25 June 2012

10 Reasons Why You Should Go To Uni


I am still coming to terms with the end of my university life while my little sister prepares to embark on her own university adventure this coming September. She will, unfortunately, be part of the first batch of students forced to pay £9000 a year in tuition fees. I was therefore a little shocked to find out that on top of these disgustingly high fees, that she had chosen to attend a London university, therefore increasing the additional debt that will be accumulated due to higher maintenance loans in order to accommodate for London's living expenses. 

Talking about her decision and if she had realised the extra debt she was getting herself into, it became quite apparent that she had not even thought about it. She then panicked about the money and about going to uni altogether. So I then found myself back tracking and telling her that she must go to uni because it was the best thing that I had ever done! Perhaps it is a good thing that she has approached it this way and just followed her heart in what she wants to do...

I'm sure that the majority of future applicants will be pondering whether or not it is worth racking up a £40000+ debt for 3 years of study. My answer? Yes, it is. If it were me having to do it all over again at £9000 a year, I would accept my place in a heart beat, pack my bags and be on my way. Here are my 10 reasons why:

1. 'Because I want to, because I want to,' (in the words of Billie Piper). There was nothing that I wanted more when I left college than to go to university. I wanted it so bad I would have cut off my right arm, re-attached it to my body then cut it off again, just to get my place. Nothing was going to stop me from going. I had no interest to travel, to work or save money (I'd saved everything I'd earned during College anyway...) I was going to uni and that was that. A round the world ticket would not have swayed my mind. If you really want to go, you should just go. 

2. It's exciting. A new city, a new subject (in my case at least, I had never touched Philosophy until entering the doors of Kent Uni),  a new home and new friends.

3. A new found independence, way of life and way of studying. It is all so different and you cannot know that difference until you experience it first hand. It is a great way to experience leaving home for the first time and living with other people who, hopefully, will become life long friends and really make for a great uni experience.

4. It's a confidence builder. I was so ridiculously shy when I went to uni, the idea of simply meeting new people, let alone living with them, made me feel sick to the pit of my stomach. I remember my first night alone at uni and I was certain that I would either vomit in front of my house mates or have a nervous break down, there and then. How you grow as a person at uni is amazing; the social skills that I learnt and the confidence boost that it gave me, I will be eternally thankful for. The person I was then is a shadow of my current self and it is such a relief to no longer have that anxiety hanging over my head.


5. Chances to travel. You don't just have to be studying a foreign language to spend a year or a semester abroad. My year in France was one of the toughest of my life, but it was also amazing at the same time. I got some great work experience, met yet more wonderful people and was able to make a final career decision on reflection of my time there. Living in another country for a prolonged period of time is an invaluable experience. If given the chance, you should grab it with both hands and run. 

6. Money isn't everything. There is no point in earning lots of money if you don't spend a little once in a while and enjoy yourself. I feel the same about my uni debt. Yes, it makes me want to weep sometimes when I think of its magnitude, but oh my, it was so worth it. You have to spend money to make money and uni is not too dissimilar. It is an investment in your future. Even if the fees had stayed the same for the next generation, the debt would have still been pretty overwhelming. Don't forget that. Forget the 'then and now' price comparisons and focus on what makes it worthwhile for you.

7. Work then study. If money is really holding you back from applying or accepting your offers, defer for a year and work to save some money. This could lessen your debts slightly if you're able to use your savings a little and not rely solely on the highest loan available to you. But, also remember that the interest you earn is extremely low, you only have to start repayments once you earn over a certain threshold and even then, it is only 9% of what you earn above that threshold. (A slight dent in your wage packet at most). 

8. Are you really ready to start your working life at 18? Okay, so not everybody goes to uni at 18, some do go later. But personally, I was just not anywhere near ready to leave education at 18. Heck, I'm 22 and the idea of mapping out a fully fledged career still scares the bejesus out of me! Are you ready to join Dolly Parton in her 9-5 or is there something about studying Music, English or Fashion that you are just not ready to let go of yet?

