Rewind 7 years from today, and I was in the midst of finishing my A-levels. The end was in sight and sweet freedom felt so close. But in the back of my head, I was also already worrying about August rolling around and getting my results, for that all important decider, will I go to uni in September or not? I wanted to write a post exploring some of the the pros and cons of going to university to help you figure out the question that is on a lot of people’s lips nowadays with sky high tuition fees and living costs… is university really worth it?
At the tender age of 18, moving your life across the country and leaving the comforts of your family home for the first time is a huge moment in life, and I’m honest, when I made that move, I really underestimated it. The freedom of university is amazing and is an experience that I could not recommend more. I learnt more about myself in those 4 years than I had done throughout my entire school experience. Not to mention the friends I made that will most definitely be friends for life. But along with all the great aspects of the uni experience, it has to be said that there are a lot of negatives, which some people experience much more than others.
As I said, I really underestimated how much of a huge move going to uni would be, and how much everything in my life would change instantly as soon as I arrived in those halls of residence, when it suddenly all becomes very real. I personally suffered with being home sick to a really extreme extent for the first semester. Everyone is completely different, but my first few weeks were a serious challenge and I found myself in a really dark place mentally. I was super fortunate that I was lucky with my halls, and so as time went on and my friendships grew, things got easier and easier, to the point by Christmas where I felt I had really settled in. After this point I couldn’t have loved being away at uni more. I still went home fairly regularly, probably once a month, but I can honestly say I was happy at uni after semester one.
After the initial adjustments that take place in the first few months, your university courses really start to kick off, and if we’re honest, it mainly all only gets serious in second year, because at my uni, first year grades counted 0% towards your final degree mark, you just had to hit the 40% pass rate to carry on within the course. That might sound easy to some of you reading this if you’re in school still, 40%? That’s nothing right? But the difficulty of exams and acquiring marks is a huge step up from GCSE/A-Level, so again, that’s another thing to not underestimate.
I personally felt so lucky to love the course I was on, I studied for a BSc in Fashion and Textile Retailing at The University of Manchester. I couldn’t recommend Manchester more for the university experience, after all, I graduated 3 years ago now and I’m still here! For me, I know that for me, university was pretty much the only option for me to stand a chance getting a job working in clothing as a buyer or merchandiser, which I was set on in my head as my dream, career area. It’s such a competitive industry that not having a degree on your CV makes it 10x harder to get your foot in any doors. If you fancy reading more on how to get a job in fashion, I have written a whole other post here.
However so many people found themselves in a rut and not enjoying their lectures, and so many people even change courses in the first year. I guess you never really know if something is for you until you try it, and it’s definitely not a good idea to carry on working toward a degree that you hate and don’t want to use as a career, so changing while you can if you think that’s best, is definitely the best option sometimes. Despite your degree potentially not being relevant to your future job, it won’t go unnoticed, and does give you an edge on your CV, especially if you go to a Red Brick university, and will likely still help you get closer to your dream job even if your degree ends up being irrelevant.
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Above your course, the most valuable aspect of university is hands down the experience. And as much as I don’t want to be a dick and say that I ‘found myself’, I really did. As I mentioned at the start, I was a pretty scared and sheltered 18 year old who really underestimated the move, but it’s the best thing I ever did for myself. I am so much stronger and more independent than I think I ever could have been if I didn’t move away to university. As we all do, I thought I was already grown up and independent when I was at sixth form. I had a car, I earned my own money, but fast forward a year I had really grown into an actual adult.
Without university, I know full well I wouldn’t have the life I have today. My job, my friends, my apartment, my confidence, my independence. I don’t personally know anyone that regrets university, they’re course and their debt maybe, but going to university, is always beneficial beyond the learning.