different walks of life which only adds to your experience. Most importantly, don't let cash put you off doing further study - financial support is available, you just need to find out what you're eligible for!
Myth 7: They won't have any courses that appeal to me
Truth: Highly unlikely! Deciding which path you want to take can be lots of fun, and there is just so much to choose from. Believe it or not, there are 50,000 courses to choose from at over 500 colleges and universities throughout the UK so there's bound to be something for you out there somewhere!
One industry, eight jobs!
So you fancy yourself as a pop star
Okay, maybe we're not all cut out to be pop stars, but that doesn't mean you can't
follow your passion for music! Have you ever stopped to think about what goes on
behind the scenes in the music biz? Well, believe it or not, there's a whole host of qualified staff needed to make it happen. Your passion for music could lead you down
one of the many exciting paths in the music industry. Here we look at eight professions
in the industry, and find out what you need to get started on these courses.
Way In: Highers, including English, followed by a degree or HND in Marketing and Advertising/ PR.
Job description: Managing press campaigns for artists.
Pros: Hearing new singles first and working with bands.
Cons: Long hours, being on call to the media 24/7
Career Tips: Polydor's Matt Wheeler says "Find work experience and make your CV cool/funny/clever".
Salary potential: From £9,000 to £70,000.
Way in: Highers in Business Studies, Music and English. HND in Business Studies, Business or BA (Hons) Economics.
Job Description: You look for and sign new acts.
Pros: Big bonuses.
Cons: Lots of un-glam travelling.
Career tips: Dan Kennedy from b-unique records says, "Pester people (politely) to get your foot in the door, then make yourself indispensable".
Salary potential: £10,000 to £400,000 as head of an A&R department.
Way in: Highers in Maths, Business Studies or Accountancy, then an Accountancy BA Hons degree.
Job description: You'll sort money for the band, deal with tax returns and collect cash.
Pros: You'll combine your love of music with work.
Cons: It's repetitive and office-bound.
Career tips: Accountant Simon Rourke from Universal Records says, "After training, join an agency that specialises in the music business".
Salary potential: £13,000 up to £80,000
Album cover designer
Way in: Higher Art, HNC/D in Graphic Design, degree in Graphic Design.
Job description: You design sleeves and merchandise.
Pros: It's varied and your work could be famous across the globe.
Cons: You'll always be answerable to marketing departments and pop stars.
Career tips: Marcus Price has designed covers for Sam Mumba and Dru Hill. He says "Build up your portfolio and take it to loads of record labels".
Salary potential: A freelancer's wage starts at £20 an hour.
Way in: Go to college for Dance, Performing Arts or a related subject.
Job description: You dance on shows, music videos and go on tour.
Pros: Travel, getting close to the stars.
Cons: It's very cut-throat and competitive. If you're a blonde and they want a brunette, you're out.
Career tips: Julie Browne has toured with Westlife, appeared on TOTP and in TV shows and musicals. She says, "Stay determined and don't let rejection affect you - every dancer gets turned down once".
Salary potential: From £400 a week for a tour and £200 for a quick TV appearance.
Way in: Good Highers include History and English. A degree is essential but not in law (you can do a postgrad diploma). Training can take seven years.
Job description: Getting bands the best record deal, taking control of copyright, sampling problems and merchandising deals and sorting out any band disputes in court.
Pros: Well paid, skilled, interesting work. You'll get to hang out with bands.
Cons: Lots of paperwork, you'll be stuck in the office most days and it can be very stressful.
Career tips: Nicky Stein is a music lawyer at Clintons Solicitors and works with clients like Stereophonics. He says "Although you need a law qualification you must be interested in the music industry too. When I was at uni I managed a band".
Salary potential: £25,000 (graduate salary) to £60,000+.
Way in: Go for a Media or English degree while also collecting great cuts (examples of your work). You could also do a BA in Journalism or Publishing and Media.
Job description: You give your opinion on new releases and interview bands.
Pros: Free gigs and CDs.
Cons: Late nights, pushy press officers.
Career tips: Kerrang!'s News Editor Nichola Browne says, "Start writing gig or album reviews for your school magazine or find a local fanzine or a webzine that you can get involved with."
From £10-£100 per review. A journalist's salary starts on average at £15,000.
Way in: You could take a HND in Beauty Therapy.
Job description: Powdering the noses of stars for TV, gigs and magazine/video shoots.
Pros: Getting up close and personal with bands, working with swanky photographers in gorgeous locations.
Cons: Lots of waiting around - you need to be on hand all day.
