Lifestyle,  University Life

University: Is it Ultimately the Best Choice for You?

Arguably the first ‘big decision’ that most young people ever have to make: should I go to university?

Back in 2014 I was faced with this decision and at the time it was so over-whelming. Family, friends, and teachers were all giving their opinions as to whether or not I should go, which only made it more difficult. I feel like a lot of young people apply to uni because of a mix of pressure, and also because they think it’ll buy them more time to figure out what they actually want to do.

However, there are so many aspects to consider when making this decision. This is why I’ve written this post to hopefully make the process a little easier for some of you.

For me personally, I realised that at the end of the day it had to be MY decision, and I had to do what I thought was right for ME. With that in mind, I got accepted into the University of Winchester, and the following September I made the move to begin life as a ‘student’.

Do I regret it? No.

If I could go back and change a few things, would I? ABSOLUTELY.

What do you want to get out of university?

For some people it’s just a given, and they’ve known all throughout school that they intend on going to university. However for some it’s not quite as simple. When the fees jumped from £3000 a year to £9000 a year, this caused people to seriously consider whether what they wanted from university made the £27k+ debt worth it.

I know that for me personally, it probably wasn’t; but then again, I can’t imagine myself thinking that any experience costing £27k+ would be completely worth it.

Common reservations

If you don’t want to live at uni, there’s the open university. Depending on how far away your chosen university is, you might also have the option to commute if you’re not too keen on leaving home just yet.

If your chosen course isn’t necessarily a must-have requirement for most jobs in that sector, will you get enough out of the experience on it’s own?

Obviously there’s so much more to university than just the course itself. The friendships you make there can sometimes last a life-time. There are life skills you learn there that you never even thought you needed, and things that certainly weren’t taught in school. (Cringe alert) You might even meet the love of your life there, who knows.

If you really don’t fancy the debt, you can always look into local colleges or online courses that offer similar qualifications, at a fraction of the price. This way you’ll still further your education; you can work at the same time if that’s something you’d be interested in; and if you’re doing an online course you can do it completely at your own pace as it’s usually quite flexible.

going to university

Remember, the choice has to be YOURS

There may be people in your life who are laying on the pressure and trying to convince you that university is the only good option. But this is so not true. You could go straight into work or get an apprenticeship to build knowledge and skills; do a foundation degree; get some valuable work experience; take a gap year; or even start your own business! There’s no such thing as the ‘right way’ when it comes to your own life; especially when you’re being expected to make sure a huge decision at 17/18-years-old.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a gap year either. The worst thing you could probably do would be to put all this pressure on yourself and rush into a decision.

Which University Course?

If you still don’t know whether uni is the right choice for you, think about the course you would study. Sometimes industries specifically look for a degree on the CV, such as Medicine, Teaching, and Engineering; but a lot of the time it’s not an essential requirement.

If you’re really torn, then why don’t you try getting a job in the industry for a year and see how you like it. Obviously this may mean taking on a lower-level and lower-paying job. However it does mean that you’d get first-hand experience in that line of work, and then you can decide if you want to study it at university.

Please also remember that if you decide not to go to university at 18-years-old, this definitely does not mean you’ve missed your chance. I met loads of people at university who had taken a year/several years break between studies. It’s just whatever works best for each individual, and you can always decide to go to university at a later date if now is not the right time for you.

There are 1000s of university courses out there, and there are some very lucky people out there who know exactly which course they want to do. If you’re not one of these fortunate people, then try listing your interests or using Prospects.com to research different job roles. Not only will it give you a better idea of what you’d expect from the different jobs, but also what the requirements are.

going to university
The Primary School Teacher job profile on Prospects.com

I’ll link the Prospects website for you here: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/browse-sector

My Personal Crisis

This really had me stumped for a while. At the time I felt like I was going through such a crisis, because since I was about 13 I’d wanted to be a Primary School Teacher. However, when it came to writing the first line of my peronal statement, I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t for the life of me put into words why I actually wanted to do the job. I was so gutted.

This is when I realised that it obviously wasn’t the right path for me. I knew I wanted to work with children, so I decided to do Childhood and Youth Studies instead. I figured this way I could always pursue Primary Ed at a later date if I changed my mind.

Which University?

Big or small? Remote or city? Campus or off-campus? There are so many things to think about, which is why I can’t recommend open days enough!

