The UCAS deadline has been and gone and simply hearing the word ‘university’ always makes me feel reminiscent. I wouldn’t say I’m qualified to discuss university at great length, but I am somebody who has accepted a place at university 3 years in a row (different universities, different courses… yes, I know), actually been a student twice, and only lasted around 3 months each time. So, the one thing I will qualify myself for is discussing when university isn’t right for you.
My university experiences are individual and are very long stories so, I won’t discuss it at length in this post but, after having a full year+ out of any form of education, I’ve finally realised that university & I aren’t friends. I’m not saying I’ll never be a student again; I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that 22 year old me has no desire for it.
If you’re having an inner fight with yourself over whether higher education is for you, this post is for you. I’m sharing 9 reasons that could be telling you 1, maybe you shouldn’t go. 2, Should maybe give yourself some more thinking time or 3, should maybe leave. The first four are reasons that will pop up before starting university and the final 5 are feelings you may have while there. I’ll start with the most prominent to me.
1.You don’t know what you want to do. 17/18 years old is a very young age to decide your forever career and you may be like me and have absolutely no idea. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll fit yourself into different careers and will have a lot of interests, but not one thing that really ignites the fire in you. In this case, choosing one of these small interests to spend £30,000+ of your money on, perhaps isn’t the wisest decision. There will be many different career paths that will spark the same small level of interest in you that will not take so much of your own money and will instead pay you an income.
2. You feel like you should go. Maybe you’ve had good GCSE and A level/college results and that’s made you feel like university is the next intelligent life choice and must be your next step. Not necessarily; university isn’t your only option. There are many different paths to being successful and many different options to explore for when you finish school.
3. It’s somebody else’s dream. Following on from the above, maybe you have a pushy parent, or maybe you’re in a serious relationship and your partner is going to university. Or maybe it’s your best friend leaving you and this has made you feel like you should go too. Life lesson: don’t ever do anything for somebody else.
Just because your parents have degree(s), doesn’t mean that’s the right path for you. In terms of relationships and friendships, yes, the strength of it will be tested if they/you go to university because you’ll be on different paths and potentially miles away. But like anything in life, if it’s real, will last it and this does not mean you need to follow suit.
4. You don’t need it. Think about what you want to do and then consider whether university is necessary. Maybe you want to be a makeup artist, a writer, an accountant, I don’t know. That’s just three of many career paths where you don’t have to go to university to be in that job role. Yes, having a degree may sometimes look better on your CV but experience is more valuable and a degree doesn’t automatically promise you your goal job at the end of it. So many people graduate university and end up in an unrelated job because it’s a difficult world we live in. Of course, there are careers where a degree is needed, so if that’s your dream, go for it. But if it isn’t, maybe you could re-evaluate.
5. It sacrifices your mental health. A lot of people feel some form of sadness or loneliness during university, and it’s more common if you’ve moved away from home. However, if it’s more than a phase and becomes your constant state, university might not be for you. And that doesn’t mean university will never be right for you. There are options: you can suspend the course for the following year, or even defer if you haven’t started yet. ~ It’s important to remember that if you suspend, you will still incur some costs for the time you have been at university but, your mental health and wellbeing is the priority.
6. You’re disinterested. Every lecture isn’t going to be your cup of tea. You’ll come across topics you love and topics you hate but, if you have zero interest in attending your lectures, or if it’s got to a point where you’re sat there taking absolutely nothing in and instead, scrolling through your phone, this can be a sign. It’s very easy to forget the student debt because you don’t pay it yet anyway and you never pay it all off, but you still have to think about whether you’re happy to have debt for something you have minimal interest in and are not putting at least 70% of your energy in.
7. You only like the social side. A large part of university is the social side. You meet so many new people and clubs host some of the best nights out for students, so it’s expected for students to have a good social life. But if that’s the only positive to university for you. Is it worth it? Once you’ve met your friends, you can stay in touch, you can still tag along to student events but maybe the actual university side of university, you know, the main bit, isn’t for you.
8. You travel home a lot. This will only be relevant if you’ve moved away for uni but if you travel home majority of the time, is there a point in living away? I was guilty of this both times I was at university. The first time was in Southampton and I was spending a fair amount of money getting the train home, quite often. It got to the point where nobody had time to miss me anymore. The second time, I was living in my hometown of Bristol but in halls and again, I spent about 5% of my time there.
For me, these all led to me realising that university altogether wasn’t for me. It may be the same for you, but it also could just be that halls aren’t for you. If you live close by, maybe consider commuting. And if you like your course but don’t want to live in halls, and live too far to commute, try finding a university closer to home that does the same course. It will be more beneficial to make small changes to make your university experience better for you rather than to let the unhappiness build up.
9. It just doesn’t feel right. Last but not least, and probably a culmination of above. University just might not feel right. This might not be the case for you, but I know it was for me. I feel that everybody was aware of the different options available but if you were achieving high grades, university was the obvious path. There was little to no consideration for personality, mental health and time.
I’m the biggest hypocrite for this following statement, but if you’re reading this you’re probably young and FYI, university doesn’t have to happen now. There’s no age limit on being a student so explore your options. Take a year out to see the world, or try working for a year. You might find you can fulfil your career expectations without going to university and if it doesn’t work out, you can apply for uni in the future.
I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom! I am so aware that university is the best time of a lot of peoples lives and I had some of my best times when at university in Southampton. My point is, you might have doubts, accept a place and then love it. I just think university is a huge decision that shouldn’t be rushed.
Let me know your opinions on this x