Information, inspiration and advice to help sixth formers understand their university and career options

Information, inspiration and advice to help sixth formers understand their university and career options


Are you ambitious, and want to discover some exciting careers you have probably never heard of?

Planning to go to university? Find out how your choice of university and course can have a big impact on what career options are open to you, and your future earnings. While an average graduate earns £20,600, find out how some earn over £50,000 in their first year after university!

University not for you? What about a Further Education college, or if you’re keen to start earning, there are an increasing number of school leaver programmes and apprenticeships that provide training that lay the foundations for a great career. Or why not consider a Degree Apprenticeship to combine the best of both worlds?

Our 60-page Aspire guide and Career Video Library showcases the wide range of career options that are available to you. With in-depth advice on different career sectors, their average earning potential and what qualifications (if any!) are needed for these roles, Aspire was designed to give you the tools and knowledge you need to succeed in whatever career path you choose.

Did you know that while the average starting salary in a graduate job is £24,000, not all graduates get graduate jobs, with the average graduate earning £20,600 in their first year after university. The Aspire Guide shows how university and subject choice influence earnings, and how some earn more by choosing an Apprenticeship instead!

Inside the guide

Click on an icon below to discover information and guidance on your post-18 options:


Degree Apprenticeships

Gap Years

Further Education Colleges

School Leaver Programmes


Have a specific question?

Use the icons below to skip ahead to key sections of the guide:

Different qualifications and your earning potential

How to choose the right university for you

Different career options to consider

How to prepare for careers success early

Job applications, CV and interview guidance

Understanding the Student Finance system

Budgeting tips

Accessing wellbeing support whilst at university


The Aspire Career Video Library holds a range of sector-specific videos offering an insight into the different job roles and opportunities available to you. We asked professionals working in these industries to give their advice so that you can make more informed decisions about your future career. Watch each video to gain an introduction to a different sector.

Thank you to the volunteers who helped make these videos happen through the COVID-19 pandemic.





Government & The Public Sector


Marketing, Advertising & PR

Media, Journalism & Publishing

Medicine, Science & Research


Accountancy & Professional Services | Banking | Building & Construction | Education | HR & Operations | Law | Retail | Tech


9 students discuss their journeys to university

10 top tips for tackling university applications

9 insights into what university life is really like

6 students' insights into when you should start thinking about your career


About upReach:

upReach is an award-winning social mobility charity that supports university students who went to state schools (and aren’t from higher income families) by providing them with free, expert career support to help them achieve their ambitions.

By joining upReach, you will:

  • Receive free support worth up to £900 per year, including 1-to-1 personalised support from a dedicated Programme Coordinator.
  • Access exclusive employer insight days, work experience and mentoring from prestigious employers to understand what careers might suit you and what you need to do to succeed.
  • Start your Career Springboard with personalised CV and application reviews, free online practice tests, mock interviews with industry specialists, mock assessment centres and more.

If you’re not at university yet, you can pre-register to receive upReach’s programme of support. Simply complete the form below and we will get in touch shortly before you start university so you can complete your application.

Eligibility Criteria:

To be enrolled on our programme, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Household income below £42,620.
  • Attended UK state schools only (or since age 14 if educated abroad before then).
  • Achieved at least BBB in top 3 A-Levels on a contextualised basis (*see below) or an equivalent qualification.
  • Achieved at least a C in GCSE Maths and English.
  • Currently an undergraduate over the age of 18 that is in full-time study at a UK university**
  • Should not be studying social work, nursing, dentistry or medicine.

Please note, there may be additional eligibility requirements depending on the Programme.

*Your REALrating gives you a better indication of your academic capabilities, taking into account factors such as schooling that can affect grades. To find out more, please visit

**If you are still in sixth form you can still pre-register for upReach’s support, please tick “not at university” when filling out the form and we will contact you before you start university so you can complete your application.

Register Now


Aspire is designed to encourage sixth form students to aim high, broaden their horizons and achieve their potential.

The Aspire teacher resources pack contains everything you need to deliver an effective and engaging session about university and careers. By clicking on the button below and registering, you will be sent:

  • A 15-minute Assembly Presentation
  • A shorter, 5-minute version also suitable for Daily Notices
  • An easy-to-use Teacher Guide and Script
  • A free, electronic copy of the Aspire guide, an invaluable 60-page careers resource for your students

The Aspire resources provide information about a range of post-18 options, from university to school leaver programmes and apprenticeships, as well as careers advice and inspiration. They also showcase important role models: students who have come from less-advantaged backgrounds and broken into careers that can otherwise seem hard to reach. The presentations include links to our videos of high-achieving students talking about their experiences and their tips for sixth formers.

Using this toolkit, you have the flexibility to create a session that lasts anywhere from 5 minutes to 35 minutes by pairing one of the assembly presentations with the Aspire videos showcased above. Please feel free to pass on the teacher resources to Year 12 and 13 tutors at your school. The Aspire guide itself cannot be redistributed without upReach’s permission.


The Aspire guide will help you understand the range of post-school/college options out there, enabling you to help guide your child through an important decision.

Aspire contains everything you need to encourage your child to aim high, broaden their horizons and achieve their potential.

Access your free copy of the Aspire guide

About Aspire

In 2018, we celebrated student achievement at the inaugural Student Social Mobility Awards (SSMAs). The nominees and winners had overcome huge barriers to achieve great success academically, professionally and personally. We wanted to share their stories and their tips for sixth formers, to inspire other young people to think about their future and work to realise their potential.

These students inspired the Aspire project. As well as the guide and resources for teachers, we recorded videos of the Student Social Mobility Award nominees discussing their experiences and answering our questions about university and careers. We hope that this project will inspire sixth formers all over the UK to aim high, broaden their horizons and realise their potential.

The 2020/2021 Student Social Mobility Awards will be held at the House of Lords on Thursday 9th September 2021. The Aspire section of the awards includes recognition of teachers and sixth formers, including a Rising Star award, Teacher Award and Community Champion Award.

Visit the awards website for more information on making a nomination

Watch the videos

About upReach

upReach works to create the conditions for undergraduates from less-advantaged backgrounds to access and sustain top graduate jobs.

Our main activity is delivering an intensive programme of career support, working in close partnership with leading employers and universities, which is free to students who take part. This year, upReach programmes will provide tailored support to over 2,000 students from across the UK, helping them to broaden their horizons, understand career pathways and develop the skills, networks and experiences needed for career success. Students who receive upReach’s support who leave university with a graduate job start on a mean salary of over £4,000 more than the average graduate!

Check your eligibility

Visit the upReach website


We would love to hear your feedback about Aspire.

To provide feedback or contact us about anything else, including purchasing a hard copy of the Aspire guide, please fill out this form: