Column: University isn’t the only way to do what you dream of

A level results at Sheffield College Hillsborough. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1004/65d
A level results at Sheffield College Hillsborough. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1004/65d
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To thousands of students across Sheffield, Thursday must feel like Judgement Day.

There will have been some sleepless nights before now and a few still to come before the results of two years’ hard work are revealed.

A lot has changed since the day I collected my results, now over a decade ago.

Now, students can find out that they have got into their university of choice without even going in to school, with trembling hands and groups of friends, to collect the brown envelope together. All they need to do is turn on their computer.

There probably aren’t as many boozy celebrations afterwards either. Students today seem much more classy than the class of 2005.

But one thing that seems to be the same is the astonishment that people have when they find out you didn’t go, or aren’t planning to go, to university.

‘How are you a journalist, then?” most of them ask.

The answer is lots of work experience, quite a bit of luck, an industry qualification at Sheffield College and what equates to an apprenticeship over two years of in-work training.

I did get in to university, but didn’t go due to what seemed like traumatic financial reasons at the time.

Today, it is one of the best things that ever happened.

Work has shaped every element of my life.

I learned more about journalism, myself and the world in two years of an apprenticeship than I ever could have studying.

There’s no asking for an extra week or missing a deadline when you are doing it for real.

There’s only one shot when it comes to the big interview for the front page.

In journalism, you can have a degree but still need the industry qualifications to actually work anyway.

And as a bonus I got paid - granted it was peanuts at the start but it covered rent in a shared Sheffield house and the odd bottle of rose wine, which was all I needed, without racking up thousands of pounds of debt.

There is a growing skills gap in the UK - there just aren’t enough people going into careers such as science, technology and, er, chicken sexing - at the moment.

If university IS your dream, then go for it.

Enjoy every last second and work those socks off, as well as the student discount card.

If not, there’s a whole other world of possibility out there. Good luck, everyone.