Monday, 8 September 2014

The big debate - 'Should I go to university or not?'

Although September has creeped upon us already and many of you will already have made such decisions, I've seen a lot of videos/posts about going to university. Many of these have been highlighting reasons against university, rather than for.

Now as a disclaimer, I fully understand and state that every single person is different and what works for one might not work for another, and many things have to be taken into account. But for me, university was a mega experience, and like many others who have taken to blogs or videos to explain their reasons and experiences with regards to not going to university, I thought I'd do the same, only in favour of furthering studies.

For me the decision was never there to be made. I didn't have to ask myself if I wanted to go to university, I kind of just knew I would. I'm extremely academically minded and I've always loved learning and bettering my education. However, when I applied for university, it became apparent that I was going to need a lot of money to pull it off and that meant I was faced with problems. Obviously loans are available and I had no problems with that, but it was upfront costs with accommodation that proved to be an issue. My family have never been well off, and don't have disposable income, and therefore I didn't want to ask them for help because I knew the chances would be slim to none. My grandma and grandad were my biggest bets if I needed financial help and I knew they would support me if I needed it, but I didn't want to ask that of them. So I made the decision to defer my entry for a year. It was a decision I made quite late on in the application process, I think I actually waited for my results before I truly decided. My deferred entry was approved and I set out looking for employment in order to raise some funds. When I broke this news to my dad, he was far from pleased as he wanted me to go to university and thought that I wouldn't end up going the following year because I'd get too used to having my own income and would change my mind. I knew that would never happen and so went ahead with it anyway. I had a number of jobs throughout that year, and also spent a lot of time jobless, which sucked. Both of these experiences just made me want to go to university even more.

When the time came to go to university a year later, I was so excited. The prospect of living on my own and meeting new people was so appealling to me, that I just couldn't wait. When I first got to uni, I was a little lonely. I talked to the people in my flat but it took a good week, before I got to know friends that I really gelled with. Those friends stayed with me for the whole of my university experience and are now my best friends in the whole world, because we became so close during the three years of our degrees. In terms of studying, I did enjoy my course. I studied Media and Popular Culture. Cue the criticism, but I've heard it all before. "That's a pointless course, a soft-option, something that the thick students study, you'll never get a job" I didn't care, I was passionate about my subject and went for it. At times the course was a little badly organised and very stressful, but overall, I enjoyed it. I learnt about the history of the media, the effects it has on consumers, I watched a whole timeline of films and analysed them accordingly, learnt to write in a journalistic manner, learnt a tiny bit about politics, and a whole host of other modules and areas. Three years went extremely quickly and I recently graduated and am now going on to study a further PGCE course. For me, university was my best option and I am so, so glad I did it.

Going to university will:

- Get you a good qualification if you work hard and do your best. A degree shows determination, commitment, and responsibility and can prove useful no matter what your prospective career might be.

- Scare you to death because of the debt - but there's really no need. The debt a student gathers during university can be daunting but it really needn't be, as there are conditions to your repayment so that they are manageable and not crippling.

- Build your confidence and social skills. Going to university forces you to talk to people, present to people and often socialise with people and contacts outside of your peer group. This is something I struggled with on and off during my uni experience, the thought of approaching people and being confident scared me to my wits end and if I'm being honest still does. But during my university life, I've had no choice but to man up and get on with it, or my grades would suffer as a result, I can honestly say that uni has helped me build confidence and given me the balls to put my point across and speak to those I wouldn't normally. I'll still struggle with this, undoubtedly, but uni gave me the realisation that sometimes, you have to do things you're not comfortable with, and because of that, I get on with things regardless of my apprehension. If I hadn't had these experiences, I reckon I would still be very introverted and have little to no self-confidence.

- As above, university gives you the opportunity to meet some fascinating people. It gave me some amazing friends that I never would've met without the university experience and it also forced me to meet some valuable industry contacts through my studies.

- Give you some unbelievable opportunities. Obviously I am still working towards my chosen career path but I have friends who have taken on work placements during their university experience and have been given some amazing opportunities and responsibilities through these.

- Give you a sense of independence. Or at least it will if you let it. I would like to think I am extremely independent due to my three years at university. It forces you into doing 'adult' things such as washing, cleaning, budgeting, etc. Albeit some of those responsibilities often lag a bit at times, but it is a great way to build your independence, if you really stick at it and don't rely too much on your parents doing your washing every weekend and pre-cooking your meals.

- Make memories that will last a lifetime. Some of the antics you will get up to at university will be hilarious, embarrassing and at times humiliating, but they make for great stories and cherished memories at the end. Where else would you get away with pushing your friend half way to the local club in a supermarket trolley or shoving chicken nuggets in a parking meter because McDonald's didn't give you any chips?

- Give you good prospects if you're willing to fight and chase them. I have to be honest, I haven't been great at this, I've often sat back and waited for things to happen, rather than being ballsy and grabbing things with both hands and running. But I'm fully aware that the most successful students from my year group have been the ones who were focused, knew what they wanted and gone at it in a balls out manner. So one piece of advice I would give to those going to university, would be to put yourself out there at every given opportunity, decide what you want and go for it. I wouldn't change anything about my own experiences other than I would do this much more if I had the chance.

So there you have a few pointers if you are making this decision very last minute or extremely early for next year. You'll find a lot of success stories from people who haven't gone to university but I rarely see anyone giving university the thumbs up. All I will say is, if you go, go for yourself, do what you think is right, and if you choose uni, embrace everything 100%. Except drugs, don't embrace drugs.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a really helpful post, I know the feeling. But I did go to uni and after recently finishing my degree I didn't regret it!
    Love your blog, new follower!
    Jess xo