August is very often an odd time for 17-18 year olds. For many in the UK, it symbolises A-Level results and potential University places. This year has, in my opinion, been an absolute sh*t-show. I find it hard to express my disappoint and disgust in how the grading of A-Levels was initially dealt with this year; many have been left disappointed, and quite frankly betrayed.
Nonetheless, for lots of teens University is still on the horizon. Whether you’ve got your A-Level results, or you’re still in Sixth Form or College and deciding whether to complete that UCAS application, you’re most likely wondering whether University is for you or not.
Luckily for me, I knew from the moment I found out what University was that I wanted to go. I had a set path in my head and I knew what I was aiming for. However, after completing my first year, I felt that getting a job after Sixth Form was perhaps what I should have done instead. I was around half way through my degree at this point and decided to carry on anyway, which I’m so glad I did, but I feel like I’ve considered the pros and cons of Uni, and whether it was for me or not, quite extensively!
In this post, I’m going to discuss the different things to consider when deciding whether University is for you or not. At the end of the day, you’re the only person who can decide if Uni is the right choice for you, but hopefully these few topics will give you an idea of the things you should probably consider.
Please note that this post has been based off my own experience of University. Of course, it’s not the same for everyone.
Independence and Experience of Living Away from Parents
If you choose to go to a different University from your friends, or one quite far away from the place you grew up, the thought of becoming independent and having to fend for yourself can seem pretty scary. However, this independence is one of the best things about University. Living away from your parents can teach you how to cook for yourself, do your washing, pay bills, be responsible for your own transport and, crucially, form your own views and opinions and have the ability to speak for yourself. This is so valuable and something I don’t think I would have got in full without going to University.
Of course, you can still gain all of this knowledge and experience without going to University, but it’s often pretty hard for young people to move out independently. Also, living with your parents, although great for saving money, can sometimes (obviously not for everyone) be somewhat restrictive. However, there are a lot of different options, like working full time or travelling, that can teach you these skills too.
It’s so normal to worry about going to University if you’re not a particularly confident person. I wasn’t confident at all and although I wasn’t scared to move into my accommodation on the day (VERY unlike me and not sure why I wasn’t petrified!), the thought of having to speak to new people, navigate the library and go to lectures alone was terrifying. However, this feeling is so often short lived. Within a few days I was so used to plucking up the courage to start a conversation and my confidence grew within a week. By the end of my three year degree, I was a completely different person compared to who I was as an 18 year old Fresher – I had confidence in myself and my abilities that I’d never known before.
Even if you are a pretty confident person, Uni can be pretty scary at first! But for most people, it doesn’t take long to settle in.
The thought of leaving your friends to go to University can be so daunting when all you’ve known are your school pals but trust me, you’re more likely to make friends at University than not. There’s so many different people from all over the country, if not the world, and there’s people there for everyone. There’s so many groups or sports to join and you’ll likely find yourself chatting to everyone, especially in Fresher’s Week! Whether you make friends in your accommodation, on your course, on a night out or at a society gathering, I’m almost certain there will be someone you get on with!
Some friendships from home may fade, but some don’t. It’s definitely possible to maintain your old friendships whilst nurturing new ones too; just make sure to schedule in the odd FaceTime and try to meet up when you’re both home. I still have friends from both before and during University.
Relationships and University are often depicted as a danger zone. I personally went into University in a two year relationship and we muddled through long distance all the way through three years and are still together now. I’d love to write a post all about how to survive a long distance relationship if anyone is interested! It can be hard to leave your partner, or to send each other off to different Universities, but it is definitely possible to maintain a relationship regardless!
Having said that, some relationships do end because of University and quite honestly, that’s OK. It’s such a formative experience and sometimes people just don’t fit together anymore. And, the common phrase is that you find your future spouse at University! I recommend not overthinking it and just taking it as it comes, you never know what could happen.
For a lot of people, going to University is often the first experience of being away from their family for an extended period. If you’re not used to it, it can be pretty scary but for a lot of people, it can feel like the right time to get that little bit of distance.
However, if this is something you’re worrying about, regular FaceTime calls and visits home can be really reassuring, but I found just sticking it out helped me; I didn’t actually go home at all in my first year except for the holidays. That really helped me to settle in. However, choosing a University where getting home is quick and easy may be something to think about.
Of course, University does cost a lot of money and this is something you have to consider before going. I recommend considering things like the cost of accommodation, transport to campus, food, and bills and then pick a University accordingly. For example, maybe a campus with close accommodation would save on transport fees or going catered is a better option to save money on food. Also, part-time jobs are definitely an option to give you a bit of income and most Universities offer part-time positions on campus. I relied on a full time summer job to fund most of my food and bills throughout the year, as well as some help from my family.
I would say not to worry too much about the debt. In the UK, it’s designed to be manageable for most people. You don’t have to pay back your loans until you can afford to and even then, it’s not a huge portion of your wages anyway. It doesn’t even effect getting a mortgage anymore. University does put earning a full-time wage on hold for a while which is a downside to going, but the idea is you can potentially go into a higher-earning job once you’ve completed your degree – but be aware that this is definitely not the case for everyone.
It seems like a very obvious statement to make, but Uni can be stressful. This is definitely something to consider. I found my A-Levels somewhat stressful but the fact that a lot of teaching, work and motivation had to come from myself at University was quite a bit to take on at first.
For most people, this stress is manageable and comes in waves. I found that my University taught me how to deal with this in first year and gradually increased the workload so my stress level could cope, but this is not always the case. If you’re worried about this, I would recommend looking into the support Universities provide and take this into account when choosing. I struggled in my second year and had no idea what my University had to offer in terms of support. I wish I’d researched it beforehand. However, I can’t fault the University staff; my personal tutor helped me so much during this time.
Well, that’s a short list of a few things to consider when deciding if University is for you or not. From personal experience, I gained so much from University and I’m so glad I went. However, there’s also things I think I missed out on work and experience wise by going, but that I’m catching up on now. The grass always seems greener on the other side, doesn’t it?
Going to University or not is a big decision, and there’s a lot to consider, but I think more often or not, it’ll feel right if it is for you. I have to add, the main thing to remember is that you do not have to stick with whichever choice you make; you can attend Uni at any age so if you get a job and don’t like it, you can still go to University. Alternatively, if you get to University and you don’t like it, you’re not failing if you decide it’s not for you; you have to do what’s best for yourself.