9. So many beautiful cities to choose from. I decided that I didn't want to study at a London based uni due to the extra debt it would give me. But thankfully, there are countless other amazing cities to study in. I think that this kind of consideration is even more important given the debt that will be accumulated through the new, higher tuition fees alone. London will always be there. It is top of my list, along with Brighton, of where I want to live once I finish my journalism course next year. But I want to do it when I start earning, not drown myself in more debt straight away when I can enjoy the beautiful city life any time I want to in the future. London will still be there when I can afford to make the move.

The college I taught at in France.

10. They will be the best years of your life! Seriously. I cannot gush over how brilliant the experience is. The amount of jealousy I feel towards current students is unhealthy. It's not for everybody and by no means a bad thing if you decide it's not for you, but for me, it was everything I hoped it would be. I'd recommend it to anyone.

What I would say to people umming and ahhing over uni is to make sure that you are 100% certain that you have chosen the right subject and, just as importantly, at the right university. Make sure that if you want to study in a particular city that your course is not based at one of their other campuses. It could lead to a great deal of disappointment and take away from the experience.

There is no shame in not going. And there is no shame in changing your mind. It is an awfully brave decision to realise that you have not made the right choice and decide to leave. But, a lot of careful consideration could lead to a very happy uni experience.

Would you still go to uni at the current rate? Are you planning to go in the future? Let me know what you think!

22 comments:

  1. great post! I've not really enjoyed my first year at uni, but I've learnt so so much, wouldn't change it for the world. I'm changing my course and start a new one in september, but I still value everything I learnt in my first year. I won't be paying the new fees as I'm undergoing an internal transfer, but I think I'd still be willing to pay them, its a invaluable experience :)

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  2. I'm moving to Florence in September for Fashion School! It's an american college and the fee's are absolutely ridiculous but I'll be doing what I love in what I think is the most beautiful city in the world so I'm sure it will be well worth it! :)
    Great post! My nerves are starting to settle after reading it!
    x

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    1. oh wow! that sounds amazing! moving abroad is super scary but once you settle i guarantee you'll have the most wonderful time, just dive in with everything you have to give and it will be incredible, good luck, Serena! x

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  3. I couldn't afford to go to uni and I didn't want to move away from home. Without there being a course I wanted to do at the local uni, I opted to do my degree through the Open University.
    This was definitely the best decision for me, I can work and earn money whilst studying at the same time. Also because my wages aren't high, I am entitled to help with my course fees... Which actually means I don't have to pay fees :). It's an alternative route when the degree is the most important thing, not the experience!

    Poppy x

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    1. this is a great response! i had not even considered this and i bet so many others aren't aware of it either. have you ever written about it? i think you should, would be very interesting to hear the full story! this is a great way to get the qualifications without the debt, i think you made an incredibly smart move, Poppy x

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    2. Thankyou, at the time I wasn't sure if it was the right decision as it is a longer route to take, also the experience of uni is a MASSIVE thing and it is something that OU can't provide... But i've never really felt like I missed out on it, I still went out lots with my school friends!

      I do plan on writing about it, but with the course fees in the UK changing I know the funding for OU is changing too. (although my pay scheme will stay the same as will all existing students)So i'll just need to do some research into it first. It should get done next month :) x

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  4. I have considered writing a post about this recently too and then not got round to it. To be completely honest with you I disagree!! I can totally see where you are coming from on most of these points, to be fair the experience is amazing but on the whole none of them are worth £40,000 debt. Every month, £500 or so comes out of your wages and it goes up as you earn more for years and years and years. I have since had a baby and work frellance and I honestly can never see myself paying my student loan off and it makes me feel sick.

    I do have a caveat to that when it comes to subjects such as medicine where someone has a vocation to be a physio/nurse/surgeon/GP etc where a lot of that is funded and you have a career as soon as you leave. I also think that courses that are truly vocational like law/science etc that have a natural progression to a job or design/fashion etc where it is an exttension of a complete passion and/or talent and a degree really means something then that could outweigh the money.

