And it’s not because I’m awful at making graphics. 🙂
There’s been non-stop talk of university for ages now, so I thought this post was just about due! You can’t really avoid talking about it when ‘where have you applied’ is the obvious question EVERYBODY asks. Me included, because y’know, most people my age are hoping to head off this year. It’s still exciting every time somebody posts on the group chat that they’ve had an offer or an interview, and it’s still interesting to find out where people want to scatter themselves about. Big changes and that. I’m literally the only one of my friends who doesn’t plan to go away to university though, which always seems to beg the question ‘why not?????’. I guess it’s seen as a rite of passage.
Just to clarify, I do still plan to start a degree in September, but through the Open University, so I’ll just skip the ‘moving away’ part. Which is apparently what most people look forward to. I’ll do my Maths/Physics degree through distance learning, from wherever I happen to be at the time. Home or elsewhere.
Everyone seems surprised by my decision, until I explain why, and then they agree that it totally makes sense. With the added plus sides of zero entry requirements and lower fees, which don’t hurt.
A few reasons for my decision:
— I can decide my own schedule rather than fitting a timetable. So excited for the flexibility! If I want to wake up at 6am and get it all done and have the afternoon to myself, then I can. If I want to spread out my term longer than a standard 10 weeks, I can. If an opportunity comes up and I want to pause my degree for a few months and come back to it, I can. Such freedom!
— Yes, I’ll miss out on some of the fun stuff, but I’ll miss out on some of the not-so-great parts too, so swings and roundabouts. I won’t have the group living situation away from home, but that’s not the end of the world. Not everybody gets on well with the people they find themselves living with, or enjoys the area they live in or whatever, do they? I’m in no rush to escape living at home with my family, which seems to be a push factor for loads of people. Yes I’m dying to travel the world and spend as much time in other places/countries as possible, but it’s still nice to have ‘home home’ to come back to, without the extortionate university accommodation prices either.
— ‘Degree time’ will be just that – study time without the faff of getting to places and whatnot. More time for other things.
— I haven’t made decisions based on finances at all, but I can’t help but question 9 grand a year for nowhere near as much contact time as we’re used to at college. Lots of learning is based on independent study anyway, which baffles me a bit when you’ve moved away to study AT a university then don’t actually have many hours per week when it’s necessary to be on site. Hmm.
— I can still go on nights out and get drunk and have fun like any other 18/19/20/21 year old. I’ll visit my friends at whichever universities they choose, just without tying myself to one place for another 3 years. I’ll flit around and try them all. 😀
— I’d rather not wait 3 years to then begin looking for ‘experience’. Ideally, I’ll have some kind of job during my degree – exactly what, I don’t yet know. My internship last year confirmed that I’d like to do something with engineering (looks like such a great industry to work in!) but I’d also like to try my hand at something with digital content/media too, so we’ll see. Would be ideal to get my foot in the door somewhere soon after finishing college. I’m impatient you see. 🙂 All I know is that A) I definitely want to be in a workplace, or several different workplaces, for the regular social interaction side of things and just for more exposure to different people, and B) I’ll want the money, obviously. Girl gotta have funds to live.
— More time for blogging. I’m sure any non full-time blogger will agree that fitting blogging around studying/working/living is the hardest part, when you can see a hundred and one things you’d like to do with your blog if only you could make it a higher priority. My degree will obviously be a really high priority too, but a flexible one at least, so I’ll have more time to explore my options.
— By narrowing down my subjects (I currently study A level maths, physics, history and textiles) I’ll be able to enjoy the others as hobbies more again. Textiles, mainly. Making my own clothes for the sake of it feels like badly spent sewing time when I have deadlines.
— I’m motivated enough to get on with work without somebody telling me to. I’m harshest on myself, tbh! Distance learning doesn’t mean you’re completely going it alone anyway – there’s loads of online support and day schools and tutorials and all that jazz. Lots of help. I often revise best on my lonesome anyway – I’m too talkative and get more done with only myself to talk to. Which I do – it helps, OK!
— I’ve always had an inkling that I’d end up taking an unconventional route, so here we go! I fully expect it to be ridiculously difficult and that I’ll want to quit sometimes, but that would probably happen whatever I choose.
Quick sidenote: I’m not against the idea of the university experience, I just don’t think it would be the wisest decision for me. Obviously going away to university is the absolute best choice for many people, and I’ve heard people say over and over again that the uni years were the best of their lives. A degree (in most cases) is worth it but you don’t have to go about it in the traditional way. I just wish the system wasn’t so pushy about which option is best for YOU.
When I wrote this post two years ago after attending a ‘prestigious universities’ conference with school, I thought I’d probably end up taking a gap year, but didn’t really have a clue beyond that. Few more decisions made now! I asked for your advice back then, and reading through the comments again now is really interesting.
Some particularly relevant snippets:
‘I went to uni because it was the done thing – there were no other options I could see, and even if there were they were never really explored’ – Naomi
‘If you have any kind of idea about the career path you want to follow, my main piece of advice would be to get some work experience in that field NOW. If you get it on your CV while you’re young, you can build up contacts and get more experience and when you’re my age you’ll have waaaaay more to show than anyone else! Also unis will love that :)’ – Naomi
‘Work experience will be more valuable than your degree’ – Kerry
‘So my biggest piece of advice is to give yourself permission to explore multiple options and paths and really get to know what you excel at but more importantly enjoy… Remember to seek out what intrigues and not just what is comfortable because ultimately you will enjoy doing that stuff for longer.’ – Jess
‘Just a little bit of advice from me for your future TRAVEL. TRAVEL. TRAVEL as much as you can. See the world and experience different cultures. Im sure this will inspire you. Yes also to continued studying but do take time out to fit in a bit of backpacking.’ – Janice
There were many other lovely, helpful comments, these were just the most relevant. So my question this time – what were your (education or otherwise) memories of ages 18-21?
lily kate x