Wednesday, 22 August 2012

By Degree?


Upon completing (somehow!) my A-level studies in the Summer of 2010 I made the decision not to go to university. It was a decision that took quite a bit of soul-searching, a few heated discussions and was met with more than a few quirked eyebrows, but, for me, it was the right decision and one I (think I) stand by to this day.

There were numerous reasons behind my eventual decision none more important than the fact that I quite simply did not really feel the desire to go. I had no burning degree ambition. I had no desperation to further study a subject and perhaps most importantly my heart was never in it.
It seemed wrong, to me, when so many were desperate for a place on a course and a path to 'steal' such a desired spot as a result of little more than achieving a certain amount of UCAS points. In addition, the idea of another three years of academia practically gave me a migraine.

Two years down the line having worked from a voluntary position up to a secure full time 'big girl' job I can say that it paid off for me. Many times over the last two years I've wondered if I'd have been better furthering my education instead of stomping along the same sodden streets at 8:20 every morning to a job with no pay and the question mark of 'what am I going to do nowww' hanging over me. 

However, whilst with two years experience behind me, a high level qualification certificate firmly stored in a safe place (read : I dont quite remember but it's in my house somewhere) and the thought of assiting with a brand new class of bright eyed seven year olds full time come the 4th of September, I do feel content, I've also got that little voice whispering in my ear 'what if?'

You know the one. The one that seems to sneak up on you when you're having a quiet five minutes, usually when you're painting your nails or completing some other task that could really do with your full attention you know? It sneaks up on you and kind of punches you in the face and you mope around a bit for a day or two like 'what does this mean?!' (With lots of dramatic sighing) I'm happy I didn't go to university, I'm happy I didn't plonk myself in a course that I wasn't fully committed to and commit to three years I didn't really want. Hearing my friends though, with their fantastic achievements and their hilarious experiences I can't help but wonder if I'm missing out.

I set on this journey to feel like an 'adult' to pay my own way and simply to work. Now work is what I do and whilst I love it with every fibre of me most of the time (minus 11am on a Wednesday when the kids can't do their maths work and don't want to know how to do their maths work and etc etc etc) I feel a little like maybe I missed the chance to really go crazy and enjoy my adolescence.

I'm pretty sure from what I've gleaned from twitter, from conversations and from (gasp) real life people ; this is a common way to feel. And yet, I'm still not sure how to proceed. Do I merely accept that I've chosen this path, that I'm only really looking at student life in a romanticised way. Or, do I throw caution to the wind and look into my other options?

Within the next two years I aim to begin a part-time degree alongside working fulltime. I'm hoping that whilst I wont get the nightlife (not that I'm that much of a night person anyway - god knows I fall asleep on my favourites enough!) I might get a little taste of what it is I feel I'm lacking right now. A degree, as it were, is necessary for the path I want to follow - to having my own little class one day instead of assisting with one. 

Perhaps I'm making up problems in my own mind, lord knows it wouldn't be the first time, but have you ever felt like this? Did you go to university or did you not and how, if so or if not, did you make this decision?

As always I'm incredibly intrigued into your insights.

13 comments:

Joseph Kent said...

Degrees are saturated - nearly everyone studies for one, and unsurprisingly, many careers require one. But it does depend on the course. I'm studying BA Multimedia Journalism, which is very vocational, therefore I gain tonnes of experience, transferable skills and and external qualifications alongside my degree. My lecturers have even said that at the end of the course, the actual degree will be the last thing employers will look at. I suppose, however, that a lot of people go to university purely for the experience, which isn't all that bad.

Rachel - Notes from my closet said...

I was always better at Artistic subjects at school and although I could have gone to uni I just didn't want to and don't regret not going one little bit! I love doing what I do and uni wouldn't have helped that at all. Just think, you wouldn't be where you are now if you had gone to uni. And uni doesn't guarantee a job at the end of it :) You have worked hard to get where you are and you should be proud :)

Love, Rachel

Sarah Madden said...

Joseph - I think if I were to do a degree it would be something similar to what you're doing (although the subject would more than likely differ) I think the fact you will gain such a wide variety of knowledge/experience from the degree takes it to the next level if you know what I meen? It sounds like an exciting course to be doing and perhaps if I were to go back and 'have my time again' I'd be tempted by something similar. I completely agree that a degree tends to be one of the last things employers look at - at both the jobs I've had before this one (office based) they stressed this when applications were considered. It's such an interesting debate though and one that affects so many of us. Thanks so much for your insight.

x_Jen_x said...

I left school at 15 with no qualifications and no dreams of ever going to uni. It wasn't for me, I felt it was for high achievers and at this point I wasn't. I left school because I was bullied, and left to get away from the girls who tormented me. I started college where I didn't need any qualifications and worked my way up to the point where I am a fully qualified nursery nurse. I have made the decision to go to university as I feel it's the next step for me and sorta because I want to prove people wrong that I am able to do it, when I put my mind to it. xx

Selin said...