    However, if at 18 everyone is telling you to go to uni' and actually you have no idea what you want to do or be then I would everytime say to those people go and get some work experience, save up, travel/take a course that is less and see what you like and what you don't. You can go to uni' at anytime in your life. My mum went to uni' at 29 with four children under ten!!! and she is now a Physio' with two successful businesses.

    I was one of those people that went at 19 not really knowing what they wanted to do and it is a huge regret to me. If I could do it over then I would either not go at all or choose far more wisely what to do. So don't be pressured to go, don't feel like you HAVE to. Look around at people who's jobs/careers you like and talk to them about how they got there and what they would recommend, what do you actually need to get those jobs? is it a degree every time?!

    I have two more examples- my sister left school at 16 and did a course in London for a year that was £3,000 a term that she borrowed from my parents. Lots of people scoffed at this idea!! She now has an extremely well paid job in the city and has been promoted twice from working very hard, she's also paid them both back the loan.

    On the other hand, my husband works for a big FMCG company and is responsible for hiring new people for his team and he doesn't even consider applicants without a degree. HR filter out those CVs and only in exceptional circumstances will they employ non-graduates.

    You just need to be savvy about it. £9,000 a term plus all your living expenses is a bloody lot of money. Like a previous commenter said there are options out there- college/ your local uni/ Open Uni/Access courses later in life/ a job in the city that will pay your traiing (prime example is accountancy exams through a junior finance job in the city)

    Wow. This has got a bit long but honestly I wish I had put A LOT MORE THOUGHT in to my degree, I had a fantastic time but when that student loan statement leter drops through my letterbox I feel physically sick.

    If your gut feeling is to not go then go with that and work it out another way. You can always apply as a mature student or defer your place for a year.

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    1. i am SO glad that you have written a counter point of view to this and i really hope you get round to doing a proper post on it as i think it's an important and interesting subject. i felt as though i was pressured by a lot of people around me to do certain subjects at college and totally regret my decisions as i hated every second and did not reach my potential. that's why i was determined to do something that i loved and that i knew would give me good skills that employers would look for (a foreign language). i therefore completely agree with you about making sure that it is what you REALLY want to do and that it is the right course for you. Especially as the fees stand today, it has never been more important to think about what uni means.

      Poppy has raised a great point above about the open university route too. Also, my friend went to work for an accountancy firm post a-level for a year and a half but was just not ready for 9-5 work and realised that she really didn't want to be an accountant. she then left and went to university to study maths, despite having a great job at a firm who paid for all of her exams and training.

      I wish i had put more emphasis on your point about if you are not 1000% sure that uni is the right thing for you to take it slow and see what is out there for you. i think that there is so much unnecessary pressure to go to uni and people do not give enough credit or support to people who complete successful apprenticeships or find other routes into their careers. Luckily for me, i am totally satisfied with my uni experience, i know without any shadow of a doubt that it was the right thing for me to do; i guess maybe i was lucky in that my college choices were flawed, which made me wise up a bit about what i wanted from university and not the other way around. as i had no doubts about going into it i'm quite lucky that i don't regret it at all.

      i'm really grateful that you have taken the time to read my post and write such a detailed response, it makes it so worth while. i hope that people will read your comment as well and that it will help them in their decisions, especially as you have given so many alternative examples of successful stories. it must be so overwhelming if you are uncertain about going but being pressured into doing it, and i think that your comment will provide a much needed feeling of relief and support..x

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  5. WOAH! That is an essay. Apologies.

    just one more thing... of all my cohort the ones with the best jobs now are the ones who opted for placements- it gave them an edge- they had contacts and experience that others didn't. A lot went straight in to jobs at their placement employer so consider doing that year out if it is available to you.

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  6. I'm hoping to go to university next September, I've been looking around at Uni's and I have to say the fees has been a bit of an off-putter! Just the thought of thousands of pounds worth of debt, I vision myself living off Pot Noodles for the rest of my life, ha! But, this is such a great post, especially since I too am hoping to Journalism course too! Do you have any advice on what to look out for when it comes to Journalism courses, and do you know where is good to study Journalism? :) such an eye-opener to anyone even considering Uni!