Open days give you the perfect chance to explore the campus and see if you get a feel for it. I remember having a particular university in mind because I loved the prospectus and the look of the course itself; but when my Dad took me to see it we actually really didn’t like it! It wasn’t particularly well-presented, and they’d spent loads of money doing a new (and expensive!) accommodation. But this meant that they had left the other accommodation options completely neglected. We went to view one and my Dad asked ‘where do they eat?’, and the tour guide just said ‘oh they usually just sit on the floor in the hallway’. So that was interesting 😂.

On the other hand, when I visited Winchester I instantly fell in love with it. I could definitely see myself studying there and living there for the next 3 years. I knew I wanted a campus uni so it ticked that box, and it wasn’t too big which I also liked. Overall I was very pleased with my decision to study there, and I had a lovely 3 years.

If you take anything from this post, let it be this: despite what people may tell you, university does NOT have to be done straight away. Nor is it something that is going to be the ‘best choice’ for every individual out there.

Have you been to university or are looking into going? I’d love to hear your personal experiences with the decision-process, and what you would change if you could!

Find our latest post here: https://www.emgoingplaces.com/2020/08/a-positive-thing-for-every-day-in-july/

18 Comments

  • Michelle

    This is such an excellent post. My younger daughter is just going into her last year of high school and we’ve been having this conversation a lot. I’m not sure what it’s like in the UK, but here in Canada any student who shows academic potential is pushed into the university stream and people just assume that’s where they will go. My daughter has always been an excellent student but she has NO desire to go to university. She loves to be doing and creating things so a hands-on course or trade will be more her thing. She’s been happy with the shift to online school because she doesn’t have to put up with people asking her which university she’s going to multiple times a day.

    University is great but it isn’t for everyone. I wish all kids were presented with all their options and then they could follow the path that’s right for them. There is still such a stigma related to manual labour, even if it’s a skilled trade.

    • emandjess

      It can be such a daunting time for young people, especially if they are being put under such pressure like you say. I hope your daughter does what is best for her, and we wish her all the best! You’re right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going down a different path, especially with the debt that university leaves you with afterwards.

  • The Doubting Thomas

    As ever, such a detailed and informative post. I left school at 16 and went out to work; university was never on the cards. One thing I take from my situation though is that I gained so many life skills from starting a career that early – uni wasn’t for me but this is such a comprehensive overview for those who choose to take it! Great post ladies 😊

    • emandjess

      Thank you so much 🙂 yeah sometimes I wish I’d waited and worked for a couple of years before deciding whether or not to go to university, which is why I urge every young person to seriously weigh up their options first to make sure it’s the best choice for them!

  • Jeremy Scott

    Excellent, excellent post. I wish I would have had something like this to read when I was preparing to go to university. I ended up getting lost in it all and my mental health suffered horribly. I wish I would have waited to go to uni. But you live and you learn. Regardless, great post!

    • emandjess

      I feel exactly the same way, I think if I could go back I’d definitely take a year off to work and save, and then use the 5 month summer breaks to go travelling! But I definitely don’t regret it, I still got a lot from the experience 🙂

  • Ellie-M

    Such a great post! My uni years are well behind me but I remember I only went and did a course I had no interest in because thats what we were meant to do. I think its much too young to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Of course if you already know, then that’s fine. Very good points you made 👏

    • emandjess

      Me too, I look at 17/18 year-olds now and wonder how on earth they’re supposed to know what they want to do for the next 45 years of work! Thank you for your comment 🙂

  • Katie (The Twenty Percent)

    This is a really well thought out post. I think so many people are pressured into university, without considering whether it’s the right choice for them. Personally, I had a great three years at Bristol Uni and it’s definitely helped me since, but that doesn’t mean other people would have the same experience!

  • Nancy

    University can be a trap if we end up going in major debt and have a hard time paying it off. I know for me, I went for the cheapest route and ended up fine. Sometimes, we feel like the major we end up choosing wasn’t right for us. Thanks for sharing the truth about uni!

    Nancy ✨ exquisitely.me

    • emandjess

      I completely agree with you Nancy, and to be honest as much as I loved my uni experience, if I could go back and perhaps change my choice of degree then I probably would. Young people nowadays face so much pressure to go to university when I think schools should be making them aware of all their options x

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