Do you take the career or college route in the game of life?

Workplace learning for school leavers is becoming ever increasingly popular.

Whether it is to try and stay debt free, get out of classroom-based learning styles or the increasing focus on apprenticeship programmes. More and more companies are looking at creating their own learning and development courses to support the army of school leavers going straight into the workplace.

For example, companies are creating courses that include, product and service standards, employee well-being and management training to offer alongside apprenticeship training, as workplace learning for school leavers and young workers.

Not a new thing!

I was looking through my blogs the other day and came across my very first blog in January 2013, Going to University – The time of your life or a waste of your time?

As we are now 10 years on from then, I thought I would update it by asking Chat GPT how the internet would answer that question!

Since we are advocates of a blended approach to learning at eLamb, I also thought I would add a human’s view on the topic.

Summary of my old blog:

The old blog suggested that many young people questioned the potential financial benefits of going to university. They were also a lot more conscious of the financial costs of attending university. However, even with those considerations, most still opted to take the university route. Game of life

I asked ChatGPT “Is it better for my career to go to university or to go straight into employment after school?”

ChatGPT’s response suggests the decision of whether to go to university or enter the workforce directly after school depends on various factors, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and what’s best for your career will depend on your individual goals, interests, and circumstances.

Not to surprising, they sit on the fence! So, I have listed their key considerations and added a human’s thoughts to them!

Here are some factors to consider for each option:

Considering going to university:

Skill Development:

ChatGPT: University can provide you with specialised knowledge and skills that are valuable in certain professions. It can also offer a structured learning environment.

Me: Companies can provide you with the specialised knowledge and skills that will benefit you most in the workplace. They can offer you a structured learning environment and a flexible on the job learning environment. You can do a lot of that learning at your own pace and in the style you want.


ChatGPT: University can be an excellent place to build a professional network, which can be beneficial in your future career.

Me: I can’t honestly say I have got any business benefit from friends or acquaintances I made at university. The only help I have ever had is that my sister’s friend worked at Bloomberg and he handed my CV into the HR department when I applied for my first job.

Does that mean you can’t build a professional network if you go into the workplace straight away?

Career Opportunities:

ChatGPT: Some careers require a degree as a minimum qualification, and not having one may limit your options in those fields.

Me: That does seem to be the case still, although it is not as common as it used to be.

However, some careers require you to have a specific degree. For example, if you want to be a doctor then you need a degree in medicine. I can’t see an alternative route to practicing medicine if you don’t go to university.


ChatGPT: University often offers opportunities to explore different subjects and career paths before committing to one.

Me: I don’t agree with that. You choose your subject at university and stick to it. You could argue some subjects offer a variety of topics, such as in  Agricultural Business Management, you could learn about agriculture, management or marketing.

However, you have the ability to explore those in apprenticeships too.

Personal Growth:

ChatGPT: It can be a valuable experience for personal growth and development.

Me: Undoubtedly you learn independence and grow as a person when you are at university. But can you say you won’t grow by working for 3 years instead of going to university or travelling for a while?

Considering entering the workforce immediately:

Work Experience:

ChatGPT: You can gain practical work experience right away, which can be valuable in many industries.

Me: I agree, you won’t get practical work experience doing most courses at university. However, some of them do combine academia with practical experience. For example, trainee vets work in veterinary practices whilst they are still learning at university.

Earning Potential:

ChatGPT: You start earning a salary immediately, which can be financially advantageous, especially if you’re not taking on student loan debt.

Me: I can’t argue with that. A lot of people take on temporary work at university to try and help cover some costs.

Career Progression:

ChatGPT: In some industries, career advancement may be based more on experience and performance than on formal education.

Me: I see more and more that university graduates start (at best) at the same level in a company as a school leaver who has worked for 3 years already. Often, they start lower.

Avoiding Debt:

ChatGPT: You won’t accumulate student loan debt, which can be a significant financial burden.

Me: As long as you live with your parents, you can save some money instead of getting into debt if you go straight into work from school.

Lego man feeling unsure of what he shold be doing

In summary

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision that aligns with your aspirations and values.

Additionally, keep in mind that lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important in today’s rapidly changing job market, so you may find yourself pursuing additional education or training at various points in your career, regardless of your initial choice.

Are you a Learning & Development professional looking to develop career paths and deliver engaging training for young workers & school leavers?


Here at eLamb, our specialism is helping companies deliver workplace learning for school leavers and young workers as part of their career development.

Read how we do this for Halfords.

Get in touch to discuss workplace learning for school leavers and see how we can help you with your eLearning developing needs.

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