    Hannah x

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    1. i am SO excited about my journalism course! my isn't a university course, i will not get a degree at the end of it. i looked into a few courses and decided upon doing a fast-track multimedia journalism course as i wanted to get into work pretty quickly post-university. this is the course that i am doing: http://www.journalistworks.co.uk/journalism-course.php

      it is in brighton (well, just outside of brighton) and lasts for 15 weeks, mon-fri, 9-5. it covers all aspects of journalism from short hand, to subbing to shooting and editing videos. what i loved about this course in particular is that it is in association with Brighton's local newspaper, The Argus. the classrooms are right above the newsroom which will allow for fantastic experience! from the very beginning i will be given stories to write for the paper, which i will research myself. if i am correct, i will have a small area of brighton/falmer to cover and write about. they have an online blog which will publish the best pieces of work as well. in addition to this, after the 15 weeks of study, i will complete a 3 week work experience with either local newspapers or magazines (i think it is very possible to find a mag/paper that suits the field of writing you want to go into afterwards), or if we have other contacts/ look else where, we can go further afield to other paper/mags/online.

      i considered doing a masters in journalism but they seemed to teach you ABOUT journalism not really HOW TO DO IT, which is what i wanted. this way i learn all the skills i want while building up a reputable portfolio and gaining work experience throughout the whole course.

      it is NCTJ approved and i would say that if you are looking to do a journo course make sure that it is NCTJ approved, otherwise you are wasting your money as employers want to see that. i hope that helps? feel free to ask me anything else, thank you for reading and commenting, i hope you find a course that you love :) i will be able to tell you more come september when i start! x

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    2. So interesting to read this as you know I have applied to something similar and currently keeping all body parts crossed for it!

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  7. Thank you for replying in such detail, I really appreciate it! The course sounds amazing, and if I'm honest such a relief! I've really been stressing over the kind of course to study, and I've looked into a lot of "cultural" courses which is more based on developing a critical mind and so on. But then I thought well, if I do that I won't have the necessary skills to be a journalist. But obviously with courses like this around then happy days. I've been worrying I should cram everything in to 3 years in the hope I'll get a job at the end of it but to be quite honest I think I'll take it slow go with my heart and probably follow up with a course like this for the practical side :) once again thank you SO much, you've been so helpful!

    Good luck with your course, and take care! x

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  8. I graduated last year and I still miss the student lifestyle! I am always pining for my days in the student house, waking up and slobbing out with my best friends, waaa! I agree about the confidence thing, I was so shy beforehand but now I feel so much more like myself, mainly due to the independence and being stuck there with no other option than to go for it!

    I do have to say that sometimes I think too much pressure is put on pushing people into uni, some people aren't cut out for it and way more attention should be given to those who are talented at manual work or who make excellent apprentices, at the end of the day my degree didn't get me a job straight away like all the promises you hear at school, and I spent a long time wondering if I had done the right thing and should have learnt a useful skill instead. That said, best three years of my life! xxxx

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  9. I am going into my second year of my course and I literally do not want it to ever end. I really have enjoyed it so much and yes would definitely recommend it to everyone I know, some people just are't up to carry on being in education but I do really think it is worth it!

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  10. I found this today and thought it made a nice addition to anyone browsing comments:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/a-reject-reports-im-glad-i-didnt-go-to-university-2340102.html?action=gallery&ino=8

    Successful people and their jobs and how they got them who didn't go to university.

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  11. Hey again,
    I got round to writing up why I think the OU is a good option:

    http://letsdrivefaraway.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/why-ou.html

    xxxxxx

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  13. Great post! I agree about getting to spend time abroad. I spend a semester in France and it was truly the best time of my life! I had so much fun and met such wonderful people. It really taught me to live each and every day. I actually cried when I had to come home xx

    OutsideBeautyInsideHealth

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  14. Hello! please can you let me know what your email address is so I can send you an email about the brighton bloggers meet up!
    PS, I didn't go to uni, as I couldnt decide what I wanted to do (pysch or drama) but am glad I didn't as I fell into my career by accident and I love it!

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