With So Many Alternative Options, Is University Still Worth It?

With So Many Alternative Options, Is University Still Worth It?

What's new?

With there being so many available options for young people after school, many parents and young people are wondering if going to university is still worth it. 

Well, like many other things, university has its pros and cons that also depend on your goals and career aspirations. Here are a few reasons why university may be worth it to you and some information on alternative options for young people after school. 

Benefits of going to university
There are many considerable benefits of going to university that you should think about. After all, there is a reason that going to university remains the most popular choice for young people after school. 

  • Going from school to a full-time career can be a little daunting for young people. University offers a learning environment that can support young people while also giving them a chance to be more independent and take control of their learning. You will learn professional skills and knowledge that is important for your career, but you will also learn many important life skills such as managing your time effectively and formulating your own opinions.
  • A university degree will open up many career opportunities for you after you graduate. Many career fields, especially those that are highly-skilled, will require a university degree, while other career fields will allow you to move easily from an entry-level position to a higher level if you have a degree qualification. 
  • A university degree increases your chances of getting a better salary once you start working. Entry-level employees with degrees often earn more than those with none.
  • If you go to a well-established university, it increases your chances of securing opportunities such as working abroad. Many universities also offer exchange programmes that will allow you to study abroad for a semester or two.
  • University life offers you the chance to experience many new things, meet people from all around the world, and take part in extracurricular activities that will develop existing and new interests from sports to music to politics.

Alternatives to university
Not everyone can go to university, unfortunately, or at least not straight from school. This could be due to financial limitations, not getting the required grades, or universities simply not having enough space to accommodate every young person after school.

Thankfully, there are many alternatives to going to university and even alternative pathways to getting into a university or getting a degree. Some of these alternatives are within the higher education system while others offer completely different opportunities. 

  • Apprenticeships
    Apprenticeship programmes are a fantastic and credible alternative to going to university.  These programmes can be joined after you complete your GCSEs or after you complete your A-Levels. The best part about apprenticeships is the fact that you will be able to build your career experience and even earn an income while you are learning. This on-the-job experience can be vital for your career path, especially in practical career fields. In fact, if you complete a degree apprenticeship which means you will attain a degree, your work experience can actually set you apart from university graduates. The only difference is the fact that getting a degree through an apprenticeship will take you a little longer compared to university. However, it is certainly much more cost-effective.
  • Online Learning
    The internet is a powerful and effective learning tool where you can build new skills and learn important topics through a range of online courses and programmes. These courses can also be used to attain a degree from credible online and distance learning institutions which will cost you a lot less compared to studying at a full-time university. These online courses can also be done in your own time and from the comfort of your own home, which gives you the opportunity to work while you study part-time. There are also many free online courses offered by reputable organisations and learning institutions that can help you build useful practical skills from digital marketing to photography. 
  • Entrepreneurship
    If you have a business idea, product or service that you can’t wait to share with the world, then why not think about starting a business? Entrepreneurship is a bold alternative to university, but it can be just as rewarding if not even more rewarding for you. In the age of technology and opportunity, starting a business has also become a lot easier – you literally can start a business from the comfort of your own home. Being an entrepreneur can also be a part-time option when you first begin, giving you the opportunity to build useful skills or get a job before you become a full-time business owner. Entrepreneurship does take a lot of hard work, determination and resilience, but if you can set your mind to it, it is definitely both possible and profitable.

So, is university still worth it? Well, simply put, the answer lies with you! It depends on your career goals, aspirations and future plans. What’s actually more important to note is that university is not the only option for you after school, and there are a wealth of alternative options for you to choose from.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

How To Get The Most Out Of Going To University

How To Get The Most Out Of Going To University

What's new?

University education opens the doors to a bigger, better and opportunity-filled world for its graduates. According to the UN, not only are university graduates better paid in the workplace but compared to high school graduates, they have longer life spans, better access to health care, better dietary and health practices and increased economic stability and security.

