Let’s face it, university isn’t right for everyone.
For many school and college leavers, higher education might seem like the obvious next step. But if you feel like the only one struggling to imagine life after your A levels, don’t panic. There’s still time to decide what you really want to do – you just need to consider all the options.
To help give you a little inspiration, here are few questions to ask yourself if you’re still wondering ‘should I go to university’:
What do you see yourself doing as a career?
First thing’s first: you need to actually start thinking about your future.
Sure, going to university as soon as you finish school might seem like the easiest option, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the right move for you. And, without knowing where you want to go in your career, it’s difficult to determine whether higher education will actually start paying dividends.
For certain careers, a degree will be considered an absolute necessity. For others, professional qualifications and experience might be more in demand. So figure out what you really want to be doing, and then find out what it takes to get there.
Because sometimes the best way to start is at the end…
Are you just following your friends?
All your friends are going to uni, so you are too. Seems legit.
However, although going with the crowd might work for some people, without having any solid career plans in place, you might end up picking something that doesn’t suit your skills.
And, if you really lack the passion for your chosen course, having your friends around on campus might not be enough to get you through all three years of studying. So think carefully about whether you really want to stay in education before making any rash decisions.
Remember: FOMO isn’t necessarily a good enough reason to go to university.
Have you considered all the options?
If you’re not sure what to do next, always consider alternatives before making your decision.
It might be that you want to start earning money right away, so going straight into full-time work is the best fit for you. Or you might want to learn while you earn, and taking on an apprenticeship to break into your chosen industry appeals to you most.
Other options include a gap year/working abroad, undertaking relevant professional qualifications (especially if you want to work in accountancy or tech, for example) and even distance learning or part-time degree options, if you’re still considering university but aren’t in a position to go full-time.
Consider every opportunity available to you – and you’ll ensure you make a more informed decision.
Have you considered cost?
Unfortunately, university education does come at a cost.
With current tuition fees around £9000 per year (before factoring in any additional living costs), you might not want to start building up debt if your heart isn’t really in what you’re studying.
However, always bear in mind that, in the short term, the repayments are manageable and fairly small. And you won’t even start paying money back till you earn over a certain amount.
And with graduates estimated to earn up to £250,000 more over the course of their lifetime than someone with A-levels but no degree, factoring potential earnings in before making your decision could also help turn your time at uni into a long-term investment.
Do you want to keep learning?
Finally, it’s time to be honest.
Having a degree will undoubtedly help improve your chances of progressing in your career, enable you to earn more money, and build your expertise.
You’ll also learn essential life skills, have excellent experiences and add real value to your CV (even if your chosen career path doesn’t see a degree as a prerequisite). But, to get the most out of your experience, you’ll need to actually put the work in too.
Aside from the freedom, independence and nights out, there will be hours of lectures, library evenings and late night study sessions. So always be realistic about where you see your strengths.
If you weren’t really a fan of education, university might not be right for you. But if you’re someone that loves learning, and you’re really interested in learning more about your chosen subject, then you’ll have nothing to worry about.
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