Hi Friends :)
This is the first of one of these chatty/rambly posts... sorry if it's a long read but this time it's about university!
Going to University is a hard decision. Many young people don't even believe that it IS a decision. I know that when it came to considering university for myself, it was a question of which university I was going to, not whether I was going at all. By no means am I suggesting that you shouldn't attend university, I think it's an extremely valuable experience. However, when I was at school, I was very much under the illusion that if I didn't go to university I would be in rags begging on the streets by the time I was 21, which simply is not the case (thank goodness). My classmates and I faced the challenge of choosing a university with furrowed foreheads and fear in our eyes. This decision was the most important one in the world. Granted, it WAS a very important decision at the age of 17.
University life is rich in social and cultural experiences. It can help you further your career prospects and will open lots of doors for you... do I sound like your teacher yet? But NOT going to university can also be an amazing experience and open lots of doors for you. Personally, as I was coming to the end of my A Levels I was extremely passionate about school. I don't care if that makes me lame or a nerd but I LOVED school. I loved learning and exploring, discovering more and more about Art, Photography, Dance and Psychology (my A Level subjects). I was unsure what I specifically wanted to study, but I knew I loved studying. I was advised by a teacher of mine to take a gap year, relax, travel, work and then maybe I'll be more settled about what I want to do. She knew I was interested in art and suggested that I worked in the school art department for a term during my gap year to allow me to see what it's like WORKING in that industry, rather than simply studying in it. Oh my jeeze, I LOVED it. I then went to China to work with children and began to recognise that it was teaching that I was really passionate about. I was then offered a job as an art technician and carer (for the best kid in the world) and VOILA - that is where I am today!
Taking a gap year was one of the best experiences - I REALLY recommend it, even if you AREN'T unsure about university. There will never be a more convenient time in your life to travel, fail at something and try something new. My gap year was AMAZING. Although there's the slight hiccup to this story...what about a degree Lucy? You need a degree Lucy. I was introduced to the Open University. It's an online University which you receive a gazillion textbooks in the post for and have to have excessive amounts of discipline and motivation to teach yourself a university course. There are online tutors, forums, guidance, basically just a LOT of help to get you there. I am assessed twice a month (roughly) by 2,000 word essays, which is an overwhelming amount of work. Two essays a month may seem reasonable to you, but bang an 8.30 - 4.30 job on top of that and life starts to get quite hard. Then cater for a social life, cooking, cleaning, paying bills and life gets crazy. But I love my degree - I'd really recommend the Open University courses.
SO that was a long ramble, but I think it's really important for people to know that The Open University exists, online education is a THING and it's great! I haven't exactly picked the conventional route, but I've found a way around it and I'm enjoying a different kind of university. This way I get to have the job I ADORE (I'm pretty sure I have the best job ever) and get to study a subject I love!
Either way, try not to ease the pressure of the university application process, pick a place you love and NEVER decide to go because 'everyone else was' - thats a lot of money to waste on something you're not sincerely PASSIONATE about.
Love & Hugs,