Advising young people on the next stage of their journey

Diego Fanara

Diego Fanara is co-founder and CEO of Unibuddy, an online tool embedded on university websites to connect young people with current university students. Unibuddy was born out of his own frustration in trying to make my university choice without being able to visit campuses. Unibuddy is used by over 250 universities worldwide, and over 3 million messages have been exchanged.

 

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As lockdown continues, students around the world are unsure of what happens next. For those that are in the final years of college or Sixth Form, there’s even more uncertainty. What will happen on results day? Will I get into university? Will there be jobs and internships available? Will universities open in September?

UCAS is predicting that some students will opt not to go to university in September. Many more students that planned to study abroad will be thinking about changing their plans. When schools are open, many would have careers and future planning ingrained into the curriculum. Whether that’s through pastoral sessions, careers guidance or personalised support. But as education moves online, that careers education should move online too. Not only that, but students considering Higher Education are missing out on those vital Open Days, HE and Careers Fairs.

The important thing for young people is to be informed about all of the options that are out there right now, and get support to make a decision that’s right for them.

Online resources for careers education

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to support young people with their careers education and future planning. I founded a company that supports students because I was in a similar situation. I lived in Switzerland but wanted to study and work in the UK, but I couldn’t visit and see first hand my options. Since then, the tools that are available online have made decision making easier. 

Here are some:

The UCAS Hub

UCAS is the UK’s universities admissions service, but they offer a range of tools for young people around the world who are thinking about what they’ll do post-18. For those thinking about Higher Education, the UCAS Hub allows students to search courses, speak to a current student, and find out how their grades translate to tariff scores.

UCAS also has advice on writing your CV, finding internships, or planning a gap year. 

The National Careers Service

One of the best tools that the National Careers Service provides is a skills assessment, to help young people identify their top skills, and their potential skills gaps. It’s a great time to develop new skills, particularly if a young person is considering a break come September. 

Target Careers

Target Careers is made for school-leavers who are considering their options. Whether it's Higher Education, internships, apprenticeships or careers. One of the best features here is the resources for teachers and parents. Some of these will be very helpful for providing that remote support. 

Psychometric assessments

There are lots of psychometric assessments online, which help young people understand their own priorities and motivations. They can help young people understand what they are good at, and help them begin to see why certain experiences might suit them, and others might not. 

These assessments can form a part of the careers advising sessions young people might be missing out on at school or college. 

Virtual Open Days and fairs

Usually, students in their final years of school would start attending university Open Days, or Higher Education fairs, to get an idea of where they will go next. These events help them decide whether they could see themselves attending that institution, and get a sense of belonging. 

Thankfully, universities are moving these events online so students don’t need to miss out. In March, there was a 900% surge in the number of virtual university events that students could attend via Unibuddy. If you can’t find details of a virtual event on the university’s website, you can reach out directly to the university - even via social media. 

A difficult time for decision making

Decision making has always been tough. It’s the reason I founded Unibuddy! Now, it’s tougher than ever. Without those vital in-person events, sessions or meetings young people might feel like they are missing out. There is an abundance of information online, but this overwhelming quantity of content has the effect of making decision making harder, rather than easier.

But impartial advice, a friendly ear and signposting to these brilliant resources will go a long way in supporting school leavers through a difficult time. So don’t neglect that careers education, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support - we’re all in it together!

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