Most of us have expectations of what university is like based on what we see in movies and TV shows. But actually, the incredible thing about university is that it can be anything you want it to be!

It can be a creative outlet for artistic expression or a hub for intellectual debate. It can a place for you to discover your strengths and abilities or to discover something completely new about yourself. It can be a place to meet new people from all around the world, and a place to have plenty of fun while also studying something you are actually passionate about.

With this being said, there is also no doubt that transitioning from a high school graduate to a university student can be a little daunting, especially if you are uncertain of what to expect. To help you make a smoother transition from school to university and to help you get the most of your university experience, we have listed 8 useful tips below.

Choose your university courses carefully
Consider your interests as well as which courses would be best for your career choice. Avoid choosing courses because they appear to be an easy option as you may not like or be able to engage with the content. Moreover, avoid choosing courses just because a friend is doing it – you will definitely meet new people and make new friends in every course you do. Take your time doing your research about various courses and ask for advice from academic counsellors to make well-informed choices.

Be the master of your fate and the captain of your ship
Your first few weeks at university will be a little daunting as you juggle various assignments and keep up with numerous classes. One way to overcome this is to view university as a great big ocean with endless wonderful possibilities. You have the chance to try different academic programmes, learn from experts and the best minds in your field, and explore your academic passions. Think of yourself as the captain of a ship navigating through these waters. This means you need to be in charge and take control of this journey or else you run the risk of being swept away by heavy storms. You can do this by keeping track of your deadlines, attending classes and tutorials regularly, and taking a proactive role in your studies. This will make university a calm sea to navigate.

Immerse yourself in student life
University is usually one of the only times in your life where you will have the chance to move out of your comfort zone, try new things, be exposed to new opportunities, and connect with people of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone and be open to the many social and networking opportunities that are available for you to get involved in. If you are not sure how to get involved in campus life, get in touch with your university’s student council. Student councils often lead various student associations, societies, and initiatives like sporting clubs, cultural societies, debate teams etc.

Always prioritise your studies
Whilst it may be easy to get distracted by the social and fun aspects of university life, it is very important to remember why you are there. At the end of your undergraduate career, you will need to graduate with a degree, and with good grades as well. It is therefore important to maintain a balance between having fun and studying. Do not risk an assignment deadline or studying for an exam to attend a party or a social event. The wonderful thing about university life is that there are always social events throughout the year, so study first and have fun later.

Attend extracurricular lectures and seminars
Most universities invite guest speakers and lecturers who are subject-matter experts and leaders in their respective fields. These guest lectures are usually freely available and are unique opportunities to learn something new in your field or in a completely different field and to meet some really interesting and innovative people who will be a great source of inspiration. These events will also be a great opportunity for networking.

Make use of university resources
Universities offer their students various resources to help them excel in their studies including well-equipped libraries, study rooms, free internet access, state-of-the-art sporting facilities and so much more.  Find out what your university has to offer and instead of spending your own money on expensive services outside the university, you can utilise the excellent free resources your university provides for you.

Be open to new opportunities
Most universities offer opportunities for students to apply for bursaries, university exchange programmes or to earn money whilst studying.  Find out about these opportunities and don’t be afraid to apply to be a part of them. These opportunities are great for preparing you for the working world and exposing you to new cultures and ways of thinking.

Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Universities offer a plethora of health and wellness resources on campus to help students who feel overwhelmed, homesick, stressed or who are just simply in need of a friendly ear. Your mental and emotional health is as important as your physical wellbeing, so reach out to people you trust or your university’s student health services for guidance.

As a final word of advice, don’t forget to enjoy your journey through university.  The movies and TV shows got one thing right about university- they are usually some of the best years of your life!

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

7 Things to look into if you are considering obtaining your Degree in the USA

7 Things to look into if you are considering obtaining your Degree in the USA

What's new?

