Despite what society screams at you, you do not need to attend university to become successful in life. If you’re like me, a student who is in doubt about whether University is for her, you can still drop out and… EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY! Of course, before you drop out, you should plan what you want to do when you sign your degree away. Perhaps the reason I haven’t dropped out yet is because I am indecisive about what I wish to do with a degree or without a degree. If I could be paid 40k to lounge on a tropical island, where my only care in the world would be which cocktail to drink at dinner that would be fabulous.
During first year, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I knew there was other stuff I would rather be doing with my younger years than binge-watching a Netflix series whilst my shared kitchen slowly became a home for disease and mice. The only difference between 1st year and 2nd year was that my mental health became a lot worse and that’s when I came to the realisation that academia is not worth risking your health over.
Luckily for me, I was prescribed anti-depressants for my anxiety; have had amazing support from my boyfriend and I am now less stressed about getting a degree than last exam season. It is because of this reassurance that academia is not the only thing that matters in life, I’ve found that I’ve been working better with keeping up with my uni work; it was the stress and the panicking before that wasted my energy and concentration.
Below is some advice about deciding whether or not University is for you which I’ve learnt from two years of not feeling fulfilled from University and two years of absolutely hating A levels.
(PS. If you’re more interested in my advice on how to take care of your mental health whilst studying at university then check out my post on Taking care of your mental health whilst at University)
Okay, I am going to sound slightly like a careers adviser here, but, does the degree, or doing a degree full-stop, benefit you in your career aims? Years ago, a degree was something that few people got, but now, so many more people are going to University and plenty of people find themselves unemployed for longer than 6 months after they graduate; I have spoken to many Uber drivers who had degrees in a wide range of subjects, and when graduating just could not find a job in the area they were after. Of course this shouldn’t be the only reason to base your decision on attending uni upon, in fact, a lot of graduate jobs start on high salaries and if your CV is great and you have that element of luck associated with employment then you could be one of those fortunate souls.
However, there are different routes into many careers which do not require a degree. Sometimes it can be easier to start in a lower paid job and work your way up. This can be extremely beneficial because by the time the graduates finish their degrees and are looking for work, they will be up against you who will have 3/4 years work experience in the industry you’ve applied for. However, please bear in mind the obvious… some careers require a specific degree, for example, if you wish to be a brain surgeon, I expect you must know that a degree in medicine is essential.
One of the main reasons I came to university was to move out and become independent. I chose to study in Manchester for two reasons: to live in a city, because there are a lot more opportunities for me than in my home town; and I wanted to live far enough away from home that the distance would prevent my home-sickness from taking me home every weekend. When I applied, I didn’t know what a Russel-group university was. I looked at where I wanted to live and I assumed that high entry requirements equalled a good University. In terms of choosing the right course, I would advise choosing the course > the location, because after all, you are paying for the course and need to be able to put that first. If you can’t enjoy your course, how do you expect to enjoy University?
I attend a Russel-group university and that doesn’t make me feel any more intelligent than someone who does not attend a Russel-group university. In-fact, I didn’t even know what a Russel-group university was until I arrived at one and some pretentious students were mocking a near-by university for not being one. After studying in a ‘prestigious’ university for two years, I’ve came to the conclusion that I wish I were on a more practical course; I study Drama and envy my friend who is studying television production. If you take one thing from this article, take this piece of advice… do not just look at a university league table and then aim to attend the one at the top. It is not always the one most ideal for you, this is especially true for the students who do not wish to continue their academic career into postgraduate education.
One thing you will be warned about when you come to university is… you will have no money! Even if you receive the highest of loans, one thing I’ve learned in life is that unexpected finance issues pop up and you may not be ready for them. My advice here would be to SAVE YOUR PENNYS before you arrive at University. Keep that money in a separate account until you really need it. To those who have their parents to get them out of sticky situations this still applies to you. What harm could having extra money really do? Do you want to have to turn down nights outs because you weren’t prepared, no? Then follow this advice and SAVE YOUR PENNYS! As my grandma always says, “look after your pennies and your pounds will take care of themselves!”
DISCLOSURE: The most annoying expense you will have when living in University accommodation is the outrageous amount those circuit washing machines charge! You’ll be paying around £5 a wash and dry!
From what I’ve learned in my lifetime is that doing stuff you do not enjoy is just not worth it. If you know you hate academia then is investing more time and energy into something you don’t enjoy worth it? The only thing keeping me through this experience is I do enjoy what I am learning about. My issue is I suffer from anxiety. The stress I get from bad grades makes me feel like its not worth putting my mental health in harms way. I am currently still trying to figure out what’s best for me. No matter what I hear from anyone, I have to figure out what works in my best interest and if you’re struggling to make your mind up like me, know that you can listen to people’s advice and turn it away. Only you know what’s best for you!