What comes after school?

We've produced this guide so that you have the information you need about the options open to your child. 


College or university

Colleges offer a wide range of courses, from National Qualifications and Access courses, right through to HNC/D and degrees. They’re often more vocational than a university course.

College can help your child prepare for the world of work, or act as a stepping stone to university. Nowadays, there are lots of progression routes between the two.

University means studying towards a degree, normally for four years. A university course can be more academic, or have a vocational element.

Where to find out more:

  • College and university is full of information about what your child can expect from each, the links between the two and advice to help them decide what kind of course would suit them
  • The learn and train search lets them explore thousands of courses across Scotland
  • College and university websites are an important source of information. Your child can learn not just about the course, but what the wider faculty is like and what resources are available for students
  • Attending an event, like a Higher Education convention, Skills Scotland, or college or university open days, gives your child a chance to meet people and hear first hand about different courses. This helps them decide if it’s right for them
  • When they’re ready to apply, applying for courses has advice on UCAS and college application forms, interviews and personal statements


Because they combine a real job with training, Modern Apprenticeships and Graduate Level Apprenticeships are a great way to learn on the job. They’re different to full-time study and instead give your child the room to develop as they work.

Where to find out more:



While a course or an apprenticeship will lead them into a job, your child might want to go straight into the workforce.

If so, depending on the employer there may still be opportunities to train on the job and work their way up. It’s worth discussing this with their child as they consider where they want to apply.

We’ve got advice for parents to help you support your child when applying for jobs. It might also help to check out employment options.


Starting a business

Your child might be a born entrepreneur; or have a fantastic idea they want to develop. There’s advice and information to help your child explore being their own boss.


Work experience

It can be tough to get a foot in the door, so gaining some work experience can help. As well as giving your child an insight to working life, it also helps them build connections. Find out more about work experience.

Certificate of Work Readiness

The Certificate of Work Readiness helps your child build up the type of work experience employers are looking for. They’ll get a recognised qualification for their CV. And, it can lead on to other opportunities such as Modern Apprenticeships.



Volunteering gives young people the chance to develop vocational skills, and boost their CV. It can also be a way of making new contacts.

There’s lots of information in volunteering, and your child can search for volunteering opportunities through the learn and train search.


More advice

The National Parent Forum of Scotland has developed a guide to learning pathways. This could help you understand more about some of the options open to your child.