stabbathehut
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Hi All,

I didn't do well at A level I got 3 D's in psychology, computing and maths. I was fortunate enough for a connection where I can potentially do a data science level 4 apprenticeship. however, it lasts 15 months and I'm not sure how credited it is to unis or real work in big cooperations. I'm not good at maths it's whether I retake computing. with this would it be possible just to take the practical paper of Edexcel again as I got a U in this but an A in the theory and NEA.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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winterscoming
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Data Science jobs tend to be high-skilled career paths, so a higher apprenticeship in that would be a really excellent way of gaining a lot of valuable skills and experience.

Employers generally have no particular preference about education, universities, grades or certificates/qualifications - their priority is hiring people with the right skills and experience to match the job they're offering. If you're successful in a 15-month apprenticeship, that would normally put you in a strong position to be able to apply for the same kinds of jobs that a Computer Science graduate would be applying for. Depending how you perform, you may even find that your apprenticeship employer might offer you a permanent job.

As for university,it really depends what your goals are. If your only reason for wanting to study at university is to get the skills for a job at the end, then you'd be in a much better place by skipping university altogether and using the apprenticeship as a way to start out your career. You'd probably learn more in terms of relevant technical skills from a 15-month apprenticeship than from 3 years of a computer science degree, and be in a strong position with employability prospects after the end too.
Last edited by winterscoming; 3 weeks ago
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stabbathehut
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Honestly that's great advice thanks! The main reason I was considering Uni was to determine whether this is what I wanted to do and that I can fulfill my potential as cheesy as that sounds. Google and Microsoft are places that seem to require these degrees as you are more rounded.
What uni's do you think would take me if I was to do this apprenticeship? I am just Interested to see the differing routes I can take
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winterscoming
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(Original post by stabbathehut)
Honestly that's great advice thanks! The main reason I was considering Uni was to determine whether this is what I wanted to do and that I can fulfill my potential as cheesy as that sounds. Google and Microsoft are places that seem to require these degrees as you are more rounded.
What uni's do you think would take me if I was to do this apprenticeship? I am just Interested to see the differing routes I can take
You're welcome, and that's not cheesy at all to feel that way. I think it's normal not to know exactly what you want to do after A-Levels; while a degree is a good way to keep your options open, the downside of going to university without a clear end-goal is the danger of finding yourself on the 'wrong' degree and perhaps feeling that it's not the best use of a whole year's worth of tuition fees.


Level 4 'higher' apprenticeships are equivalent to a CertHE or FdSc (Foundation degree); The majority of universities will accept it in the same way they'd accept a Foundation degree (Data Science jobs usually involve a lot of skills which are relevant to a CompSci undergraduate programme, so that should be more than enough for the key areas like programming, databases, data analysis, data manipulation and statistical analysis).
If you decide to take the apprenticeship and then want to switch to something different afterwards, there'll be options to choose something else, which could include university, or another apprenticeship, or a different kind of course, or maybe a permanent job doing something similar/related.


The kind of offer you'd likely get depends on the university, so you'd need to explore individual universities' websites and entry criteria. A lot of the more vocationally-focused universities may accept you straight into the 2nd year (i.e. ex-polytechnics whose degrees are based around the skills needed for technical IT careers and where maths isn't important). Otherwise, most should at least accept you straight onto the first year.


The "top" universities will have some other additional requirements (i.e. universities which typically insist on having 3 A/A* at A-level including maths). I would assume it'll be hard to get into somewhere like Oxbridge/Imperial without a very strong maths background, because those universities have very maths-intensive computer science degrees (More like an applied maths degree), and fairly rigorous entry exams to pass as well.



Tech giants like Google and Microsoft receive thousands of applications for entry/junior-level jobs and internships each year, so those are extremely competitive to get into at that level - i.e. in the first few years of your career. The bar is very high in terms of analytical, technical and problem-solving skills; they're able to be selective in only hiring really exceptional problem solvers and thinkers; however just like nearly every other company out there, Google/Microsoft/etc. will choose people based on those skills and not whether they happen to have a particular degree - your skills/experience become far more relevant to you as you progress from junior up to mid-level and senior-level too, and the field of candidates you'd be competing against after gaining 5+ years experience reduces drastically.



