Alternatives to A-Levels

Alternatives to A-Levels

Please note that this ‘Alternatives to A-Levels post will be a long one however, it is a big decision. I shall start this post by saying that I am probably not the best person to give advice on alternatives. Depression tampered with my decisions but I will still stand by them. However, I believe my experience with A-Levels and apprenticeships may have the potential to help you. If you’re struggling to decide, keep reading.

Not everyone wants to stay on at school. It’s okay if you do and it’s okay if you don’t. I know a lot of people who are doing well with their A levels and others that are doing well without.

Usually schools don’t tend to promote the alternatives so it is down to you to do the research yourself. 

My Experience with A- Levels

I hope this post might help you make a decision. I will tell you about my experience with A levels because I feel like it holds an important message.

My dream was to be doctor. I had all of the potential unis lined up in my head. I did really well in my GCSE’s and decided to continue onto a college that I loved.

However, I found them really bloody hard. I was doing maths, chemistry, biology and history. I dropped history about a month into starting my A levels and dropped our completely after two months. It was a tough decision. I was crying myself to sleep every night thinking shit, I had such a good plan. However, I knew it was the best decision for me. A girl I was at college with dropped out on the same day. She’s now happily in an opticians apprenticeship, training to be a dispensary optician. She then has the potential to study to become an optician.

My Experience with Apprenticeships

My apprenticeship were really kind and understood my reasons for leaving.

Continuing with my journey of school and work, I spent a couple of months really contemplating what I wanted to do. I had taken an interest in accountancy and somehow bagged myself an amazing accountancy apprenticeship. It was such a good opportunity, the company already told me they were planning to keep me even after the two years were over. I was studying AAT one day a week at college and working the other four. However, my mental health began to really deteriorate. I loved that job, I loved everyone there but I had to give it up for the sake of my mental health. This was on no way a reflection of apprenticeships, this was just part of my struggle.

What my experience with leaving school has taught me is that there is a really difficult jump between school and work. It defiantly takes it’s toll on you. To prepare, I would recommend getting a part time job as it gets you used to working hours.


Apprenticeships are an amazing alternative to A Levels. A family friend of ours told me that “I was earning and learning, without any student debt.” There are a lot more brilliant opportunities in apprenticeships now. I used to think of apprenticeships as practical subjects like joinery or training to be a builder but there are tonnes more options. Accountancy, administration, optician, and laboratory assistant. There are even opportunities to become a solicitor through apprenticeships! They would defiantly have been my first choice if I had known what amazing opportunities there are.

If you are in the UK and think an apprenticeship might be for you, check out the apprenticeship website. Here, you can search based on a certain category or see what is available in your area.

BTEC Courses

I guess I’m just trying to tell you there are more options than you maybe realise. A Levels aren’t for everyone. Everyone seems to overlook BTEC courses but they are brilliant. I’m currently considering doing a Fashion Design BTEC. I probably won’t because I struggling with college and the pressure that comes with it but it is still an option for me.

BTEC courses are really well specialised and give a lot more hands on experience than most A Levels. If you are headset on something but don’t think A Levels are for you, look into the BTEC options and where they can get you. Don’t overlook them, they can be amazing doorways to your future.

What about just going out and working?

Right, I’m going to start this section by saying this is illegal under UK laws. According to the law you must be in some form of education until you are 18. These forms can either be staying on at school for either A Levels or BTEC’s, apprenticeships or joining the army. (If you are considering the UK army and have any questions email me as I have family in the army and can potentially give you some advice or point you towards someone else who will. So really, this isn’t an alternative to a-levels however, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare to go out and work before your 18.

Here’s an example, lets say you want to start a craft business. You could do a course that links into your business idea for them two years. Spend that time building up supplies and funds. You can begin researching websites where you can sell your crafts like etsy. If you are a determined person and believe that this is the option for you, then you are one step closer to achieving your goal.

Something to remember is that yes, this is a big life decision but it is nothing to worry and stress about. Life is meant to be enjoyed. You can always change your mind, there is noting wrong with that.

I hope this post has helped you realise there are plenty of alternatives to a-levels if they are not an option for you. If I have done the opposite and confused you even more you are welcome to email me at or DM me on twitter @walkwith_jess.

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