During the period of time when you’re studying for your GCSE’s and A-Levels, there’s a lot of pressure from parents, teachers and even friends that you should go to university. University is a great place to expand your mind, learn new things and meet new people. But, going to university is not for everybody. There are other options available to you when you leave school such as apprenticeships, starting your own business or jumping straight in and getting a job!
In the end, no one can tell you whether you should go to University or not, it’s a decision that you have to make for yourself. But, I’ve put together a few questions that may help you make your final decision.
#1 – What is my end goal?
Before you decide to go (or not go) to university, you should have a rough idea in your head about what your end goal is. This includes knowing what subjects you really enjoy, what industry you could see yourself working in or even what job you could see yourself having.
Certain career paths require you to have a degree, whereas other do not. It’s important that you research into the career or job that you’re working towards before you make the decision of whether or not to go to university. Good places to research this information include career books, job descriptions and talking to professionals or teachers that have experience in the particular industry you are interested in.
However, if you’re not sure about what your end goal is, that’s okay too. Very few people know exactly what they want to do when they’re in their teens, or even in their twenties! The most important thing is that you ask yourself what you enjoy doing and what you’re talented in and then go from there. If you are really struggling with this, talk to a teacher, family member or career advisor to get their help.
#2 – Is there a subject that I really love and want to explore?
Unlike school or college, when you go to university you have to decide on one (or sometimes two) subjects that you want to study for 3+ years. So, it’s really important that, if you do decide to go to university, you choose a subject that you really enjoy that will hold your interest for the duration of the course. Remember, university study is a lot more independent, so you will need to be able to motivate yourself to study, complete assignments and do your coursework, which is a lot easier when you love the subject you’re studying.
Sometimes, if you have a career goal in mind, you may have to study topics that you don’t absolutely love. But if you know that studying that particular subject will get you to your dream job or career path, that can be enough to keep you motivated as well.
#3 – What are the alternatives?
If you aren’t sure whether you should go to university or not, you should look into what the alternatives are. At school, the idea of going to university is really pushed upon us, but there are other ways to reach your overall goals. Some of the alternatives available include apprenticeships, taking a gap year, starting your own business or getting a job. Research into all the alternatives available and think about which is the most suitable for you and your goals.
#4 – Do I need a degree?
Again, it’s important to consider your career goals. Not all careers require you to have a degree, some may prefer apprenticeships and other may offer entry level jobs for applicants straight out of school. It’s all about research!
#5 – Can I afford to go to university?
University has become a lot more expensive in recent years which sucks 👎, so it’s important that you consider the financial side of going to university. Research into how much your preferred universities are charging and how the student loan system works. Have a look at
As well as looking into the costs of the course and accommodation, think about the other costs of living that you incur as a student like food, utility bills, course materials etc. The maintenance loan that is offered to you by student finance often doesn’t cover everything that you need to pay for as a student, so you’ll need to have some savings, get a job and/or have parents that are willing to help you out financially.
However, if you really do want to go to university, don’t let money get in the way. There are services and support available if you look for it, so make sure you do your research. Contact your local council or your chosen universities to see if they can offer any financial help. You may also be able to make savings by living at home whilst studying if that’s suitable for you, or you could take a gap year and get a job to save up some money that you can put towards your university fund.
I hope these questions have helped you think about whether going to university is the right option for you. Remember that this is a decision that you have to make for you, and there are no right or wrong answers. Just think about what you will be happiest doing, and what will bring you closer to your personal goals.
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