IS UNIVERSITY ALWAYS THE RIGHT CHOICE?

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Today I saw alot of happy statuses, tweets, blog posts and screen shots of acceptance UCAS emails, the same thing I posted a year ago today. I remember biting my nails right down and losing sleep over the results I recieved, to realise it’s not the end of the world if I did get terrible results, I tried my hardest and thankfully I was more than over the moon with my own. I felt proud of myself for the first time, to complete something and advance to a new chapter of my life. This is a subject I’ve wanted to touch upon since May finishing my first year in Chester.

 Univeristy is a very personal choice. I know so many people that signed up for all the wrong reasons, you invest in your knowledge and not the certificate and hat throwing ceremony at the end or the drinking and relationships. I’m going to walk you through my experiences this year and what I expected and didn’t.

Luckily I was never faced with the gruelling challenge of having to live on my own, but this year was a very independent year for me, I sat down with my parents, the two people who have cotton wooled me my entire life and talked about my lack of independence and how I’ll never learn to live if I’m not set goals. I knew how to look after myself and even cook better meals than some restaurants (a rarity amongst students) but aspects of life such as looking after finances, bargaining for deals, learning how to pay bills and fill out forms are generally not taught in mainstream education when becoming an all round adult, now I look at these things like I was born with the knowledge, but unfortunately there is a time we must learn and grow into the people we shape ourselves to be.

It’s tough because at such a young age, everything is expected of us, we’re told that in such a short space of time we are supposed to find ourselves and choose what we want to do for the rest of our lives. Amongst battling hormones, friendships, relationships and more, being a teenager was the most stressing experience of my life, and whilst I met the most amazing people I knew at some point I would have to sacrifice those friendships to find some time for me to grow up a little.

 

I must point out by no stretch is university the measurement of success, some of the most successful people in the world didn’t have qualifications and although some fields have requirements to which a Degree, Masters or even PhD is compulsory, I believe knowledge and experience battles over what college or university you went to, they merely shorten the hurdles to success.

I couldn’t help but think that there are some people who choose not to go to university, that do not require it, why do we only reward the majority who do go as the ‘successful’ people, about 3/4th’s of my class dropped out, leaving few to proceed to the next year, of which I know a few of my class mates have not made it through. University is tough… there is no dancing round that point. In college it was believed that it you didn’t take the classes on writing an application for university you were to lead a poorly educated life. I disagree with the alienation treatment from classmates, as we all choose our own paths, and not those to suit the education system or impress our parents.

 

I always knew investing in knowledge was the thing for me, my dream job I wished to pursue did need refinement of my own taught skills, and I saw university as an opportunity to showcase the things I love , more than the end result. I decided on Photography and Graphic Design, two things I was self taught by and knew I had a future in. I lived every day like it was last, taking every opportunity as an artist to get my work out there. I can speak only for my own, but university seemed more of a competitive atmosphere than college and more anti-social than I thought it was going to be, more animalistic than friendly, as everyone adopted the attitude of ‘every man for him/herself’. For me it was very lonely year, I made few friends, but for the first time I didn’t mind that, I was to invest great sums of money into me and not waste precious seconds on not learning.

The best people I found were the teachers, more social and knowledgeable creatures, the one piece of advice I want anyone to take from this blog post is to network every last contact out your tutors, these people know the best in business and could be your potential future clients, you want to impress them as much as you can. I went to the University of Chester, a place where the creative arts campus was a very long walk away from any other subjects, this worked to my benefit,  as someone that hates distraction the creative vibes that glowed from that building made it a very warming place to work amongst music, drama and fine art students. I got my head down and worked my absolute arse off. I even managed to grab contacts and get my work in the local gallery, something I dreamed about since I was little. My hard work paid off, I got the same feeling I had a year ago today getting my A-Level Results. I passed with flying colours. Major Sigh.

Be wise with your money, invest in equipment, my mum and dad had bought me everything I had and one small goal I agreed on was I was to buy my own equipment and invest in my future. Every lens cap, camera filter and soft box light was one step closer to my independence. I only learnt how to save my money in the last few months and wish it was something I started from the beginning. My tuiton fee was £7000 after a £2000 reduction on a scholarship. Apply your current knowledge to work out how long it is going to take you in a job of your choice to work that off. As much as I wanted to move to London and go to St Martins College of Art I knew I would be practically homeless and broke by my first year, university isn’t free, and especially not in London.

