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Are there benefits to not attending a university?

Is the cost and effort of uni worth it?

Current issuesFriends and relationships
By VoiceBox ·

Isabella (not her real name)

A young content creator from the UK.

Do I regret my decision to not go to uni?

University - is it a prestigious route to further your education and benefit from the realm of extra curricular activities available, or is it a £30,000 entry ticket to the most hedonistic 3 year party of the decade?

In my last year of school, I made the (at the time) more controversial decision not to go to University. On reflection, I am able to hold my head high and declare that Uni just simply wasn’t the avenue I wished to take. Sometimes I feel myself saying it with such certainty that perhaps I’m not only trying to convince the crowd, but myself as well. In reality, the reason I didn’t go forward and join the applicant surge was because I didn’t know where to begin. We were fortunate enough to be provided with a few open-days and talks with past students who came to promote various courses and institutions, but I simply didn’t have any interest. I had no subject that enthused me at the time and no footsteps to follow in, with neither of my parents attending uni and being the eldest of my siblings. 

At the time, I saw University as a pile of admin to get through on top of everything other deadlines handed to us. The Personal Statement was something that would hang over you as it was edited by various members of staff throughout the school and returned with red marks and the promise of edits which would make one seem more deserving of a place. I recall a rumour of the student who wrote their Personal Statement through the eyes of a fox, this apparently had universities eating out of her paws. A fox!? How was I meant to channel my attributes through the eyes of a glorified dog? And then came UCAS, this spreadsheet-like software was simply too much, so I decided that the best way to shed the workload was not to take it on in the first place. In hindsight, this wasn’t my wisest choice. My adversity to the idea of University brought many questions from peers and teachers. My stockpile responses; “I’m just keen to enter the workplace” or “Why would I spend money on a course I have no interest in?”. At the time these were just excuses, yet astoundingly now I see sense and truth in what I was claiming.

When I think back to my most prevalent excuse/reason; “Why would I spend money on a course I have no interest in?”, I am met with a few various thoughts. Initially this is a valid point, totally justifiable. It seems like quite an expensive few years to embark on if I’m not interested in what I am learning. I will also mention that I sometimes do feel smug when I am not paying off the debt that others are in. Yet, this is a fairly surface level thought. There are so many options provided and we are so fortunate to live in a country where there is so much opportunity to further our education in such a plethora of subjects. Perhaps I was naive and somewhat lazy, maybe I could have spent more time exploring what was on offer and maybe even have taken a risk, throwing myself into a course unknown to me at the time.

University is an unbelievable opportunity to further one’s education and to delve deeper into a chosen subject, with less boundaries and more exploration. At the same time, to a large percentage of young people, it is a lawless breeding ground for fun and experimentation. It is where independence is unearthed, where new social situations and groups of friends are unveiled. This is the part of University that I was nervous to miss out on. The first two weeks were a challenge; Fresher’s Week (for my uni attending friends). My best friends were all throwing themselves into their hall’s communal drinking areas and making 3 new BFF’s in per night! The snapchat stories akin to a nightly 20 part series, the facebook friends multiplying exponentially daily. What had I done! Not only are the rumours true and University is the pinnacle of fun, but my friends all have new, better friends! Devastating. Sure enough, Fresher’s Week passes and maybe of the 30 new BFF’s made in the smoking area, 5 are valid to persevere with. My friends surface and make contact once again. I sound bitter, I’m sure most people will have had a real ball in those first few weeks. The nightlife continues to thrive throughout the next few years. Club nights segway over time into infamous house parties and the summertime day festivals. Although this was the hardest part to miss out on, I managed to grab a few invites to these events and wangled the occasional weekend existing as a (fake) student! Sometimes I even count myself lucky, due to being the nomad friend, I was able to cross off a few of the major UK cities as the ultimate part-time student, or more realistically, the one-weekend-every-two-months student.

The previous paragraphs may have left a note of uncertainty in the reader’s head. Am I pleased not to have gone to University or have I taken a somewhat sour approach towards the topic, displaying an undertone of resentment towards the decision of the 18 year old me? To be honest, it is a mixture of the two. Now I find myself working a job that I love and soon about to embark on a three year diploma in my chosen field. Would I have found this if I had spent the three first years at Uni? Then again, maybe Uni would have helped me find something equally as enjoyable. I will always have a slight feeling that I missed out a little on an irreplaceable time where young adults are allowed free reign. All living together in an environment with no inhibitions and not too much responsibility, squeezing in three years of fun youth with room for error. This time is also important.

My friends are now four years out of University and I feel the playing fields have all been levelled. We are living with old friends and new. Mixing and meeting each other's friends. Although at the time Uni seemed like the biggest make or break decision of my life, I am now at ease with my decision and it has seemed to have worked out for the best!

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