Something that isn’t talked about enough, is how hard our late teenage years/early twenties are. Most of us leave school at 16, expecting to know what it is that we want to do with the rest of our lives. The reality, though, is that few people do know what they want to do at such a young age. It is this lack of self-awareness that, in my opinion, largely explains why so many more people are going to university these days than they did, say, 50 years ago. We are not more intelligent than we were in the past, we are, generally speaking, more confused. We’re confused about who we are, what we want to do with our lives, how we fit into the world, etc, etc. University now then is seen as a way to ‘bypass’, or at least ‘delay’ such confusion. It gives us an opportunity to feel like we are doing something, even if we don’t really know what that ‘something’ is. In other words, we attend university to postpone entering the ‘real’ world for a bit. Now, don’t get me wrong, for some people, their decision to attend university has been a long thought out one, a dream that they have had since they were a child, with it being a necessary step required for them to qualify into the job of their dreams (as is the case with doctors, vets, teachers, etc.) However, for other people, in fact, I would assume as is the case for the vast majority of university attendees, their decision to attend university is one based on nothing other than them not knowing what else they would do if they went against the norm and didn’t go to university. The reality, however, is that, with so many people going to university and getting degree level qualifications in the 21st century, such qualifications don’t count for all that much, and they certainly don’t count for as much compared to how they did in the past when going to university was seen as a very ‘exclusive’ thing, something reserved for the select few people fortunate enough to have been graced with, not only the intelligence levels needed to attend, but also the money needed to attend, too. Knowing this then, that university qualifications aren’t the ‘be all and end all’ as they were considered to be in the past, schools should encourage students to consider different options. In fact, potentially controversial opinion, but I think that it should be a requirement for all teenagers to have at least one year out of education after they leave school, to give them an opportunity to experience life and come to some sort of conclusion regarding what they want to spend the rest of their lives doing. I’m sure that doing this would prove to many many people that going to university is not a ‘must’, and that they can lead a successful and, more importantly happy life, without attending university.
The above is a topic that I write about from personal experience, having made the decision 3 years ago to go to university for no reason other than not believing that there was an alternative option available to me. Now, three years on, I have just (in the past few weeks) qualified with a degree in marketing communications and advertising, something which I am happy to have achieved, don’t get me wrong, but something which I undoubtedly don’t need based on what I now realise I want to do with my life. At the time though, I felt like I needed to go to university, and so I chose the first course that looked relatively ‘interesting’ and enrolled onto it. Looking back though, I wish that I’d have followed the advice that I’m giving on this post and took a year out to consider my options first. Had I done that, I think that I’d have ended up doing what I’m doing now anyway- working for myself– but I’d have ended up there having avoided being in massive debt. So, take it from someone whose been there, university isn’t ‘everything.’ It might qualify you for a job role, yes, but it won’t ever qualify your worth.