As I stepped off the bus after an exhausting day at an assessment centre, I heard someone calling my name.
It was a former tutee’s father and he began to discuss the current situation he was facing with his son. To uni, or not to uni.
He was of the opinion that going to university was not worth it for his son as he did not know which career path he wanted to work towards. The cost of university is far too high so doing so only makes sense if you have a clearly defined career path.
That was his opinion and I could understand where he was coming from. But I reminded him that by going to university, students can end up discovering themselves and that journey can lead to them deciding which path to take in their lives.
The problem however, is that this is not guaranteed and it is this element of risk coupled with the cost of university that makes people more reluctant towards university. People are beginning to realise that perhaps university isn’t the first and optimal option for their children. From a young age, students are taught the pinnacle of their lives will be when they get into a top university but the reality is that even graduating from a top university isn’t that stunning a milestone. The key milestone of a student’s educational journey is actually when they stop becoming a student. It is taking that first step onto the career ladder, in a position that they are genuinely interested in.
So what other options are there? Why was the father considering something other than university? Well in the UK, there has been an increase in the number of apprenticeships offered by businesses. Think of an apprenticeship and it probably conjures images of working in a garage or a similar type of job. However, the apprenticeships on offer are improving with each year. Consultancies, banks, ‘the Big 4’ and many other companies have begun to offer them and so students are beginning to realise that there are other options.
Of course competition for these apprenticeships is extremely fierce but the lucky few who secure them are able to dive straight into the world of work, earn a great wage for a 19 year old and skip the debt of a university degree.
Apprenticeships aren’t a magical solution but they are a great option. One issue is that you will have to be sure that you want to enter the field that you are applying to. The skills you learn will be tailored specifically to that area which is great, but not if you are unsure if you really want to continue in that field.
The father said he would encourage his son to apply for any apprenticeships that interest him but if that doesn’t work out then university is always the option.
I think that is the most sensible route a person could take in today’s world. As a university student myself, I know that many of the benefits that people proclaim about university is subjective. These are what you could term ‘soft benefits’ in the sense that they are not tamgible and depend on the person’s own actions whilst at university. If a student simply does their degree, then they probably would feel that they aren’t getting their money’s worth. If they get involved in societies and build upon their other skills, they may begin to feel that the benefits of university is quite great. It is this risk and uncertainty, that worries people and they rightly should be worried, especially when tuition fees in the UK look like they are going to rise even more.
What advice would you give if a young adult asked if they should go to university or not?
Until Next Time
A Worried Student