Over today and tomorrow, students all over the country will start going back to school. Whether it be year 1, year 13, having just picked your GCSE options, or A level options, I think most people are dreading the return to the early mornings, dark nights and stacks of work.

Those returning to school for their final year are facing an important decision; specifically those returning for year 13. I am in year 13 and I am terrified. This year is your final year in a school/college environment. Where do you go next? What are your options? Do you pick a university? Apply for an apprenticeship? Take a gap year? The opportunities are endless. It’s up to you where you go next, and that can be a scary thought. Fortunately, there are some questions you can ask yourself to aid your decision.

Do you want to continue with a formal education?

If you’ve liked the style of education so far, and the exams haven’t been too overwhelming for you, then maybe university is the way to go. The style of university means you have to motivate yourself to attend lectures and work more on your own without the push of your teachers/lecturers. If you have been to a college, you probably have a head start in this area.

Does experience worry you?

If so, perhaps an apprenticeship is more your style. If you can’t do an apprenticeship in the field you are looking for, maybe you should take a gap year to volunteer at an organisation which does what you want to do. It my be worth finding out whether what you think you want to do is actually what you want to do. For example, one of my friends wanted to be an accountant and was fully prepared to go to university to do so. However, shortly after starting a small course in accountancy, she discovered it wasn’t for her and now she isn’t going to uni because she doesn’t want to go until she knows for certain what she wants to be.

Where do you want to be in 5 years time?

This can help you view each route a little more clearly and decide which route is most likely going to get you to where you want to be. Is a year travelling around America really going to help you get a job in biochemistry? Maybe it will, but analyse all of your options. Don’t rule any out if you haven’t seriously considered them.

A website I have found really helpful is http://www.notgoingtouni.co.uk/ . It lets you look at so many different options, and you can have a look to see the opportunities in a given field of interest.

Even if you still have no clue as to what you want to do, that doesn’t matter. You don’t need a plan. There are so many options, and sometimes, it’s better to see what life throws at you without having a plan in place.