Do you have to go to University? What other options are out there?
I've been thinking a lot recently about how much pressure there was in my last two years of school, especially at this time in my last year, to get everything ready to go to University. It was time to nail that perfect personal statement (the one that makes you seem like the best student, with top grades, three hundred hobbies and you-know, not full of yourself), finalise my uni choices and knuckle down to get the grades I needed. And I mean NEEDED because failure meant that I'd fall into a pit with no future, right?!
It's really been bothering me that my school didn't tell me about any other options that were out there for me. I mean, I get it, they want to look good in league tables etc etc, but the only way I was getting any other options out of them was if I failed. Then they'd discuss them with me. But that's a little too late.
That sucks. University isn't for everyone and so many people feel pressured into moving away from home to study a subject because they've not been told what else the world has to offer. There's so many people out there who have left halfway through, or whose mental health has taken a turn for the worse because they don't enjoy it. And that's not meant to be a 'normal' part of uni. If you hate the lifestyle, and you just want to get out, then it's probably time to think about whether you really want to get this degree, or whether you did it because that's what was expected of you.
A lot of us didn't go to uni because of that, granted. The main factor is the whole 'getting a job' thang. I, and a whole bunch of my peers, were made to believe that going to uni = getting a degree = getting a job = earning good money = happiness. But things really don't go that smoothly. Did you know that only 60% of English Lit graduates are employed? And the top of the list for their employment sector is in bar and retail work? Yup (check out the Graduate Prospects website for info about this and other subjects *this isn't a weird #spon, just where I got my info from*).
As a lit graduate I was employed in bar work for the most of the first two years of my post-uni working life. After applying for what felt like hundreds of publishing jobs and not getting anywhere because I had no experience *rolls eyes* I got demoralised, gave up and went into bar work. Which I LOVE.
Going into bar work helped me build up so many interpersonal skills that uni hadn't ever drawn out of me. I learnt that I was good at talking to people and could hold my own in a dispute. My realisation that university hadn't *really* helped me that much came when a 20-year-old colleague of mine bought her first house. I mean, it's rare, but she'd avoided uni, worked a zillion hours, had a buttload of experience behind her and now a house to boot.
So, let's talk options. There are SO MANY things you can do if you don't want to go to uni. If your school/college is neglecting to tell you this it doesn't make the options any less valid.
Get an apprenticeship. They get such a bad name, but you can do a vocational course in a subject you love. You're learning and earning a little bit of cash on the side. Yes, the wages for apprentices are pretty dire, but they're a lot better than losing £9000 a year to learn. It's much less of a commitment to try out something you think you might like to learn.
Do an open university course. Ya see how I worded everything about 'going to university'? Sneaky, I know. An OU course gives you the opportunity to study part time from home whilst gaining experience working. The fees are a lot lower and you can do it wherever you want; you don't have to move away.
Go travelling. Aka the gap yah. I was warned off this because 'once you miss out on a year, you won't want to go to uni at all'. Which now seems like the most pointless reason because you've spent the year evaluating your life, moved away from pressure and realised that uni might not be for you? Save up during sixth form, see the sights and recognise exactly what you want from life. Maybe it's uni, maybe it's not. Let yourself have that time to work things out.
Journey into the working world. Although, yes, uni *can* help you along the way to better jobs, so can experience. Try out different jobs in different sectors until you find the one that works for you. Volunteering or doing short internships can help you realise what you enjoy/don't enjoy about certain jobs. There's always the option for study at a later date if you need it.
I know the list isn't the most expansive in the world, but it's something to work with (I hope). Just remember that university isn't the be all and end all. There are other options out there, and they might just work better for you.