Career tips: Kim Brown, who's worked with Natalie Imbruglia, says, "Do some practice sessions on your mates. Once in the business, you need to stay calm and get on with everyone".
Salary potential: On average around £250 a day.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life when I was at school so I decided to play to my strength - that was English. I loved it. I went on to study English Language and Literature at Glasgow University. The opportunities furthering your education brings are life-long and I would encourage young people to Aimhigher."
"My degree in Communication and my time spent at university in Edinburgh were invaluable and really helped me to get ahead. It gave me the confidence and knowledge needed to achieve my goals, and has helped open up a number of doors for me since."
Young Scots use their heads!
Scotland has a cracking history of well-educated Scots. Think back to John Logie Baird, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Walter Scott and Alexander Fleming. They may have all had different talents, but they certainly all aimed higher too!
Hons graduate Marketing, Queen Margaret's University College
The last thing I wanted to do when I left school was to go onto higher education. For a start I didn't think I had good enough grades to get into university and I thought it would be just like school, which didn't appeal to me. My main aim was to get a job and earn some money.
I got a job as a Customer Service Rep for a large bank. At first the money I got through working was good as I hadn't had much money before, but I knew by improving my qualifications I would have a better chance of earning a really good salary.
Another turning point was that a lot of my friends were at university or college and were having the time of their lives and didn't seem to be skint, which I thought was part and parcel of being a student.
After looking at different prospectuses I was amazed by how many courses are out there. There are so many interesting subjects completely different to anything you got in school. I went to see a careers adviser to help me determine what course would suit me best.
I was quite tentative about going back to studying as I'd been working for a year by then, so I decided to start off with an HNC in PR and Advertising at Stevenson College. I really enjoyed this course and knew then that I was on the right track. From there I applied for a degree in Marketing at Queen Margaret's University College.
I'm now in my final honours year. I used to think that going to college or university wasn't for me but I was wrong, they have been an amazing experience and I've met so many new people. I feel a lot more intelligent, mature and focused. I can see a future ahead of me and plan on working in marketing for a large organisation when I graduate. I have a real sense of achievement and I've also been able to prove the people wrong who didn't think I could do it.
Money hasn't been a problem either, as I've received a lot of financial support and stayed on with the bank on a part-time basis. I do have a student loan but am not worried about paying it off, as with my qualifications I'm fully equipped to get a higher paid job.
Kevin Beaumont, Aberdeen University
Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering
I didn't take the traditional route into university. I initially applied to both Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon's University to study mechanical engineering in sixth year at school. However, I actually ended up turning down a place at Aberdeen University shortly after leaving sixth year as I didn't feel ready, and also by this time I was working as a general farm worker and was making money.
Eight months on from this a friend advised me to apply for an apprenticeship. This was the first time I heard about training through an apprenticeship and didn't realise that this was an option. I applied to Tullos training centre and was accepted by Federal Tait (paper mill) on a four-year apprenticeship as a mechanical fitter.
These four years were absolutely brilliant with a full mix of the practical and the academic, so as well as learning about the industry, I also got to apply the theory in a real working environment.
As part of the requirements, I also had to gain an HNC in mechanical engineering during the apprenticeship. I did this while still working at the paper mill and simply attended a class one day a week for two years. The huge benefit of this was that I was able to get an education while being paid.
From this I went on to do an HND at Aberdeen College by attending evening classes twice a week.
I felt that the apprenticeship and HND qualification had really developed me and made me realise the benefit of qualifications.
I decided to put forward a proposal to the company I was doing the apprenticeship with on how a degree would benefit both myself and them.
This was approved and I attended university for four years to gain a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering. I started university when I was twenty-one. While at university I worked all my holidays and every Saturday with the paper mill. While at university, I managed to progress more at work and benefited from a promotion.
The course was hard work but I feel that it has definitely paid off. Getting my degree this way has given me a lot of knowledge and experience of the industry, and helped me become more mature. I feel that I now have the best of both worlds.
One main benefit of learning this way is that I have always had the financial backing that I needed. I got paid for the hours I worked in addition to studying, and the paper mill definitely benefited from my education as well as myself.
There are many options and routes out there to people for higher education and it is advisable to consider all of them. For those who do not feel that they are clever enough to continue studying after school, if they really want to do it, it can be done. I've really benefited from receiving qualifications and don't think I would be where I am now without them. I'm pleased that I didn't write off higher education altogether and decided to go back to studying.
ads! Young Scots use their heads!
