How can I get a degree without paying?
In most cases, getting a degree is definitely worth it, particularly in some industries. However, if you do choose to go to University, you’ll graduate leaving your friends, student flat and booze-filled days behind you, while getting (on average), £50,000 debt. We know some ways where you effectively get your degree for free – you could even get paid to get it!
By applying for an undergraduate degree through the UCAS system, you could apply for scholarships to go towards your tuition fees, although you would need to get a few in order to pay for all of your fees. Other options include choosing to do sponsored degree or a degree Apprenticeship. Both of these will also involve you working directly with an employer – so you get the experience you need too.
How does a sponsored degree programme work?
A sponsored degree programme is where an employer will pay for your tuition fees (and sometimes maintenance and accommodation), as long as you work for them either during your course or when you graduate. Some companies will sponsor you through part of your degree, but not all of it. The structure of sponsored degrees does depend on the employer you work with.
You may only work for the company once you have graduated, during your summer holidays or on a placement year. Other sponsored degrees involve you working a certain number of hours a week for the company. The way that you do your degree could also vary, although some sponsored degrees support you away at university, other companies will encourage you to do distance learning from the company offices.
By doing a sponsored degree, you’ll be making great contacts in the industry you want to work in and getting the experience you need. As well as a zero-debt degree, you could even be paid when you’re working. When you graduate, it’s also very likely you could be offered a higher role at the company – and with that often comes a pay rise!
How does a degree Apprenticeship work?
Unlike a sponsored degree, you are guaranteed to have all of your tuition fees paid for as well as a salary as a degree Apprentice! A degree Apprenticeship is very similar to a sponsored degree, however the format of your learning with your employer will be much more structured. This is because as part of your degree Apprenticeship you’ll be spending 20% of your time training. As a Degree Apprentice you’ll be earning salary of at least £7,000 however as it is at a high level, most start at £18,000.
If you’re thinking about becoming a degree apprentice, you should remember it’s not going to be an easy alternative to a full-time undergraduate degree. In fact, it is just as academically challenging as a traditional degree, but you’ll also have work pressures too! You’ll be combining the theoretical knowledge from University to work every day. So everyday really is a school day. If you do a more diverse framework such as the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, many organisations also rotate you around the business you get to grips with different departments too.
When you graduate as a degree Apprentice, you’ll also be far better equipped to continue your work with your organisation compared to a traditional graduate. This is because you’ll know the ins and outs of the business, internal processes and when you’re not studying for your degree, you could also be studying internal training programmes. All of these things will be unique to you, something that traditional graduates won’t be able to access or know.
At the end of your Apprenticeship, you could even lead or mentor the ‘regular’ graduate programme with your experience!
How can I stand out in my Apprenticeship Application?
Degree Apprenticeships are a lot more competitive than opting for a lower level apprenticeship or a full-time undergraduate degree. This is because there aren’t as many available in the country and the people applying for them are people like you; those who really know their stuff.
To be considered for an apprenticeship you are mostly expected to have a high academic level as well as a great working attitude. You need to show that you’re mature and willing to work hard – you’ll be working alongside experienced colleagues so understanding workplace etiquette is very important. You should be confident and mature in your responsibilities. Even if you don’t have top-of-the-class academic qualifications, being able to learn independently is very important.
If you’ve done an apprenticeship before this will help you stand out because you can show that you know how to balance your workload. Working hard and going above and beyond is what most employers look for, because you’ll be studying in your own time. If you have examples of how you’ve done this before or manage your time well, this will help you stand out.
Is a degree apprenticeship difficult?
A degree apprenticeship is a very challenging option, if this is what you choose to do. This is because you have to make enough time to get everything in the day done as well as all of your coursework. If you ask anyone that has been to University, they will say to you how much work they had and how dreadful deadlines can be. Equally, you’ll know from parents, friends and family how working comes with its own pressures too.
With a degree Apprenticeship you have the joy of both of these, but together!
What does an employer look for in a degree Apprenticeship application?
A genuine interest in the job and what you want to study is really important. It’s 3 years of your life, and you’ll want enthusiasm to get the work done, even when it gets tough.
A degree apprenticeship is a very academically challenging option, so an employer won’t set you up to fail. Although, grades aren’t everything, reasoning is also very important.
You need to be mature enough to be in the workplace, dedicated to work and study and be a good fit for the company. Often, employers have psychometric tests in the application process to find out more about you, more than you even know!
Is there anything that could be a weakness in my application?
There aren’t many things that will mean that you won’t be considered for an apprenticeship. The biggest weakness is not having the right academic ability for a degree Apprenticeship. Even if you have the best work ethic, a degree apprenticeship is very academically challenging, and an employer won’t put you on a programme you could struggle with. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever do one, you should consider a lower level apprenticeship and progressing to a degree apprenticeship.
Another weakness we often see is that people don’t fill out the application form properly. Really consider all of your answers carefully, if you don’t fill it out to a great ability, we might think you’re not actually that keen! If there are lots of questions put them on a word document and work on them there, then you can come back to your answers!
Top tips for getting the most out of your degree Apprenticeship interview
If you’re successful and are offered an interview, it will be unlike any other interview you’ve experience.
This is because you’ll be interviewed as an employee as well as a student, so you need to show that you’re capable of both, alongside each other. Remember, if you’re not successful ask for feedback and find out what you can do better next time. It could give you a new boost of confidence, especially if it’s something you couldn’t help, such as not speaking a foreign language or something you could easily change such as not smiling enough!
If a Degree Apprenticeship is really challenging, do I get any support?
As a degree Apprentice, you will have a lot more support than a typical undergraduate. This is because you’ll have HR support as well as your manager, and you should get a workplace mentor as well. This is someone who may not work directly with you but can offer you extra support. What’s more, as a student you’ll also be entitled from the same support from your tutor and other student support services.