Things I wish I’d been told before going to university

17 May

If any of you are in your last couple of years at school then the chances are that you’ve put some thought into university. Will you go, won’t you go? And if you do go, where will you go and what will you study? At my school we were made to feel like university was the only real option and that the decisions we were making would determine the rest of our lives. These are the things I wish someone had told me before I went:

1. You don’t have to go straight away.
If you don’t know what you want to do then it’s okay to take a year out. Take some time to think about it, maybe see if you can get some work experience in jobs you might be interested in. If you utterly screwed up your A-levels like a certain Yellow Bunting writer (ahem…) then you can take them again, you don’t have to settle for whatever terrible university will take you. One year (or two or three!) is nothing in the grand scheme of things, it’s worth it to make sure you’re making the right decision for yourself instead of rushing into something that’s all wrong.

2. You don’t have to go at all. Seriously.
When I was in year 11 we were told “if you don’t go to sixth form and get A-levels you’ll never get a good job”, in sixth form we were told “if you don’t go to university you’ll never get a decent job”. It’s not true. Yes, there are some jobs that require a degree but there are also plenty that don’t. If you know what you want to do then look at the ways of getting into it; do you need a degree or are there other routes? And if you don’t know what you want to do then go back to point 1!

3. It’s not that big a deal. Relax.
It’s pretty scary to think that the decisions you make as a 17 or 18 year old are going to determine the rest of your life. Don’t worry. They aren’t. Say you come out of uni with a degree in chemistry, you aren’t then doomed to be a chemist forevermore. There are graduate schemes for all sorts of careers that take applications from graduates in any subject. There are graduate entry degrees in things like medicine and law. And remember point 2; there are all sorts of jobs that don’t require a degree at all.

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

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