University is not the only option open to ambitious youngsters, according to Brit Awards winner Kate Nash.
Brits winner Kate Nash supports vocational education
In her acceptance speech for best female artist she emphasised the need for "arts in education".
Her comments have been endorsed by education charity Edge, which promotes vocational learning in schools.
However, going to university can lead to a higher salary and better jobs, says the Russell Group.
Kate Nash, who graduated from the Brit School, a state-funded performing arts and technology school for 14 to 19 year-olds, told the Brit Awards audience that the route to a successful career is not exclusively via university.
She said: "It's really important to have arts in education because not everybody is academic and not all of us get into university like, but don't worry if you don't."
Miss Nash, 19, who is billed as a major talent in British music and whose debut album reached the number 1 position in the UK pop charts, is one of a number of rising young stars, including Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua, Leona Lewis (all fellow Brit School pupils) and Lily Allen.
Her views are in line with education pressure group Edge, which believes education needs to include practical and vocational elements.
It also emphasises the alternatives to academic learning and wants these to be given a higher profile in schools.
Edge partnership director Jonathan Bramsdon said: "In essence Kate Nash is correct in that all practical abilities should be valued.
"Edge's primary role is to change perceptions - to get young people, their parents and employers to recognise that practical skills are as important and as valuable as existing academic qualifications.
"For those who don't see university as the right way forward for them, there are other practical routes that are equally as valuable and fulfilling."
But academia is given high priority by the government, which has set a target of 50% of those aged 18 to 30-year-olds educated to degree level by 2020.
The Russell Group, which is an association of 20 major research-intensive universities, also places a high value on education to degree level.
Its director general Dr Wendy Piatt said: "We would encourage everyone to at least seriously consider how going to university will increase their options in the future, boost their earning potential, raise their self-esteem and confidence, provide both an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating experience - and even improve their health."
It says evidence shows that:
Graduates earn 20-25% more on average than people who did not go to university. This represents approximately £160,000 in today's terms. The figure is quite a bit higher if you go to a Russell Group university (up to 35%).
Graduates are also more likely to be employed compared to those with only A-levels and enjoy higher quality jobs.
Graduates are generally less depressed than people at lower qualification levels, report a higher sense of well being, are more likely to exercise at least three times a week, are less likely to smoke and are more likely to quit smoking.