Studying abroad has become a very common option for young people over the years with the USA being the most popular student destination. According to InternationalStudents.com, the USA has the largest international student population with over 1 million international students pursuing educational opportunities each year.

Students are said to choose the USA for a number of reasons including academic excellence, advanced technology and research opportunities, a variety of educational opportunities, cultural education and an efficient support service for its international students.

Before you decide to study in the USA, there a number of things that an interested student should prepare in order to be considered as an international student in the USA and to get accepted into an American educational institution. Here are 7 things you should look into.

Do extensive research on the various educational institutions across the country
The USA has a number of state and private institutions positioned in different states offering similar majors and activities. However, it is important to note that these majors and activities also differ due to each states distinct identity which includes factors such as the climate, culture, and the economy. It is therefore advised that a student should read up on states and its institutions, and choose to study in an environment that compliments their personality, preferences and educational interests.
For instance, Washington offers six state universities and 24 private institutions to choose from, each offering a number of different majors and activities. This state can get up to 500 cm of rain yearly, very cold temperatures in winter and heat waves in summer. Universities in Washington benefit from the local economy which means industries such as computer software development, tourism, biotechnology, agriculture and telecommunications are advanced. Washington also offers professional and club sports such as basketball, football, soccer, ice hockey and baseball for sports fanatics. In addition, it boasts beautiful terrain, lakes and mountains where one can hike, camp, ski and enjoy a horse ride. Therefore, students looking to thrive in such industries, sports and activities, and who can easily adapt to this climate, may consider studying in Washington.

Read up on the university that you want to apply to and make sure you have backup options
After reading up on the different states and institutions, you will need to make a decision on the university you want to attend. This can be influenced by the subjects or the fields of study that the institutions offer, internship opportunities, and the top schools offering your degree of choice. You should also include backup options in case you don’t get into your first choice university.

Complete your application to the university
At this point, you would be ready to apply to your preferred institution. Thorough planning and time management is needed for the success of this process as a lot of documentation and arrangements need to be done correctly. The list below shows what this process includes:

  • Give yourself sufficient time to apply. This means to start the application process as early as possible as this affords you the time to read the application instructions and requirements thoroughly and properly. It gives you time to complete the application form with no errors and to provide necessary documentation as per specifications. It is suggested that a student starts this process 18 months before the academic year begins.
  • Institutions with competitive admissions usually require a significant amount of effort in their applications, including writing personal statements, requesting recommendations from your past teachers or tutors, and signing up for entrance exams such as the SAT, ACT and TOEFL to meet application standards. You should prepare for the above tasks by researching how to do them correctly and when to do them so you will have enough time to complete them.
  • School curriculums differ in each country therefore institutions accepting international students need to verify the authenticity of your documents and the status of the school you attended. This means your school may have to submit your transcripts to a credential evaluator who will examine your transcripts and translate them according to the American curriculum.

Apply for a VISA
One of the most important tasks when considering to study in the USA is applying for your VISA. There are different visas that could be issued to a student, namely the F1 Visa, M1 Visa and J1 Visa.
The F1 Visa is for full-time students enrolled in an academic programme. This visa does allow part-time employment on campus with a maximum of 20 hours per week and it allows for the student to work on optional practical training (OPT) for up to a year after completing their academic programme.
The M1 Visa is issued to a student attending a vocational school and holders of this visa are not permitted to work during their studies. Moreover, M1 students need to prove that they have sufficient funds to pay for their studies and living costs for the duration of the stay.
The J1 Visa is issued to students who need to acquire practical training to complete their academic programme, which is unavailable in their home country. Employment opportunities are the same as those for F1 Visa students.
A student would need one of the above visas to qualify to study in the USA. Furthermore, they would need to prove they can support themselves financially and provide health insurance evidence to cover any medical expenses they may need.

Understand the costs
Financial stability is important for students considering studying abroad. It is important to calculate how much money you will need for the academic programme, books and overall living expenses for the duration of your stay. There are also many international loans, scholarships and bursaries that institutions and organizations offer to international students which you can choose to apply for.

