Not Going To Uni Information and Independent Study Advice

Not sure that you want to go to university when you leave Sixth Form? Fear not, we are here to help.

If you are not planning to go to University, or, if you are unsure of your options after Sixth Form, please speak with Vicky at any time-the sooner the better! There is no rush to make your decision, but, the more we talk, the more advice and guidance I can provide you with, which will help you make your final decision.

What will I do in the future?

There is a comprehensive programme of ‘Meet the Professionals’ that sixth formers are welcome to attend. This is an excellent opportunity to hear all about careers from a professional in that role. Meet the Professional sessions take place in the academy at lunchtime and are advertised in advance.

What type of person am I and how will that help/hinder me in deciding what to do?

Please see this Careers Information presentation for some fun quizzes to learn more about yourself, and a possible future career.

It really is worth looking at the presentation, these are an example of the websites recommended on it.   and

In addition to the psychometric activities, these two websites have a wealth of  excellent information about a range of jobs and career pathways using videos, descriptions, information and contact details.

In addition to the skills health check and a range of other career tools, this site has detailed information about job profiles and links to other information sources.


Sixth Form Students, please take a minute to have a look at the link attached below, for some ideas for those of you not considering University.

Please come to speak with the sixth form team at any time to talk through your thoughts.



If you are not planning on going to university, apprenticeships are an excellent career option.

Students and tutors are advised weekly of current vacancies for apprenticeships and we have many visitors in to talk about apprenticeships. We urge students who are not going to university to attend all of these sessions.

There are a lot of websites with information to help you decide if it is the right option for you and you can search for current vacancies on there.

See the latest local vacancies here (Put Cambridgeshire into the search box)

Another excellent website to look at is:

For general careers information


Information on making career applications

Application forms

Application forms can be very time-consuming (3-5 hours minimum each) so before you begin, be sure you wish to apply.

Before you begin

  • Read the company literature first – recruitment brochures, job specifications, and company websites. Consider which qualities or skills the employer is after
  • Understand the company’s selection criteria. Don’t make assumptions.
  • Decide if you want to apply. “If I am offered this job, will I take it?”
  • Download (or photo-copy for paper forms) the application form and prepare the answers in advance. Make sure you understand the instructions
  • Collect all the information you’ll require – skills, experience & evidence of each
  • Take time to do it well – practice makes perfect

Exploring your options

  • Knowing yourself or self-awareness – Knowing what you’re good at and what you enjoy is probably the most important thing in this process. Think about skills you have acquired through your studies, work experience and outside interests such as sports or being part of clubs and societies. Personal Development Planning can help you evaluate what you have built up so far and also to identify gaps you might need to plug.
  • Knowing what’s available or occupational awareness – It’s almost impossible to know about all the jobs available. If you enjoy(ed) your degree, then you could start by looking at jobs related to your subject in our Virtual Library. You could also discuss your options with a Careers Adviser who can help you narrow things down and suggest how to research your options further.
  • Making the match – Once you have explored your skills and know what jobs are out there, it’s time to compare. Not everyone is lucky enough to find the perfect job. For most of us it’s a case of best fit but this also means that there is probably more than one job we’d be happy doing. At this stage, practical considerations can play an important part and might help you to decide: Do I have the right qualifications and grades? Is this career available where I want or need to live?
  • Qualifications – This could range from achieving a particular degree classification to choosing the right postgraduate course. Having the right qualifications isn’t all you will need but they can be a decisive factor.
  • Work experience – Relevant experience is a great way of impressing an employer and showing them that you are serious about your career choice. It can also help you to make sure you have definitely made the right career choice. Have a look at our Jobs & work experience section for tips on how to find relevant experience. NHS Work experience info
  • Developing your skills – You can do this in lots of ways. Think about the skills your chosen career calls for and choose activities which will help you develop them further. Of course, work experience will help here, too, but employers will also be interested in extra-curricular activities, charity or part-time work. Have a look at our Employability section for more tips


Why write a CV

It’s never too early to start drafting a CV, and in fact you should be constantly updating yours to ensure you’re ready to apply for the next amazing opportunity to come your way.

The key factors for a successful CV

  • Well researched and tailored for the purpose (job type, employer or postgraduate course)
  • 100% accuracy in spelling and grammar
  • 1 or 2 full A4 pages
  • Minimum 12 font type (if using Times New Roman
  • Some ideas for headings and content
  • Personal details: name, address, telephone and email address should normally be enough (nationality and gender are optional)
  • Personal profile/career objective: we don’t recommend including this on your CV. Instead, information about your career focus and/or current aims, plus, evidence of two or three main strengths should be included in your covering letter. The only time this heading might be appropriate would be if you are giving your CV to an employment agency.
  • Education: stated in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experiences first, back to your secondary education – include university and school names, town, dates, degree subject (class attained/expected)
  • Employment/work experience (most recent first): describe your responsibilities and achievements in the role (for basic jobs too), and illustrate where skills were used or developed. If appropriate have separate sections for experience ‘relevant’ to the post and ‘other’ work experience
  • Skills: your skills are very important to employers. You may include reference to skills development in the information you supply about your previous employment or you can include a separate skills section allowing you to list the skills sought for any given job and provide clear evidence of how you have developed these. This can include references to education, employment, hobbies and interests.
  • Responsibilities and Activities/Interests: you can use these sections to demonstrate that you’re motivated to pursue other activities and have an interest in a relevant career. Don’t just list… describe your involvement, emphasise your achievements and keep it recent and relevant.

Covering letters

A covering letter is used to draw attention to your CV. Your covering letter states your motivation and adaptability.

