Should You Go to University? – A Student’s Opinion

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These days it seems to be the social norm to go to university after completing further education. However, under many circumstances this may not always be the best choice for us. Given that you are reading this article, it is likely that you have questions about whether university should be part of your next steps. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer as we are all very different. Having said that if you are hoping for a career that definitely requires university qualifications, then you should go to university! On the other hand, if qualifications aren’t paramount then other potential paths that may be more beneficial to you. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article could very well differ from your own. This article is meant purely to guide and provide advice.  

This article will try to aid you by suggesting factors for you to consider when deciding whether university is the right direction for you.

Why do People Attend University?

Universities are citadels for higher education, where you have the opportunity to gain expertise and expand your knowledge for future career prospects. 

Assuming you successfully obtain a degree, like a BSc or a BA, it opens up a greater variety of jobs for you to apply to, as employers can assume you hold the basic skills and knowledge to meet the job criteria. Moreover, owning a university degree also seems to be the basic requirement to most employers, in this current society. A great proportion of students also enrol themselves into university as they have a specific career in mind, which mandates for a university qualification.  

Obtaining a degree in specialty courses, like medicine or education (teaching degrees), is essential for specialty careers. For example, becoming a health care professional or a high school teacher. This is because professional skill sets are taught with respect to the careers students in these courses aim for. 

In many cases university also serves as a place for self-discovery. Students are able to dabble in subjects they find interesting in order to figure out what they want to do in the future.  

Most universities have a wide range of students from all sorts of backgrounds because of this you have the chance to not only get a degree but also learn about the world and other people’s cultures. The combination of learning knew knowledge of your subjects and being submerged in a diversified environment could potentially inspire you in uncovering your future career path.

It is also important to be aware that numerous students who are currently attending university did not immediately apply upon their completion of sixth form college. There is no fixed timing for you to go to university! You could even consider a gap year, read here to find out more. 

Things You Should Consider Before Attending University? 

Upon your decision to apply for university you should definitely evaluate whether spending three to six years for a higher education is what you want and need. 

If you are really struggling to make up your mind on whether university is right for you, talking to those who have been through this thought process before, will be extremely beneficial. Your parents, peers and even teachers could always give you guidance on whether you should go to university or not, by describing their own experiences.  

Their varying circumstances will presumably give them different perspectives on attending university. You can draw from their suggestions and experiences to make up your own judgement. Although, never let them decide what is right for you because only you will know that for yourself! 

Going to university is challenging, time consuming and expensive experience. If you are unsure on whether you should attend university maybe you should take some time to look at these influencing factors. Please note that the listed factors are only a few of many factors that you can consider as part of your decision.

Social Influences

As mentioned above, for many, the norm to post-secondary education is to attend university for a higher education. However, this never means that you are supposed to go to university no matter what!  

Many of your friends could be going to university, or people around you expect you to go to university which may prompt you to attend as well. In this case, you should stop and reconsider your options as it may not actually be what is best for you.

The aim of going to university is to learn and earn marketable skills and qualifications. If this is not one of your main priorities and you don’t really have a plan maybe consider alternative options before making your decision.

A University Degree Does Not Ensure Success and Success Does Not Always Require a University Degree

Undoubtedly, worrying about finding jobs and succeeding in their careers are stress factors for a vast majority of people. A Common misconception is that without a university degree you will never do better than having one, as well as, believing that having a degree is a guarantee to doing well.

In lots of occupational arenas, especially those who require practical skills, employers value work experience over a degree certificate. With almost everyone holding a diploma these days going to university for the sake of it may not put you at an advantage. Instead, having a CV with hands-on experience in your interested field could gain you a better chance of getting to where you want to be. 

What is Your End Goal and Career Path?

Does your intended career choice require an actual degree qualification? Will having a degree benefit you in the future? These are questions you should ask yourself before choosing to go to university. 

There are careers such as lawyers, nurses, doctors, and teachers where having a specific degree in these respective courses is compulsory. There are also careers like marketing and theoretical physics, in which having a degree (for example in economics and physics) can benefit you.  However, artistic and humanitarian careers such as becoming an actor, a musician or a chef would benefit from having experience in the particular field.

Before making your decision make sure you do your research to have a clear idea what your career choices need you to possess.

Costs of Attending University 

How much do universities cost? The answer is a lot; university is not cheap and never has been. It costs thousands of pounds a year to attend university and even though students can get a loan to in order to attend this causes students to leave university with lots of debt. Check out this article to learn more about the costs of university.

Despite university education being costly if you are extremely passionate about your subject, do not give up on going to university! There is always an approach to find funding for your university place, such as applying for a university scholarship or taking out student loans. If you are needing financial help to attend university, check out this guide on how to get a scholarship. Also check out this article to find out all about student loans.

Are You Prepared for the University Workload?

When comparing the contents of A-Levels, GCSEs, and equivalent courses to university we can see a massive difference. The complexity of the content and workload required is much more intense in most university courses than in our secondary and further education. Read this article to find out more about the difficulty of doing a degree. 

If you feel that you are not capable to adjust to the changes there are always alternatives you can take, such as taking a gap year or taking an apprenticeship. You are allowed to take on other opportunities to help build up your confidence of taking on a higher workload compared to your experience in your secondary education. Lacking the confidence in having the ability to handle the difference in intensity will make your university experience more stressful. Thus, it is vital that you can prepare yourself before deciding to go to university to ensure you gain the maximum benefit from it. 

What are the Other Options if You Don’t Attend University? 

Alternatives are often overlooked due to the substantial emphasis on attending university, but with every decision made there are always other options you can take if you wish to. If you do feel that attending university right now may not benefit you the most you can take a look at these other choices: 

Take a Gap Year 

A ‘gap year’ is a period of time taken out by students who are leaving sixth form before entering into university. This option is perfect for those who want to attend university but believe that the timing isn’t right for them yet. 

Through taking a gap year you may be able to obtain a clearer perspective on what you want to do. You have the freedom to travel, gain experience and insight into your prospective career, as well as pursuing interests you couldn’t have done during your studies. Doing something different could motivate you to continue your initial passion or stimulate you to a change in direction. Regardless, taking a gap year has many benefits, click here for a guide on how to take a gap year.

Apply for a Job

Whether it’d be a part-time job or a full-time job, either way it will provide you with a level of understanding into working in our society. It can also be incorporated into your gap year experience! 

There are various types of entry-level jobs that do not require higher qualifications, such as paid internships or clerk jobs, as well as working in some service industries.

Although, these jobs are not likely to pay plenty, they can be listed as one of your work experiences that could potentially boost your application to universities or other jobs if you decide to stay in the working world. 

Do an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships combine studying and working in a particular field. The great thing about these is you can actually get paid!

There are many different types of apprenticeships, these range from GCSE level all the way up to master’s degree level. Apprenticeships could be a great option for you if applying yourself practically is better suited to you. Check out this article for a full comprehensive guide on apprenticeships.

Volunteering

Applying to become a volunteer is not only a valuable exposure to your interested career choice, but also highly appreciated by universities and many employers. Especially those who are interested in a career in healthcare or education. 

Similar to applying for a job, you are exposed to the working world where you can improve your existing skills as well as letting yourself acquire new skills. You will also be exposed to other people from a variety of backgrounds. This is great as this work is helping you to form helpful connections that could aid you in your future prospects.

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