I feel like I entered the pre-university process with a lackluster attitude. Education is really valued in my family therefore going to university felt like a given and the prospect of not going was not even on the table let alone discussed. I do not at all resent this because university was definitely the best option for me and I have no regrets.
To go to university or not. That is the question.
However, with over half of my friendship group from back home either on a gap year, dropped out of university or pursuing alternate methods of higher education, I feel like it’s a really important discussion to have. Similarly, some of my friends are still in college or secondary school and I believe should thoroughly begin to consider this. This is by no means a comprehensive discussion, I’m not saying that these are the only things to consider and I am definitely not attempting to devalue the university system.
Nevertheless, a large proportion of students in my sixth form took a year out for various reason. Fair enough, it really was the stereotypical “gap yahh” kind of school, but this also demonstrates that going straight into higher education is not the only option. Surely it is better to to take a year out and really think about what you want from life rather than jump in and then eventually drop out or change your course. This not only wastes an entire year but puts you further in debt.
Furthermore, I believe times truly have changed. You do not have to go to university anymore to get the best job. And even the types of jobs that are on offer have changed; people have so much more choice than in the past. There are many examples of successful people who did not pursue higher education. Of course for certain professions I am sure having a degree really is the best option and for me that was the definitive factor and is what has kept me going. Exam season was certainly a struggle and without the knowledge of the end goal and the centrality of a degree in achieving this I really am not sure if I would have made it through.
A university degree is not easy.
I’m not sure if this is a universally felt experience but certainly at Warwick there appears to be some degree snobbery. If the level of hate first year History students received about only having one exam is anything to go by, then this snobbery is very real. Despite this I feel people need to realise that whatever you’re studying will be hard or at least hard some of the time. Just the very nature of independent study is challenging. And if your end goal does not require a degree it becomes increasingly difficult to stay and work hard.
This is something I feel needs be looked into more. It is certainly not a case of:
I do not have a degree therefore, I will not have a good job”
With the government proposing to invest so much in alternate forms of education such as apprenticeships and vocational courses, we now have more choice. Similarly, with the job market becoming increasingly saturated with graduates, merely having a degree no longer acts as a differentiating factor. I really don’t think there’s a point in just getting a degree for the sake of it unless you can find enjoyment in it, truly feel that it with either facilitate an ambition or improve you as a person.
People are also going to have to work for a lot longer than they did. For example, in 2013 the World Health Organisation estimated the average life span of women in England as 83. Simultaneously, the eligible age for a state pension is also increasing. We will working for so much longer than people did in the past. In addition, tuition fees in England are now £9,000 which does not even take into consideration accommodation costs, food and socialising. Going to university is an expensive venture. Consequently, I think we also need to alter the standard by which we measure what is considered as a ‘good job’. Job satisfaction is now so much more important than it may have been before.
Essentially I am investing in my future. I feel like the money that is spent now will have higher return on the capital invested later (Business studies A level is clearly ingrained in my mind). However, any shrewd business prior to making a huge investment does their research. So why when investing so much do many of us go into the university process with our eyes blind?
A very simple but hugely important question we all need to ask is:
Why am I going to university?
If you cannot come up with a reason apart from it being the ‘done thing’ then the likelihood is that you probably should not go.
Retrospectively, I went to university because having a degree actually seemed like the easiest route into a fiercely competitive profession. However, If you asked me now to ‘sell’ university to you, probably none of the aforementioned reasons in this post would feature. I would emphasize that “UNAYYY” experience (check out my post on first year). That sense of being young, free and ready take on the world. I really do not think you will get another opportunity like this and I would love everyone to able to have this experience. The uni halls, societies, nights out, new people….but this all comes at a price and one must also consider if it is worth it.
That said I have to admit that I often wonder exactly what I’m paying for because at times it seems like the majority of what I have learnt is from online resources or textbooks, but that is a different conversation for a different day and for me going to university really was the best choice. When I evaluate the opportunity cost of not going, I know I made the right decision. However, this is something I believe that everyone should consider extensively before making a decision.
It’s just me, Dammy, offering another perspective.