Should I Go To University/College?
"The University Experience" is often reminisced as the best days, the funnest times and the place where life's important relationships are formed. Some say it's all about learning to live by yourself, come out of your shell and take charge of your life in a way that isn't possible at home with your parents looming over you. Despite the mistakes you inevitably make along the way, university is generally believed to make you grow up and experience the world in a different and often beautiful way.
So what exactly is the university experience? Well usually:
- Making fast and precious friends
- Drinking, lots, and regretting it
- Spending money you don't have an regretting it
- Finding out who you really are away from the constraints of parents
- Experiencing real independent living
- Growing familiar with a whole new region
- Studying things you genuinely enjoy
-Eating awful cheap food and late-night pizzas
- Generally having a laugh
All of these are assumptions of course and the student experience varies for each individual and place. Depending on what kind of experience you want, it is also worth thoroughly researching which place you want to go to; for instance, if you apply for Oxford or Harvard, expect a whole lot of working. The famed university/college experience is often cited as something not to be missed. But as ever, there are other factors.
What Part Of University/College Appeals To You Most?
Student Debt in America
But is it really enough to just enjoy the student lifestyle? Is it worth all of that money to just make a few more friends? For most people, university or college needs a bigger selling point than just the antics and drinking. In the UK, university goers have been daunted by the cost of studying, and the cost of living worldwide makes going to study more than just a laughing matter. The debt that students will be shouldered with, especially in the current suffering job market may make it unreasonable to go to uni simply for the kicks.
You may need to weigh up the length of time this debt will take to pay off compared with, let's face it, a bloody good time.
Student living is not all drinking and clothes and friends; there are piles of expensive books, butter, milk, water bills, and other tedious things that you feel grudged to pay for. Often on campus you hear that people are choosing between clothes and alcohol, and food. It is not easy living. And money hangs over the head of every student.
Student Views on Debt in the UK
While these aspects of university are important, a significant, if less exciting part of university, is the job you are going to get afterwards. It is all training for that one career, in a very competitive job market. Saddled with that amount of debt and the large amount of work that comes with any degree, it is important to know where you are going with it or how you will support yourself once the fun is over. Many students find themselves after university or college at a loss as to what to do now. Friends move on and people start careers and it can be a very depressing thing not to have that end in sight and that motivator.
It is obviously not necessary to have a career in sight, but I do think there needs to be a certain passion for what you are doing or what you will become. It is a scary place to be otherwise.
I myself am studying English, an apparently useless and unemployable degree, but I couldn't see myself doing anything else. In this case, I have no specific job in line, but my love of what I do will make it worthwhile.
Others simply take a course because they think it'll be fun and easy and give them an excuse to experience university or college. I do not advise this; many such people have a crisis of confidence and simply drop out. Love what you do and be unapologetic. At it's core university means work, and that work is demoralising if it's simply an excuse and a time-waster.
For some it's an adventure and for others it's a nightmare. It's important to review what kind of person you really are and if you can deal with the long separations that university means from your friends and parents. Ask yourself where you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years. Do you want to be away from where you grow up? Does the career you see yourself in demand a degree? Many people are comfortable living in the same town for a life time and some can't stand the idea.
Remember that there are many alternatives to the university/college experience, such as internships and so on; experience can be just as useful as degrees. Many people love their time at university, some hate it. It's the same as staying at home. Just ensure you know what you want from life and what is important to you personally before you make this huge decision.