Set up reliable communication methods
To keep in touch with loved ones back home, you should make sure you set up accounts with different communication apps to keep in touch with loved one such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber. These come in very handy when you start feeling homesick.

Plan ahead for your student life
Finally, plan ahead for your life beyond the classroom. For example, you should include extramural activities and travel in your budget. You should look into public transport options around your university and the amenities available such as restaurants and retail places. You should also research the extramural activities that your university offers such as student clubs and societies so that you can enjoy the full experience.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

LSE CHOICE helps young people get into university!

LSE CHOICE helps young people get into university!

What's new?

The London School of Economics and Political Science runs a free programme to help young people get into university.

LSE CHOICE gives talented young people from London state schools and colleges the tools they need to successfully apply to LSE and other highly selective universities.

Each year, LSE CHOICE works with 180 students from under-represented backgrounds. Students apply for a place on one of five LSE CHOICE subject streams:

  • Economics
  • Government and Politics
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Sociology

The programme includes a Summer School and Saturday sessions:

Summer School
The non-residential Summer School lasts for five days from 19 – 23 August 2019. Participants study a subject of interest to them and take sessions designed to develop their key skills and critical thinking. Current LSE academic staff and research students, external speakers and experienced subject teachers deliver subject enhancement sessions. It also includes university information sessions which are delivered by staff from the LSE Recruitment and Admissions teams.

Saturday Sessions
The two-hour Saturday sessions run on 16 Saturday mornings during the autumn and spring terms of Year 13. Each session focuses on an important area of the subject, encouraging students to think more broadly about the topic. Participants are expected to use the LSE Library and are also encouraged to attend LSE public lectures.

Participation is free of charge and lunch is provided on each day of the Summer School. Students are given an attendance allowance of £20 for each Saturday session, which includes a contribution towards transport costs.

Would your child like to be a part of this fantastic programme? Find more information hereThe deadline for applications is Sunday 10th March 2019 at  11.59pm.

7 Traits of parents with successful children

7 Traits of parents with successful children

Parents

There is no set manual to follow when raising successful children, but psychological research has narrowed down a few factors that will most likely result in success. It comes as no surprise that a majority of the responsibility lies with the parents. Although it is not entirely up to the parents, there are a few things parents with successful children have in common. Let’s look at 7 traits of parents with successful children.

Make them do Chores:

Making children do chores from a young age will teach your child that hard work pays off. Most importantly, chores also imprint a sense of responsibility on a child. Always ensure the chores are age appropriate and that they do receive some type of praise or remuneration for it. Chores can range from picking up toys and putting them back inside the box, washing dishes, mowing the lawn or walking the dog.

Give them pocket money:

Give children pocket money, whether in the form of payment for chores, they have completed or an allowance they get weekly or monthly. You can sit down with them and work out a weekly budget, teaching them how to set out money for spending and saving. It will teach them the value of money and also how to work with their money. It is important, however, not to give them more money when they run out of their own. This will defeat the purpose. They also need to learn the importance of saving, even if it is saving for a fancy bicycle or a new gaming centre they would like to have.

Teach them not to be afraid of failure:

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure” – Colin Powell. You want your kids to develop a growth mindset. You want them to view failure, which is inevitable, as a chance to learn and grow – not as a dead end. They must know to keep at it and not give up on the first try.

Let them learn to be tolerant:  

Being tolerant to different types of people with different personalities is a very important trait to have. It is just wrong if a person looks down on another. Your child should learn to be the Good Samaritan. This will result in great respect from their peers. In addition, children should also know the principle of putting themselves in other people’s shoes first before judging. That way they can understand why certain things happen and how to deal with these situations when they arise. For example, you can introduce this by explaining why a school bully might be acting out in a certain way.

