Help! I want to go to university, but I don’t have any qualifications…
Hey, firstly it’s super cool that you’re choosing to go to uni, and actually, it’s not as uncommon as you might think to secure a place without traditional qualifications like GCSEs and A levels.
A levels have been around since the 1950s and they’re traditionally considered the benchmark for university entry. So it might feel like you’ve missed the boat if you don’t have them (even more so if you also don’t have any GCSEs either).
This might have been true a few years ago. But unis are starting to change their perspective on what makes the perfect uni candidate.
Today, unis aren’t just looking at alternative qualifications, work, and even life experiences, but also offering students special courses tailored for people who haven’t followed the traditional route into higher education.
It’s all about your sense of drive and confidence in the direction you want to take. So for example, if you are a social influencer with a passion for digital media or an entrepreneurial business owner with a passion for international relations - your experiences and passions add up to something unis want to invest in.
In this way, your personal statements will glow amongst a sea of cookie-cutter applications.
OK, those are the special cases with special achievements… what about me?
For those of us who perhaps haven’t had the opportunity to develop our entrepreneurial spirit, but still have valuable life experiences and the drive to succeed at university, Functional Skills and Access to Higher Education Diploma courses could be the answer!
Functional Skills are GCSE equivalent courses that develop your knowledge and skills to grade C in Maths, English and ICT. The best part - they only take a few weeks to complete!
Access to Higher Education Diplomas are A level equivalence courses that provide you with the knowledge you’ll need to study at degree level.
Adding Functional Skills and Access to HE diploma qualifications to your university application will really boost your chances of success!
You also have the option of applying for an integrated degree which includes a foundation year for students who don’t meet the typical entry requirements (you may not even need to complete Functional Skills). At the conclusion of your foundation year, assuming you pass with flying colours, you’ll progress onto the full degree proper (you’ll have to call individual universities to see whether they offer these types of courses as they’re not widely advertised… yet!).
I don’t know, all seems like pie in the sky to me…
OK, then here’s a tasty example for you.
Check out the Acorn School in Gloucestershire. It’s a small private school that doesn’t follow the traditional education system in the UK. None of the students that attend leave with a single A level, yet all of those who apply to UK universities secure a place!
The school adopts a holistic approach to learning and doesn’t see the value in public examinations (like A levels). Instead, each prospective uni student submits school progress reports coupled with a hard copy dissertation on an academic subject of their choice.
So, remember there are always options available to you!
I think I’m just too old for it now.
If it’s been a while since you sat in the classroom to study, or your memories of student life weren’t the best, there are now loads of online options that could be better suited to you. With many online courses, you can study when it’s convenient for you, and work your studies around your own life and work commitments.
There’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t be able to pursue the education they want and deserve. The opportunities are out there just waiting for you to grab with both hands - so, good luck!