A covering letter should:

  • show the employer your interest in and knowledge of the company
  • highlight sections of your CV that are your particular selling points
  • highlight additional information that does not fit easily into a CV
  • explain any personal circumstances or anomalies in your application which may be of interest to the employer
  • 1. State for which position you’re applying and where you saw it advertised. For a speculative letter, specify the type of work you’re looking for. Introduce yourself (e.g. year of study, university, degree subject, graduation year and degree classification).
  • 2. Explain why you’re interested in working for this particular employer. Demonstrate enthusiasm and evidence of research into their past/recent successes, involvements, values, clients, etc. Explain why you’re interested in this type of work, demonstrating an understanding of what it’s likely to involve.
  • 3. Highlight the ways in which you’re suitable for this position. Provide evidence of your key strengths and how they reflect the requirements of the employer and position. Refer to relevant experience listed on your CV.
  • 4. Describe your career development/ambitions, and tie these in to the activities and interests of the employer.
  • 5. Conclude positively and enthusiastically. Summarise and highlight your interest in the company and how this job fits into your long-term plans. Indicate your availability for interview.
  • Making career choices
  • It’s never too early to start thinking about your career choices. The choices you make, even before starting University, all have a part to play in your future, so spending some time thinking these through is a good idea.
  • The influences on your career choices so far (such as how you came to be studying at the University of Aberdeen) and in the future are many and varied and are often attributed to fate. But, actually, you made the choice to take the opportunities which have arisen for you along the course of your life. So a good way to approach making career choices is to decide to discover and be open to the many opportunities which surround you. There are many tools to help you to discover these opportunities.


Website links for study skills

Careers Information

Please have a look at this powerpoint as a starting point for career information

Careers websites


Balancing a part time job, a social life and sixth form study 

For many students, the realities of life mean that they have to balance their studies with a part-time job. However, three-quarters of those who work during term time reportedly find it tough to balance their academic, work, and social commitments. This is as true for those who are at sixth-form as it is for those in an apprenticeship, or at university. Whichever direction you are coming from – whether you are earning to try and reduce the debts you may incur during your studies, or just to get a little extra money for yourself – there is a real need to make sure you stay on top of your work, study, and social-life balance.

The first port of call before rushing out to get a job is to make sure you have covered all of the available funding options, but once you have done this, it is a matter of maintaining a strict schedule, so nothing gets missed. Keeping a record of all of your upcoming course dates will certainly help. Whether you use a traditional calendar, diary, or an electronic organiser is up to you. This will stop you from missing an important course date, or double-booking yourself with work and social commitments.

Make sure you plan your study and working life around important course dates to ensure you have plenty of time to meet your obligations. Plan to study for periods, and devote yourself to your part-time work at others. Of course, you should make sure that your work doesn’t conflict with any college commitments, like classes or tutorials, and give yourself the necessary time to complete study assignments too. The more structured your working pattern is, the easier it will be to organise your work / life / study balance. If possible try to work more during the holidays so you can save some money for when term begins again.

While your work will be important, don’t put it above your studies. Your job should be a means to an end, rather than your reason for being. Remember, studies first, and work second. That said, you don’t want to lose your job, so make sure to keep your employer informed as to when you are available to work, and when you will be concentrating on your study.

Your college should also be appreciative of the need to earn some money, so be sure to let your tutors know if there are any issues arising from your work commitments interfering with your studies. You may even find that deadlines can be altered to suit in exceptional circumstances.

While your study and your part-time work are important, it is equally important to make sure you look after yourself – and that means not getting burnt out by taking on too much. Don’t promise more than you can deliver, and be sure to schedule time to let your hair down too. Also, make sure you get enough sleep, as that will impair you ability to study and work, and could see you losing out on both fronts.

If you follow these tips you should be able to balance your work with your studies and social life. Managing this balance will not only offer you some extra money while you study, but can help when it comes to going for your dream job too.

Many employers like to see that you have relevant work experience, but even if your part-time job is unrelated to your hoped-for career, it will still show that you can work as a team, manage your time, and be a reliable employee.

The key is managing your time accordingly, so you don’t get caught out by an unexpected obligation – and remembering not to work too hard all of the time!


Studying in the Sixth Form and Being an Independent Learner

In the Sixth Form you will have more individual freedom and your academic life will be less structured than before. This is a very positive thing if approached responsibly, but it is easy to lose sight of your priorities. You will certainly need to organise your work. Staff will expect work to be completed on time and to a high standard. It should not be left until the last minute, but should be done efficiently during private study periods in school or at home; and you will have to do work at weekends as well as during the week in order to perform well.

Moreover, the work set by your teachers is a minimum: wide background reading is necessary in each subject if you expect to do well. There is a big jump from GCSEs to A-levels and not everyone appreciates just how much work is needed in order to thrive at this level. A-levels are not GCSEs! However innately talented you may be, there is no substitute for hard work. The students who appreciate that and put in the work find the whole Sixth Form experience much more rewarding and get much better results! Your attitude to your studies will colour your experience of Sixth Form life and affect the grades you get.

It is therefore important for you to think about how you can become an independent learner – something that will be invaluable to you now, at university, to your employer later and throughout your career.

Learning often takes place through personal interaction and through the explicit focus on developing the skills of our learners; therefore we believe it is important to develop learner habits explicitly within our teaching to enable us to create students who are confident, resourceful, enquiring and independent learners.

Additionally, each subject within the Sixth Form has produced an independent learning guide that will enable you to have all the necessary materials and guidance to be highly successful during your time at Sawtry Sixth Form. These can be accessed from the links at the top of this page.


What happens if I don’t get the results I had hoped for?

Don’t panic, there is lots of help out there. Start by reading this blog:

Talk to members of the Academy staff and your family, and take time to think about your options.