Encourage entrepreneurship:  

Based on research by Bill Murphy Jr., a renowned entrepreneur, the majority of today’s entrepreneurs were encouraged to act like entrepreneurs at an early age. These included personally observing an entrepreneur while growing up and being constantly challenged by their parents to come up with ways that they think they can make money. You can help your child by setting up a lemonade stand in the front yard to sell to the neighbourhood and taking part in school market days.

Praise them for hard work:  

The way we praise our children has an effect on how they view their success. When they earn a high score on a math test or win a sports trophy, it is important to praise them for their hard work and perseverance, not just telling them that their success was a direct result of them being smart or talented. If we do not praise them this way, their confidence can suffer a knock when they try and don’t succeed at first. Although we want to compliment our children, we also want them to know that although they have a natural talent, hard work is always required and that it always pays off. This will nurture a growth mindset.

Remember to be their role model:  

Our children look up to us as their parents from the day they are born. We are the first example of trust, love, empathy and respect they will have in this world. How we deal with failure and how we celebrate success is constantly being observed by our children. You need to set examples of the type of person you would like your child to be. The “do as I say, not as I do” method is not one that often succeeds. You want your child to trust you and strive to be like you, not to obey you out of fear of being punished for not following the rules. It is likely that the moment you are not around, they might just do the exact opposite of what they were told. They need to want to follow the rules. They need to want to succeed because you succeeded.

Raising a successful child is a conversation that many of us parents have engaged in before and one that can carry on for an infinite amount of time. We hope you found this topic insightful.

GT Scholars strives in providing mentoring, tutoring and enrichment to children from diverse backgrounds. Feel free to contact us to learn how GT scholars can help your child reach even higher heights.

7 Ways to Prepare For an Interview

7 Ways to Prepare For an Interview

Young people

There are many times in life when you will find yourself needing to prepare for an interview. It could be your sixth-form college, university, or job interviews. So preparing yourself for an interview is a valuable and important skill to always have.

Interviews are notoriously difficult to prepare for. Some organisations and companies are kind enough to tell you exactly how or what to prepare, but most places will not do this for you. The whole point of the interview is for them to see how you think, apply your skills and talents, or react to a situation or scenario. They want to make sure that you will be an asset and a good fit for their college, university or company.

Your aim for the interview is to convince the recruiters that you have the skills, knowledge and experience for the job while also showing them that you fit the organisation’s culture and work ethic. Here are seven valuable ways that you can prepare yourself to reach this aim: 

Do your research about the college, university or company:

The recruiters need to know that you are interested in their organisation and not just using them for your gain. They might ask you direct questions about their organisation, or they might ask you more indirect questions. You need to do enough research about the organisation beforehand to make sure you can answer their questions well. Visit the organisation’s website to ensure you understand what they do, their background and mission statement, and the courses or products. You can also get more perspective about the organisation by reading about them in news or trade publications.

Compare your skills and qualifications to the entrance, course or job requirements:

Thoroughly analyse the entrance requirements or job description and outline the knowledge, skills or abilities they list. Ensure that you are suitable for the organisation and that your qualifications match or better what they seek. If they list a particular skill, they may want you to demonstrate if you know how to do it, so you should ensure that you have the skill and are well-practised.

Prepare responses to commonly asked questions:

Most interviews have a set list of questions they are sure to ask, such as your strengths and weaknesses, academic or career goals, etc. You should prepare your responses to questions like these beforehand to answer them quickly. You should also understand that there are different ways to ask the same question; for example, they could ask you about your qualities that are useful to their organisation instead of your strengths. These questions can be answered almost the same way, so ensure you can identify that.

Plan what you are going to wear:

Your appearance is your first impression, so you should ensure they do not rule you out before you even tell them about you. Be sure that your overall appearance is neat and clean. It is best to dress smartly in neutral colours, with your clothes clean and ironed and your hair combed and out of your face.

