If you don’t go to uni, you won’t get a job: a mantra that was drilled into everyone I went to school with. The last six months of college were a frenzy of applications, personal statements, and references. I remember I asked my very stern sociology lecturer for a reference and accidentally signed off with kisses and smiley faces. The email I got back said ‘Siân — x’s and “:)” won’t get you a better reference, but admirable effort, nonetheless.’
The words on everyone’s lips were UCAS, fees, finance, debt. It was like you were making a huge mistake if you did go to uni, but you were still making a mistake if you didn’t. Of course, these days, it feels like everyone’s got a degree. And they’re still not getting jobs. People do years at uni and drop out, or they finish uni and don’t land that dream position when they graduate. I see so many friends with degrees not doing anything with them, and you think, what was the point?
I’m a little while away from graduating, so I can’t tell you if uni is going to land me the job I want and get me to the places I want to be for sure because I’m not there yet. But, I can tell you, very honestly, that I’m a lot happier than I was before I started. I know when you finish college you’re sick of education, and I know if you’re coming from work it’s a big risk to take, but it’s worth it. I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve encouraged to come through clearing or apply for access courses so they can get on track for a better future.
Previous to being at uni I was working full time in a call centre, and while I don’t have any guarantees I won’t be back doing that again, I do know, 100%, that the opportunities available to me are infinitely better, and infinitely more, than they were before. I’ve got work experience now as well as academic skills, and at the end of all this I’ll have a qualification that opens doors for me. I’m happier, and more motivated, and I have plans for my future now.
Two years ago I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going. I felt like everything was getting away from me, and I needed direction. Qualification and skills aside, uni has given me different ways to look at things, better ways to communicate with people, a network of talented contacts and, most importantly for me, the chance to take a breath and really reflect on what I want. I’d say that’s worth the risk, the debt, the uncertainty.
Is uni worth it? Is it worth money, the hard work, the stress? For the chances it gives you, the people you’ll meet, the places you’ll go, the things you’ll learn, and the doors it opens, absolutely yes.
Am I still nervous about the future? Of course. But before uni, it was because I didn’t have an options. Now, it’s because I have plenty.