Why I didn’t go to University | Guest Post by Em Wells

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Happy Saturday, friends!

I hope you've had a great week.

Photo Credit: Madison Inouye

Some of you might remember that a couple months ago I ran a huge 'Student September' series, which featured some amazing guest posts and some really lovely sponsored content. I really just wanted to give something to the students of 2020, who have had so much taken away from them. However, I am more than well aware that university is not for everyone. I know a number of people who dropped out of uni because it had a seriously negative effect on their mental health, and there should be absolutely zero shame in that. So this Saturday, I want to honour those of you who did not (or will not) go to university, with a guest post written by the fabulous Emma Wells...

When you're in school, University seems to be the end goal and something everyone should be working towards. I am the only one of my friends who decided that University wasn't the way to go. I know that a few of them didn't agree with my choice, especially as I was going into an apprenticeship instead. Going against the guidance you've been given is a tough decision to make, but it's not one I regret. Here's why I decided not to go to university, and things you should consider if you're stuck on what to do! 

I finished secondary school in 2018. Strangely, I loved revising for the exams. I adored making mindmaps, buying pretty highlighters and sticking notes around my room, but a lot of that changed when I went to sixth-form. I started sixth-form in September 2018. Although I liked having the freedom, having 90 minute long lessons, commuting nearly 2 hours and the homework was just too much for me. By Christmas time, I was suffering from anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. I am NOT saying that sixth-form caused my eating disorder, I just am not good at handling pressure. 

Luckily, I was put into an ED clinic where I was treated and discharged around late March the following year. It meant that I missed a lot of lessons, specifically maths. I really struggled with maths lessons as it required a lot of practice and concentration, something you lack when you're thinking about calories. I was fortunate enough to enjoy my other two subjects, so the grades didn't drop.

brown wooden hand peace sign decoration on book

Photo Credit: Ella Jardim

You may be wondering how all of this lead up to the decision of not going to University. Well, I started to really hate school. I hated walking there as my knees were weak and hurt. I hated maths lessons, even more so when I was given extra to "catch up". I also hated inconsistent hours as each day started and ended at a different time. I am a creature of habit, I like having a routine. With sixth-from, I just couldn't find a routine, making my life feel out of control. I didn't want to go to university because:

  • My mental health was suffering due to pressure

  • I hated school

  • I don't like parties, preferring to cuddle with my boyfriend and watch a film over drinking 

  • I didn't have a subject I was really passionate about

  • I wanted to go out and earn some money rather than spend 4 more years of school

I have covered the first few topics, but let me explain the last three. When it comes to parties, I would normally turn them down. I like going out, but not when you're out until late. I'd much rather stay at home with family. Most of my friends will be located over an hour away for their universities. The people I love to surround me and I really like where I am location-wise. I wouldn't want to move away - as I mentioned, I'm a creature of habit and comfort! 

The last two reasons relate to each other really well. My favourite subject is business, and I managed to get an A in my A-level results (even though I'm part of the unlucky ones who has a grade given to them by a computer!). I didn't have anything else that I was passionate about. I couldn't allow myself 4 years to study business when I could put my skills into practice and earn money. That is why I chose an apprenticeship. I love finance and business, so I decided to do an accounting apprenticeship. It's at my dream firm with an amazing salary. It also means I can get my accounting qualification and experience without spending £20,000 and 4 years in university for the same thing. 

Going down the apprenticeship route isn't for everyone. It can be hard to jump into a job, but I am ready for a new challenge. I wanted to be making money so I could move out with my boyfriend. I wanted to go on holiday whenever I liked and have money to spend on what I wanted. It was a decision that not everyone agreed with, but I like to think of all the things I will be doing while they're in a lecture! It was clear from the start that further education wasn't for me. Even if I wasn't motivated by money and a job, my mental health was suffering. When you're not coping with something, it's best to come out of the situation before it gets worse. With my eating disorder, my organs were shutting down. If my parents hadn't noticed and phoned the doctor, I'm not sure if I'd still be here right now. 

Photo Credit: Ella Jardim

You may be wondering whether you should go to university. Although debt isn't a big factor (as most don't ever pay off their student debt), there are lots of other things to think about. Here are a few things that you should consider before you make your choice. 

What subject would you study and why?

It's great if you want to study music or philosophy is great, but you need to consider how you can use that subject after your graduate. I wanted to do accounting at uni, but it brings me no benefit but being exempt from a few accounting exams. I'll be 4 years behind those who didn't go to uni. You need to choose your subject carefully and think about its true benefit. You should also think about other routes for getting to your dream job. University may not be the only option. 

How is your mental health?

University requires a lot of independence and accountability. If you're not able to cope with pressure, time management or the extra work you're given, you may want to defer your place for a year. You won't be able to study and be the best student if you've got mental health issues. Those are more important and should be considered first! Self-care and your wellbeing is the first thing you should think about. 

What are your plans for the future?

Similar to my first point, you need to have a future plan. It's great if you're going to university to give yourself time to decide. But you're wasting time and money, especially if you don't go into that job. If you want a family and a big house, hustling in your early adulthood is important. I'm not saying you can't get rich from university, but some universities don't even let you get a job!

Are you prepared for the work? 

University isn't all fun and games. You need to be committed to your subject and willing to put in the effort to get your degree. You don't want to fail with all the time, money and effort you've poured into your education. Before you make your choice, think about how much you put into your A-levels. Will you be able to increase your output, or will you slack?

Do you really want to go to uni?

I felt pressured by my school to go to university. They gave little to no support for students who wanted an apprenticeship. You should be going to university for yourself and your career, not because people are pressuring you to. Remember why you're going and don't let anyone sway your decision, no matter what you choose!

Making a big decision like this is daunting. I don't feel bad about not going to university. If you don't think it's right for you, you shouldn't feel bad either. The way I see university is just like a different route to the same thing. There are some jobs you need university for, but there are lots of jobs that only want A-levels or GCSEs. Did you decide to go to university? Are you using your degree, or did you go a different route? I'd love to hear your further education stories!  

Photo Credit: Ella Jardim

About the Guest Writer!

Em is a UK blogger focusing on blogging, business & sustainability on her blog "Love, Em". With 4 years of experience in the blogging world, she is keen to share her knowledge. Emily is passionate about helping others, and since leaving college, has decided to put her passions in writing. You can find her over on social media!





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