This is a bit of a long one but I have tried to include some fun GIFs 🙂
This is another post where I have read something online and it has sparked an idea for a post! I was reading about David Cameron and Nigel Farage and their differing opinions on university degrees and it occurred to me that people don’t always know what they are getting themselves into when applying for university. There are a few different groups or situations you could “blame” for the reason why many students seem to stumble through their degree and then end up disenchanted when they don’t have a grad job lined up.
School is the problem
Generally I feel as though Schools are still stuck in the Tony Blair phase of pushing everyone through ALL OF THE SCHOOL and then ALL OF THE UNI! But it doesn’t really work to students advantage. I know that when I started my A levels I didn’t really have uni in mind. Pretty soon it seemed that uni was the only option available and that’s where all the support was from the School – for uni applications.
My siblings went through the same School as me and it’s interesting to hear that things haven’t really changed. One example I would draw on was when one student decided to go the non-uni route into accounting and she was told that there was load of info the School was sent that wasn’t passed on for people who didn’t want to go to uni “oh you should have said you wanted to do that, I get loads of emails about it!” (well yeah thanks I have something now). The assumption was that all of them would go to uni. What’s more is when the same student had to tell the School she was withdrawing her application they actively discouraged her choice. They didn’t applaud or admire her independence or use of initiative. They just told her she was wasting her good grades. Schools are too preoccupied with their league tables and their local newspaper reports. I notice that over the past few years that the same School hasn’t had as many Oxbridge people to brag about, their ofsted inspection didn’t go so well either… wonder why.
Schools spoon feed and push people into uni and don’t give them much of a sense of what it actually entails. It’s just “go to uni or you’re wasting your life”
Uni is the problem
So I have written about whether uni prepares you for work before so take a look at that but I genuinely think that uni is what you make it. You need to make the most of any and all opportunities to build on your work experience. But if the opportunities aren’t there or if you don’t utilise them then it can be easy to use the uni as an excuse for why you haven’t got all that you can from a degree. Also university itself is a bubble! It is completely different to life after it, is there anything they can do to help you in your transition to being a graduate, alumni and a proper adult human being??
“The system” is the problem
So you do your degree, you get a good mark, maybe you manage to do some extra-curricular stuff. But when you leave there aren’t enough jobs! There are countless graduate blogs and I know lots of people who just haven’t known what to do with their lives after uni. And there are countless theories on why there “aren’t enough jobs”,”aren’t the right jobs” or why grads are still living at home! Shouldn’t the government be doing something about this?! Take matters into your own hands and make your own way – don’t depend on anyone and don’t expect a job to come to you.
What about Social Mobility schemes? Uni isn’t accessible to everyone!
I think social mobility is great. I don’t think people who are wealthy or from private School backgrounds should have advantage over degree places or graduate jobs and often I don’t think they are necessarily the best people to have top paid jobs either. I think work done by the Social Mobility Foundation and other such institutions is great and the fact they give people access to higher education when they wouldn’t usually have it is really good. I think they help people properly consider whether uni is for them.
I have also done work at our uni to help people from “non-traditional” backgrounds have access to the kind of information or study they may go through if they choose to go to uni. HOWEVER there is a slight problem with all of this. I don’t think everyone should go to uni, I think School’s push people towards it but not everyone is cut out for it. I am not suggesting people from non-traditional backgrounds shouldn’t consider or try it but the more people you push in the system the more help and support they need. And that’s not to say that help and support isn’t there, because it is. But not everyone knows how to access it and with growing student numbers it’s harder to support them all equally.
With all of this in mind… I decided I would try to bust some myths about uni
Uni myth busting
Myth 1: If your sixth form or college tell you to go to uni – you should do it.
NOPE! Make your own decision based on a well thought out pros and cons list. Don’t assume it is your only option and only hope of having a job. It’s not. Look at alternatives and don’t be pressured by people who “know best”. Also don’t let them tell you that you need to go now or you won’t have the chance later – every heard of mature students?
Myth 2 First year is easy and your whole degree is basically a party.
OK so first year is meant to make sure that people from varying A level background all reach the right level of attainment to progress. It’s not “easy” or “a doss” but a lot of people don’t realise until later on that first year is the time where you probably have the most free time. Utilise that to nail your assignments and exams, you could come to count on some of those marks or hard work further down the line. As for uni basically being a party – well it can be. Some people can deal with that level of socialising and can get work done (jealous) others can’t. It’s all about getting your own balance.
Myth 3 University is harder than School
I wouldn’t say it’s harder – it’s just different. It’s a new style of studying. You won’t have anyone kicking you up the bum to do the work. It’s all on you and you are the one who has the power to make or break your degree. If you decide the burn the candle at both ends or waste your time or not go to lectures and classes you may find things difficult. Make sure you ask questions at open or visit days especially of the students. What is it like in a lecture? What is a seminar? Do I have to read all of the books?
Myth 4 If you have straight A’s or A*’s at A level you will succeed, flourish and be amazing at uni equally if you’re not academically strong you will flounder and fail
You can’t make assumptions or sweeping statements like that. I know people who were amazing at School but academically at uni just didn’t take to it… you don’t have to be an absolute brain box on paper to excel at uni.
Myth 5 A degree = job. You won’t need to do anything additional outside your degree to help yourself get employment.
Good luck with that mind set.
So do I think my degree was worth it?
That’s probably something I should address after all of this. I studied Sociology before the introduction of £9,000 fees…
Yes: Because without it I wouldn’t have my job now. I wouldn’t have been exposed to lots of different social groups, people from other cultures, I wouldn’t have been able to develop my passion for politics. I wouldn’t be the person I am now. I would accept things on face value and generally be more gullible and naive had I not come to uni. The experiences I had at uni are what make me good at my job now. I use aspects of my degree almost every day.
No: I sort of feel duped. I did my degree so I could go into teaching and now tuition fees are too high and there isn’t an easy earn and learn pathway into teaching. So I haven’t actually got out of it what I had intended but I think it is important to be flexible and to be able to accept that you may start your degree thinking you’ll do one thing but end it with another spin on things. Always have a plan B