HND Digital Art and Design, Glasgow College of Commerce
College has proved to be a brilliant experience for me both on a social and educational level. When I was at school I had a keen interest in art & design. However, I wasn't quite sure about what to do after leaving school. To begin with, going to college never entered my head as I thought it was only for hairdressers and builders, but I was soon proved wrong.
There are so many different and interesting courses at college. I've taken my love of art and design one step further and am studying an HND in Digital Art and Design. I chose this course because it covers a wide range of design areas, which allows me to develop my skills and find out what areas I enjoy most.
Throughout my course, I have developed a keen interest in photography and plan to study this particular subject further. I'm so glad I did this course as I don't think I would have stumbled upon photography otherwise.
(Hons) Quantity Surveying, Glasgow Caledonian University
The good thing about going to university is that I can concentrate on and learn more about what I enjoy. I've always been interested in construction and technology and knew this would be something that I would be good at. I've never liked the thought of being stuck in an office all day, and by studying this profession I now have some degree of choice over being office or site-based, so it's proved to be a decision that's suited me well.
I've remained at home while studying, which means I have all the 'living at home benefits' of getting my meals cooked and my washing done! I get the bus in and out of uni, which is convenient and cheap.
I've made a great deal of friends from my course and have also joined the university's hockey team, which has led to me being able to visit places like Spain with the team, which is always great fun.
As the exams near however the social side needs to take a back seat and the hard graft starts. The hard work is always justified when the results come out and you get a real sense of self-achievement and can look forward to going out and celebrating.
University has proved to be an amazing experience for me and my qualification means that I'm able to get a better-paid job in an industry I enjoy.
HND Communication with Media, Fife College
I decided to do an HND in communications at Fife College mainly because it was a subject that I was interested in and wanted to explore further. I had no idea of the opportunities that would be opened up to me through going to college.
During my course I pursued a work placement in the Fife College marketing department. Whilst my main aim was to get experience working in a team where I could learn more about the communications sector, it was also a great way to make money during the holidays. It meant I could study and at the same time gain valuable knowledge of what its like to work in a busy marketing department.
Also during my HND I entered a competition run by a local public relations firm, Catchline Communications. They were offering a scholarship to go further in my study of Communications and Media and all I had to do was submit the best examples of my course work. I was thrilled when I found out that I had won the £400 prize and can't believe I am now being paid to study further!
My picture has been featured in several of the local papers for winning the prize and I am looking forward to studying further. None of these opportunities would have been opened up to me if I had not pursued my education. I can now see a future ahead of me and plan on working in marketing or advertising when I graduate.
BSc (Hons) Computing, Glasgow Caledonian University
There are so many colleges and universities and so many courses that there is always something out there for everyone. I decided to study computing as I really enjoyed it at school and wanted to take it further.
My university has proved to be a home from home for me. It's a really friendly place with excellent facilities.
The main thing I've loved about my course is being able to complete a sandwich placement for one year between my degree and honours. I have just finished one year working in the computer department at British Telecommunications Plc, which has been a fantastic and invaluable learning experience for me.
There is always plenty of help and advice at university. You'll get help on careers, finance, your studies and even personal life!
The social side of uni life is brilliant and there are always plenty of part-time jobs for those looking to earn more money. You have to learn to balance the social aspect with your workload, but this is not too hard because at uni your studying something you're really interested in.
The most important contact details you'll ever need
Add these website addresses to your favourites folder and save the numbers to your mobile phone! There's a wealth of information online, and a host of helpful advisors waiting to answer any questions. And remember, any question is a good one - so ask whatever you want to know!
If you haven't already visited our website, go towww.aimhigherscotland.ac.uknow.
To contact your local Careers Scotland adviser call 0845 850 2502 or visitwww.careers-scotland.org.uk. There are 80 local offices in Scotland alone, so there's definitely one you can visit!
www.enquire.org.ukgives you information about school, education and choices at 16+. You can call for advice on 0845 123 2303.
The Students Awards Agency for Scotland is jam-packed full of information on financial support. Call them on 0845 111 1711 or go online atwww.saas.gov.uk
www.learndirectscotland.comto help you decide what, where and how you want to learn.
www.ceg.org.ukgives information on full-time and part-time courses at Scottish universities and colleges.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority can help you understand what qualifications you need to follow your dream career.
Go online atwww.sqa.org.uk
www.skill.org.uk/scotlandhas information on the opportunities and funding available for disabled learners. You can also contact Skill Scotland on 0131 475 2348.
Education Maintenance Allowances provide financial support to young people from low-income families. Click onwww.emascotland.comfor more details.
www.ucas.comgives a list of all the university courses available and the qualifications you need to get there.