Prepare what you need to take to the interview:

You should plan what you need to take to the interview to look prepared. Some organisations will tell you what they want you to bring to the discussion. Still, if not, then you should take the following: at least one copy of your transcripts or CV on quality paper, a notepad or professional binder and pen, a list of references, the information you might need to complete an application, and a portfolio with samples of your work if relevant.

Understand and pay attention to nonverbal communication:

Nonverbal communication speaks volumes and dramatically influences your impression and your interview. As you walk into the building, ensure you are mindful of your nonverbal communication, even in the waiting room. Show that you are confident but do not appear arrogant. Smile, establish eye contact and use a firm handshake. Sit well and be aware of nervous movements such as tapping your foot. Maintain good eye contact while answering questions – do not look around too much, as this will make you seem inattentive. Be aware of your facial expressions and reactions, and keep adverse reactions internalised. At the same time, do not appear too fake or rigid. Be comfortable and self-assured.

Prepare questions that you can ask them at the end of the interview:

Interviews usually end with an opportunity for you to ask questions or clarify any queries. Be strategic with questioning and ask questions about information not discussed in the discussion or found on the organisation’s website. For example, what are the most important criteria for success in this job, how will your performance be evaluated, or what is the next step in the hiring process? Using your prior research, you can develop a list of insightful questions.
This will both impress them and provide you with helpful information.

The interview process may seem daunting and challenging. Still, as you can see, with the proper preparation and prior knowledge, you can display your best qualities for any potential sixth-form college, university or employer.

GT Scholars is a social enterprise that provides tutoring, mentoring and enrichment to young people from various backgrounds. Contact us to find out how we can provide you with a knowledgeable mentor or insightful course to help you prepare for interviews.

Choosing a university course? 5 tips from a recent graduate to help you make the right choice

Choosing a university course? 5 tips from a recent graduate to help you make the right choice

University

So you’ve been working hard preparing for university, you’re pretty sure you’ll get the grades, and maybe you even know which university you’ll go to… but there’s a huge decision you need to make. Which university course will you study?

According to UCAS, there are 37,000 undergraduate courses at over 370 universities across the UK. Many factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding the course that is right for you. We’ve listed five things to consider when choosing your future degree course.

1. Choose something you are passionate about

This tip may seem obvious, but I can’t stress this enough. Remember that you’ll spend at least three years studying your chosen subject. If you aren’t passionate about your topic, you’ll likely find it harder to motivate yourself and won’t enjoy the experience. A mixture of passion for your issue and hard work will stand you in great stead for your time at university.

2. Look at the course content

It’s essential to research the specific details of your course. You may find that one university has modules in your subject that interest you far more than the modules in the same subject at another university. Be sure to look at the second and third-year modules, as well as the first year, as this will give a good indication of the direction of your course.

3. Check league tables & specialities

League tables can be a good indicator of any course’s quality. Several respected league tables are published every year, such as Also, note that different universities excel at other subjects, so make sure you research the reputation of your potential universities regarding your chosen topic. Read more about league tables and other tips about choosing a university in our blog here. 

4. Think about your career direction

  It may seem a little early to think about career decisions but keep in mind the paths your course opens up for you. It is an obvious point, but some professions need people with degrees in specific subjects, so if you know what you want to do later in life, you may want to tailor your qualification to that profession. If you are not sure what you want to do in later life, don’t panic. A degree opens up many more paths than it closes, and you are not limited to working in a career directly related to your degree.   

5. Look into degrees that offer something unique:

Many degrees in the UK offer unique opportunities, such as sandwich placements, where you spend a year working in a company, usually between your second and third years. Other degrees offer add-on credits so you can graduate with a double degree or a degree plus a language. Another popular choice is a degree with the opportunity to study abroad for a year. This can be an excellent opportunity to meet new travel the world, meet new people and complete your degree simultaneously.

We hope this gives you a good idea of how to start your search for a degree course. For more hints and tips on universities and careers, visit the GT Scholars blog at www.gtscholars.org/blog