During my time off before my second year, I realised I needed to network, refine my choices, something I like to do once in a while to help step up my game and think what weaknesses can I improve on. This blog was one of them, it made me so much more confident, something I’ve always struggled with. I feel now I could walk in to a presentation in front of many people and talk passionately about a subject. (Something I chickened out of last year and had a crazy panic attack over)

If you’re choosing what you want to do with your life, take a year or two to really think over the decisions you make. Would it make you happy? Do you want to become more independent? Can you handle the expenses that come when going to University?

Network with everyone you can, and be happy to everyone – you never know who you’re going to meet.

Learn a little about the place you’re staying in – it doesn’t kill to know a little culture

Read some books on money management

Have at least 10 healthy recipes you can cook off my heart

Don’t go out drinking every night

Learn when to rest and stop procrastination

Make at least one friend you can stick by through everything

Don’t let other put you down for your personal decisions – you are not a failure

Make a creative CV to stand out from the crowd

Take up internships in various departments of a company

Start a blog – you never know where it will take you

Stay passionate and true to what you believe

Put yourself on various job sites, and create a LinkedIn account

I hope this has at least helped a few souls unsure where to go, good luck to those starting soon, it’s not the easy option, and responsibilities will head in your direction but if you can come out knowing you’ve learnt something good if was worth your tuition fee

What are you deciding to do this year? 

 

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28 Comments

  1. August 14, 2014 / 6:41 pm

    I think it's brave that you've written a piece about your personal choices. Last summer I got great A Level results and in September started university… I left after 6 weeks. Now I have a job at an amazing fashion company in Camden as a buyer's assistant. It just shows that if you want something enough you can get there with or without a degree. Uni is great but it isn't for everyone! 🙂

    http://www.styleandlondon.blogspot.co.uk

  2. August 14, 2014 / 6:52 pm

    I love this post! I'm not ready to choose whether or not to go to university yet but I have always felt that I would rather just get experience instead which seems to go completely against what they say at school, it's very structured and routine to do GCSE's, then A-Levels and then Uni.

    http://www.jessmcguireblogs.blogspot.co.uk

  3. August 14, 2014 / 7:07 pm

    Really interesting post. What I fear about University is the expenses, my dream is to go to UCL but it's the living costs that really put me off. A very stressful and exciting time for anyone!

    Nik
    NIKJAMESS | Fashion & Lifestyle

  4. August 14, 2014 / 8:11 pm

    That's precisely it, formal education tells us you have to go to university and as someone that has stayed on I should be defending it to the end but at the end of the day it's a very personal choice that people invest in!
    I'm so glad to hear you're doing so well, in central london too, what a dream! 🙂

  5. August 14, 2014 / 8:13 pm

    I'm so glad you love it! Think through your decisions very careful and consider the responsibilities behind it, it's both expensive and a risk, but comes with great rewards!
    Schools at the end of the day want to look good that they have successful students going into further education, they don't care for individuals unfortunately!!!!

  6. August 14, 2014 / 8:18 pm

    This makes two of us, I'm planning to go there for my masters if I can fund living down there for a year!!!
    I would personally say to that is to work hard if its your dream, but to not be disappointed if you can't go and go with the flow!

  7. August 14, 2014 / 8:42 pm

    I'm already in university (actually close to finishing) so obviously, I've made the choice but I really liked this post. Personal and helpful. You made a lot of great points I agree with.

    Especially this: "For me it was very lonely year, I made few friends, but for the first time I didn't mind that, I was to invest great sums of money into me " Less friends and more time for myself was definitely new in uni for me but I've come to like it.

  8. August 14, 2014 / 9:01 pm

    I'm so glad you like the post, I've got such a good reaction from this I thought this would ruffle a few feathers amongst opposing ideas of university
    and I know it's such a strange thought for me!

  9. August 14, 2014 / 9:08 pm

    This is such a great post! I agree that university isn't always the right choice – when I got my A-level results and found out i'd got into my first choice I was ecstatic. But in reality I think I was only happy to have not been a 'failure'. During my first few weeks it became apparent that my 'dream course' was in no way shape or form what I wanted to spend three years doing, and I certainly did not want to be at university. Looking back I realise there was so much pressure to go to university that I just went along with my friends, like a sheep. After dropping out and spending some time figuring out what I really wanted I did go back – but on my own accord and to do a degree of my choice.