Interesting post! For me, going to university was something that I always wanted to do. I wanted to move out of my family home, meet new people, experience "student life", gain some independence, and get myself a degree in the hope it would kickstart my career.

It's been two years since I graduated and I truly believe that going to university was the best thing that has happened to me. I'll never forget the the memories I made during my three years there, and I'm very grateful that I met some of my best friends and my boyfriend there. Plus, I do think my degree has helped me in securing a job that I really enjoy.

Having said that, university isn't for everyone and it certainly isn't the be all and end all. If you felt that it wasn't right for you, then it's great that you trusted your instincts and took a different path. There is no point wasting your time and money on something that you just didn't want to do. I think 18 is a very young age to make such a big decision on what you want to do with your life, and it's pretty cool that you were strong-minded enough to do what you felt was right for you.

In my opinion, it's never too late to learn. Whether you want to carry on climbing up the career ladder or enroll in a course a few years down the line, then do it! Don't take notice of what other people are doing, and do what's right for you :)

Sarah Madden said...

Rachel - Thanks Rachel! Yeah for someone like you (and me who didn't have a clear idea on a 'strong' subject) I think the benefits of not going + gaining experience etc have possibly outweighed the negatives? I'm happy for you that you're happy in what you're doing and in your decision and I hope in time that my happiness with my decisions will continue to grow. Maybe I'm having a mini quarter life crisis ;)

Sarah Madden said...

Jen - Firstly I'm so sorry you had to go through that - I went through something vaguely similar in sixth form and like you it definitely influenced me a little bit too! I think you've done brilliantly from leaving at 15 to get to where you are and you 100% can do and I'm sure you'll have every success with uni + beyond. Stories like yours definitely inspire me!

Selin - Thanks so much for your insight, what you mention about your initial reasons for wanting to go to uni are kind of what I'm battling now. I love the idea of the different type of 'independence' uni gives you and seeing my friends flourish in their new environments definitely gives me a touch of the green eyed monster. I'm so glad that uni worked out well for you, it sounds like you knew exactly what you wanted out of it and went and got it (props to you!) and I'm also thrilled for you that your degree also helped you secure your job (no easy feat we all know) I think I am just going to take my time, enjoy what I have now and accept that that was my decision and perhaps look to the part-time degree in future and continue to build on what I've achieved. I also completely agree that 18 is ridiculously young to be making such life altering choices - back then I was still acting 15 so goodness knows how I came out of it ok ha-ha!

Le Material Girl said...

i didn't go to uni, mind you you can be just as successful without degrees or exam results - hard work pays off! :)
xo

Mitha Komala said...

i am a person who thinks that having a degree doesnt mean you are smart enough to cope up with the surrounding, at the end of the day connection is way more important! so im sure you can be a successful person even without going to uni or college! <3

Letters To Juliet

Soph. said...

I didnt go to Uni either! I started college with the intentions of becoming a mental health nurse, however, I struggled my way through the two years at college, made several bad choices and literally scraped enough UCAS points to go to the University of my choise. I started to fill out my form and then decided I didnt want to go so I didnt.

It upset my family quite a lot and they thought I was making a bad decision but I am happy with my choice! I now have a good full time job with career prospects and I cant wait to see what the future holds for me!!

Sometimes I see my friends FB/Twitter statuses about how much fun they're having and think, jeeez I really have missed out but considering half of my friends haven't got a job relating to their degree at all, I don't feel too bad.

I would just relax in the thought that you've made the right decision!! Xx

Sarah S. said...

There were definitely times I didn't know what I doing at University... but in the end I needed a degree to get into the EFL teaching program I wanted to enter since I was 12. So I did it, and I'm glad I had the experiences I did but there's no need to wonder "what if?" because your experiences up to now have made you who you are and solidified your goals. It sounds to me like you did what was right for you! You didn't miss out because you lived your life.

Sarah Flight said...

I can totally relate to this. I really didn't want to go to uni. I just didn't feel like I needed to. I just wanted to work, so off I went and started working as an administrator for a law firm which I ended up doing for nearly 4 years. I got 2 pay increases in the first year and I know I was great at my job, but after a couple of years and the feeling of never learning anything new, never being challenged, I grew to hate the job. The company started to go seriously downhill due to money issues and they ended up merging with a different company, which was the most stress ever, and I felt I was way too young to be so bogged down by an average job. I never would have even applied to uni if it wasn't for Chris telling me for pretty much a year I should at least try it, I had plenty of money saved up from working so it wasn't like I was going to go bankrupt. We got our own place and I went to uni, I wasn't sure it was the right decision until I got the results of my first set of assignments back and discovered that I was actually more capable than I had ever imagined. I'm about to start my 3rd year next month and I can't believe it, it has gone so quick it really feels like I have only just started. It's just crazy. What baffles me most is why I didn't want to do it in the first place, who wouldn't want to improve their career prospects?

Sarah Flight said...

Jesus sorry for the loooooong comment lmao oops!! x

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