Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Pros and Cons of Going to University


I remember the summer of my last year of school was inundated with constant questions from friends and family asking what I was going to be doing the following year - whether I'd be going to university, going out into the real world, or maybe taking a gap year. It's a daunting time when you're suddenly forced to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, when just months ago you weren't allowed to go to the toilet unless given permission by an adult. And now you're supposed to be the adult? The education system baffles me.

I'm fortunate in the fact that I always knew that I wanted to go to university. That was my real chance to get away from my small town and start afresh with people of a similar mentality to my own, who actually wanted to learn just like I did. Unfortunately, not everybody has that same feeling of knowing what to do once school is over.

There were countless people in my school year who didn't know what was going to happen the following year, so they would apply to university or college because they thought that was their only option, and if they didn't get in they were stuck in limbo - or if they did get in, they were studying something that they really didn't want to be doing and so they would drop out.

Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life, and I detest when someone asks me what my next step is going to be. Because in reality, I have no clue. I chose to go to university because I love to learn things and I really wanted the experience of going, because I just knew that's where I belonged. (it's corny, but seriously, I spent so long at school wishing I was at uni instead) That doesn't mean that I'll end up in a job using my degree afterwards (or get a job at all for that matter, but who is guaranteed a job these days?!), but that's four years away. Can we not just focus on the fact that I'm at uni and I'm loving it, than stress about what's going to happen years from now? 

In many ways, university prolongs the decision making that everybody wants you to do when you're 18 and clueless. It brings a whole new level of uncertainty to your future, but it also brings a vast array of possibilities. University is not just about studying; it is a platform to meet new people from all walks of life, immerse yourself in activities and issues that were not accessible for you at school, and you learn more about yourself in the process. Without getting too philosophical, I found that in my first year of university I figured out how to be a slightly more functioning human being, while developing my own thoughts on issues that concerned me rather than basing my judgements on what my parents or my friends thought. Yes, you can do that anywhere, but being in an intellectually stimulating environment really helped me to see things in a different light.

On the other hand, however, university can also be isolating in a way. I find that when I spend time at home, I'm living a completely separate life because the people that I share my university life with aren't around me, so I can't talk to anyone about that funny lecturer or the comedy show we saw the other night etc. It's not a criticism to the people around me, it's just how it is. They don't get it, just like I don't get what's going on in their lives while I'm away. We each have our separate bubbles, and while that can be tough to deal with, it can also strengthen relationships because you then form your own bubble between one another. 

So while there are definitely ups and downs to going to university, I ultimately know that I made the right decision in going. My advice to anybody still on the fence about whether to consider going or not would be: think about if you decide not to go - will you be thinking years from now 'oh what if I'd just gone and done it anyways, maybe my life would be so much better' or will you be thinking 'I'm so glad I didn't go because my life has worked out exactly how I wanted'? At the end of the day, you've got to do what's best for you and be happy with that decision. If that means university, then do what you can to get to that stage. If that means taking some time out to earn some money or travel, then go for that. Don't let anybody deter you from your path - you will find your way in the end.

Speak soon!

Chloe x