I would suggest not focusing on such a small, narrow group of companies to work for though at the start of your career though; even if you graduate with a good Computer Science degree from a top university, your first priority should really be just about building up a solid base of experience and depth of expertise in some key areas; from that point of view there's there's no difference between starting your career at a small/medium company versus finding a junior job somewhere much bigger and well-known. The jobs themselves won't really be any different, you'd be doing all the same kind of work and using the same kind of technologies, solving the same kinds of problems, etc. All the skills you'd learn will be much the same, and there are plenty of great people to learn from at smaller companies too.

Lastly, have a look at this Quora thread for a few peoples' personal experiences going to work for some of those companies without a CompSci degree, hopefully it shows that there's plenty of room in the IT industry and in companies of all sizes for people without a degree: https://www.quora.com/Are-there-any-...college-degree
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stabbathehut
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wow! you really know your stuff and it does give that confidence to pursue differing areas. I appreciate that a lot. do you know if there are places to see if certain unis will accept you. the initial idea was to go to Loughborough but obviously through my grades that is no where near possible so could a level 4 be accredited enough to get me in? the reason I am going towards uni is I have had family advice where they are strong headed that doing computer science opens up more doors than just doing data science and to do this now closed these doors. I never realised that a fair few that don't go to unis do get accepted. I thought it would be rejection at the initial level.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by stabbathehut)
wow! you really know your stuff and it does give that confidence to pursue differing areas. I appreciate that a lot. do you know if there are places to see if certain unis will accept you. the initial idea was to go to Loughborough but obviously through my grades that is no where near possible so could a level 4 be accredited enough to get me in? the reason I am going towards uni is I have had family advice where they are strong headed that doing computer science opens up more doors than just doing data science and to do this now closed these doors. I never realised that a fair few that don't go to unis do get accepted. I thought it would be rejection at the initial level.
I'd recommend contacting some individual universities directly since it's up to admissions tutors, but level-4 apprenticeships belong to the same structure as other academic qualifications, which means they're equally valid as those other qualifications as a means of getting into a university degree. https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qu...on-levels-mean

If you were to talk to Loughborough or another university they'd probably ask to see the exact details of the apprenticeship scheme so that they're satisfied it covers all the core skills - i.e. they need to be sure that the content of your apprenticeship and other qualifications gives you a strong enough background to cope with the degree (But I would expect a data science apprenticeship to cover most of the core computer science skills - data scientists tend to do a lot of statistical analysis work, and use languages such as Python, R, SQL and VBA, so that should lead to skills in areas like computational thinking and data modelling)

The apprenticeship certainly won't be closing any doors anyway - whichever path you choose this year, you won't lose the opportunity to study at university later. You'll still have 4 years worth of student finance available to you after completing the apprenticeship no matter what you decide, and universities are open to accepting students at any age who didn't go straight to university after A-Levels.

In any case, higher apprenticeships exist as an alternative path into skilled careers; learning on-the-job instead of having 3 years at university learning in an academic setting. Apprenticeships themselves can lead to full bachelor degree qualifications without needing to study at university or pay tuition fees. The UK Govt has introduced a lot of these over the past few years, usually with content/standards designed in collaboration with large companies, so they've gained a lot of interest from employers on the basis that the content of those apprenticeships are sharply focused on all the skills which employers actually need.

One thing to mention about some university degrees, particularly more academic ones, is that not all content will necessarily be relevant to jobs or employment, but that depends on the degree and university. Modules may be taught by people whose background is in research and academia rather than those with industry experience - that's good if you want to continue onto postgrad study, but it can mean a disconnect between what universities teach and what employers want.

Apprenticeships are the opposite to this, although they focus sharply on one career path rather than providing a broad/general education, but it's hard to over-state how hugely valuable it can be to your employment prospects to have been able to learn a set of skills in a job alongside senior/experienced people and a mentor rather than studying from lectures and working towards exams/coursework.
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