After reading an article in The Telegraph in line with recent A-Level results about University, I feel like I should stand up for the University experience which seems to have been forgotten by the jumped up Politics student, guilty of professing that you should only go to University if you get into a top UK University.
I went to what would be considered as a ‘mediocre’ University and studied a ‘mediocre’ course, and sometimes I think I would most certainly be further in a career right now if I hadn’t gone to University at all. The fact of the matter still remains that this career I would have would not be in something I really want to do, and since graduating, the majority of jobs I’ve applied for state ’MUST have a degree’.
Apprenticeships and work experience are also both excellent and the decision whether to go to University should be based simply on whether you want to go or not, because there is a hell of a lot more to the experience than the degree itself. So I am writing this to give those youngsters getting their results and making decisions about their future a slightly more honest viewpoint.
Yes fees have risen recently and I was lucky enough to have started University before this, but hearing people say ‘I’m not paying £9000 for tuition fees’ is tiring. Not all courses and Universities have risen by this much. The article I read this morning states that you should only go to University if you get into one of the top-rated institutions, but it is these institutions that will be charging full whack for their courses when there are plenty of respected Universities that don’t hold themselves on such a pedestal.
No matter how much your fees are Student Finance will still cover these fees and yes you will walk away at the end with a substantial amount of debt no matter what, but what people that write these articles forget to mention is that you will only start paying this back once you are earning over £21,000 a year. If you become unemployed or earn less than this, the repayments will stop and there are no repercussions. Like my Dad used to say: ‘no one’s going to be coming knocking on your door for it’.
The Academic Stuff
Choosing your course wisely is something which is very important in determining how well you will do at University. Many people sneer at ‘lesser’ degrees such as those in the Arts and only respect courses which they deem more academically viable. However when choosing your course the main thing to consider is how high an interest you have in that particular field; don’t feel pressured to do a degree in Political Science to impress people when your interest in it is borderline zero. Undertaking a course you have no passion for will result in you being miserable and in most cases not gaining very good marks because of this.
Many employers now expect candidates to have a degree and although in most cases this is to ensure you have knowledge in the field, having a degree shows much more than being academically able. Being a graduate shows that you can pursue something and complete it to a high standard; it shows the ability to keep to deadlines, the ability to balance work and social life, and most importantly it shows commitment.
The Life Skills
University gives you so much more than a degree; it gives you an education in life that I feel you would be hard pushed to find anywhere else, more specifically if you choose to go away to University. It throws you in the deep end and teaches you how to look after yourself in any different ways…
- Money Management
Most students are always tight on cash, that’s a fact of life that many parents like to joke about: I forever heard ‘I bet you just live on Super Noodles’ ha…ha…ha. In reality students get plenty of money to live on if they never socialised…ever, but what tends to happen is you learn to prioritise your money. You always hear of students having no money to eat but always having money for nights out and this is certainly no accident. You learn to budget in one area to have money for another and although eating pretty unhealthy so you can afford to go out on a Wednesday night is a pretty warped example, it’s still solid evidence that University teaches you how to manage your money!
- Maintaining a household
Ever since going to University I have a new found respect when I walk into someone’s home and it’s spotless. I never realised just how much work goes into keeping a house tidy let alone actually clean and boy do you need to clean your student housing if you don’t want it smell like a compost heap situated in a brewery.
Not to mention cooking, I’ve always been pretty able in the kitchen and would never starve or have to live on cereal, but some people are pretty clueless when getting to Uni. When moving into my halls of residence a poor guy I lived with didn’t even know how to fry an egg, at 18(!) but with nobody around to take over the task for you, survival instinct kicks in and you soon learn the basics.
Then there are tasks such as washing clothes, food shopping, and all of the other things you just don’t consider when the rents are around to do it for you. Simple as they may seem, doing a food shop in your pyjamas stinking of last nights vodka whilst thinking of what to put in the essay that’s due in tomorrow is multi-tasking to the extreme!
- Social Skills
Finally, the social skills you gain at University will be with you forever. For those with little confidence, kiss shyness goodbye as you really have no choice but to talk to every Tom, Dick and Harry during those first few weeks. Not to mention the endless presentations you will be expected to carry out during your course. Daunting as it may seem to begin with; all you need to remember is that everyone is in the same boat and absolutely everyone will want to be your friend (well for the first few weeks at least).
Finally, some of the people you will meet at University will be amazing friends for life. These are people that will truly see you at your highest and lowest points. They will know things about you that you wouldn’t dream of telling anyone else and for that reason alone I believe it is money and time well spent.