  10. August 14, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing something so personal, I'm glad you took the time to go back after thinking things through, shows some strength that you know it's for you, people need to learn to think for themselves and decide what THEY want to do, it seems the in thing to just go to uni for the hell of it, but at the end of the day you're specialising in a subject that you may not necessarily enjoy!!! x

  11. August 14, 2014 / 9:25 pm

    I actually went to uni straight out of school with no idea what I wanted to do. It seemed right at the time because all of my friends were doing it but actually i hated the course and dropped out after one year! I've only just went back to uni again at the older age of 22, which is when I would have actually graduated!! Scary! This time around though I love everything that university has to offer me, and I actually love my course! You don't have to go to uni straight away if you don't want to, take a few gap years if you want! I just wish they told us that in school:)

    thechinadolldiaries.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. August 14, 2014 / 9:36 pm

    You've definitely done the right thing by taking some time away to think about what you really wanted to do, people fear to come back slightly older, I was one year out of from everyone and somehow that made me feel different despite the fact it's university and you can be any age, we have a 70 year old man on our course, so I dread to think how different he must feel. I'm soooooo happy you're having a wonderful time on your new course it sounds fab!!!!!

    xxxxxxx

  13. August 14, 2014 / 9:39 pm

    Really love this post, tells it how it is! I love how honest you are and even though you go to university you're not being biased towards it! Lovely! Abi 🙂 myw0rldmyview.blogspot.co.uk

  14. August 14, 2014 / 9:52 pm

    It's exactly what I set out to do, tell it how it is, regardless of the circumstance, I would rather people learn before they go and make the same mistakes as me!
    Glad you like the post dear 🙂

  15. August 14, 2014 / 9:59 pm

    I left sixth form after AS and since then I have been unemployed for 99.9% which has put me off the working world. I am back too collage to do a BTEC in a passion of mine, creative writing. I have learnt a lot about myself in the last year and where I want too go in life. I am more than happy taking a course is something I am passionate in and seeing where it takes me. In terms of university I used too want too go but being in the "real world" has caused me too realise that it is a life changing situation that I want too go and experience when I am going too be invested in the course. Basically go too uni if you are passionate about a said subject, not because you feel as though you have too

  16. August 14, 2014 / 10:01 pm

    Great advice!
    I went to university and ended up with three different degrees. Am I using any of them? No. I'm not even in any of the fields that I studied. However, I still think that university was worth the money, just because having a strong background in formal education makes me feel more confident when interacting with others.
    ChicAndAlluring.com

  17. August 14, 2014 / 10:05 pm

    It sounds you know now what field of work you wish to go into, I wouldn't dare approach something if I didn't know I atleast could have a shot at being successful in it, it simply is taking the time out to realise your strengths and refining the parts you aren't so successful at. I'm so glad to hear you're liking the current course and wish to pursue creative writing, I believe a subject highly underrated!!

  18. August 14, 2014 / 10:06 pm

    Reading this was insane, three different degrees? You said you feel confident when interacting with others, that experience will take you places! 🙂

  19. August 15, 2014 / 3:01 am

    I graduated less than a year ago, and i'm well out of the average range of recent grads. I'm not ashamed, but rather thankful. I was able accomplish a lot before starting over again.

    Experiences shape us–and we should be appreciative of each of them as the arise

    Networking is a definite must–always!

    This was such a great post!

    xoxo
    Jessica
    http://vivaciouseventslv.com/blog/17.

  20. August 15, 2014 / 8:45 am

    I am going back to school myself in January it was a hard decision but i know it will pay of in the end

  21. August 15, 2014 / 10:41 am

    Definitely be thankful, you've achieved something great!!!!!
    that's such a brilliant quote, experience shapes us, which is true, we wouldn't be familiar with things if it wasn't the mistakes we made in life

    So glad you liked the post 🙂
    xxxxx

  22. August 15, 2014 / 5:04 pm

    I'm at uni now and I love it, but I didn't get the grades for the course I originally wanted to do. I had to go through clearing and ended up doing a different course, but I was still at my dream university so I decided to try and make it work. Two years on and I've discovered I like the course I'm doing way more than I would have done the other one 🙂 great advice x

  23. August 15, 2014 / 6:15 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! I'm a senior in high school and will be graduation soon, and I'm always worried about what the future holds. Your honesty made me feel a bit more prepared for what is to come. xx

    http://voguedreamland.blogspot.com

  24. August 15, 2014 / 11:58 pm

    I'm so glad university has worked to your advantage and you've managed to get on the course you wanted!!!! X

  25. August 15, 2014 / 11:59 pm

    Over the moon that this has helped you!!!! Xxx

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