Options at 18

Any questions about careers, university or generally about your future please call in to see a member of The Careers Team.

The main options at 18 are as follows:

  • University
  • Gap Year
  • School leaver schemes or apprenticeships
  • Employment

Thinking of going to university?

In many areas of life, a university degree is still essential and if you want to secure a good financial future for yourself and your family, university is a good place to start.  Did you know that over an average 40 year working lifetime a graduate will earn £415,320 more than someone without a degree? (Labour Force Survey Figures)  And, if you have encountered an academic subject you love and want the opportunity to explore it more fully and meet others who share your interests, university is the place for you.

The decision to go to university has to be taken alongside the choice of a specific subject.  There are several options here: choosing something you like, choosing something you are good at, choosing a qualification, or all three! Whatever you decide to do at university, you’ll be able to pursue it for three years or more with expert guidance and tuition and in a place with excellent resources.

Students at Thomas Telford Sixth Form apply to university via the APPLY System linked to the UCAS website.

All 6.1 students start their applications during in Careers Week in July, when they have the opportunity to meet university staff and students, attend employer talks and take part in employability skills workshops.

Important advice:

  • Start your research as soon as possible – allow yourself enough time to look into the various courses and different universities! 
  • Visit as many University Open Days as you can – you will never get ‘the feel’ of the place through reading a glossy prospectus –
  • Speak to as many current students as you can – they will be able to give you important insider knowledge –

Gap years

Some students choose to take a gap year before starting university, either to travel, volunteer, gain some valuable work experience or just earn some money.  If you’re not quite ready to embark on further study but you do want to go to university, then a gap year could be for you. 

Further information on gap year opportunities is available here, check out the advice on the Prospects website, and call in to Careers to discuss your plans.


About 20% of our students choose to secure full time employment once they leave school. The Careers Team can help you with your CV, job search and interview techniques. In addition, a number of companies contact the School to offer career opportunities for our Sixth Forms leavers. See The Careers Team for more information.

School leaver schemes and apprenticeships

School leaver programme and apprenticeships are being offered by an increasing number of firms to students who are bright and motivated but do not want to go to university. They provide training in a specific career sector, allowing students to gain experience and professional qualifications in their chose career whilst earning a salary. They typically last 3-4 years and in most cases you will be ahead, in career terms, of your peers who decided to go down the university route.

Have a look at our ‘Employment and apprenticeship’ page for more detailed information on opportunities. The Careers Team will work with you to identify the right scheme for you and support you throughout your application.

Studying Abroad

Some students today go to study abroad rather than staying in England. For more information on this visit the Study Overseas website or the International Education for studying abroad website.

Some other useful links:

Studying in Europe:

BUTEX promotes mobility between universities and collges in the UK and North America:

If you are thinking of studying in the US:

For all other countries:

Bursaries and scholarships:

MERCERS' Educational Grants

The Mercers’ Company Educational Trust Fund enables needy students to apply for grants for University study. Applications are made through the School and numerous students have received financial help since the School opened in 1991.

Preparing for Results Day and University

UCAS Guide to Higher Education

Important Deadlines

5th September 2023

2024 entry applicants can pay and send their applications to UCAS from today.

16th October 2023 

2024 entry deadline for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry should arrive at UCAS by 18:00 (UK time).

31st January 2024

Applications for all UCAS Undergraduate courses, except those with a 16th October deadline, should arrive at UCAS by 18:00 (UK time).

28th February 2024

2024 Extra opens today. If a student has used all five choices and is not holding an offer, they can add another choice using Extra.

16th May 2024

2024 entry: Uni/college decisions due on applications submitted by 31st January.

6th June 2024

2024 entry: If you receive all decisions by 16th May, reply by 6th June.

30th June 2024

Last date for receipt of applications with choices by 18:00 (UK time). 2024 entry applications received after 30th June are automatically entered into Clearing.

4th July 2024

Last date to apply in Extra for 2024 entry.

5th July 2024

2024 entry Clearing opens and vacancies are shown in the UCAS search tool.

15th August 2024

2024 A level results day. Careers support service available in School.

25th September 2024

Final date for 2024 entry applications.

21st October 2024

Last date to add 2024 entry Clearing Choices.

Destinations of 6.2 Students in August '23

  • 71% students progressed to university or Stage School in the UK or abroad
  • 20% have secured/will secure employment/apprenticeships (n.59)
  • 5% are taking a planned gap year (n.16)
  • 3% students are returning for 6.3 (n.9)
  • 1% have progressed to further education or foundation year courses (n.3)