Should I go to university?

Most young people wonder at some point - should I go to university?University study, whether it’s full time, part time or distance learning can be really rewarding. Not just for the qualification that you (hopefully) gain, but also the peripheral gains of living independently, making new friends, reinventing yourself in a new environment and sating your intellectual thirst by immersing yourself in intellectual chatter with your fellow students.For many, whilst they are at university, their future career plans are altered or refined as they study particular modules; learn about the study being undertaken by their fellow students or gain inspiration from tutors and guest speakers.University isn't for everyoneThis all sounds great and groovy right? - the university ‘experience’ isn’t for everyone though. The truth is that for as many who gain an enormous amount from university study, there are those who either do not make the most of their university study or who would perhaps have fared better by choosing an alternative route to university.There are some careers which you simply cannot get into without university study, for example medicine or a career as a barrister (you can become a legal executive without attending university however, which is still a lawyer and the new solicitor apprenticeship is about to kick off). However, many other careers are available to you either without a degree or without you having to attend university full time at least.The costs of universityLet’s be honest about it – university study (particularly full time) is expensive. Graduates are expected now to leave university with a debt of around £60,000 and many will simply live with this debt, like a kind of additional tax that they pay, with very little hope of paying that debt off.Sure, if you are going to leave university and step into a life-long career with is emotionally and financially rewarding then you may feel that it’s worth the money. However, many university students do not feel that university study is value for money and many find that they can’t make ends meet whilst they are at university. Perhaps you shouldn’t be put off by the fees (although we should all question the charging of £9,000 a year tuition fees for degree courses with poor employability prospects), but equally, you shouldn’t do a degree just because ‘it’s what’s done’.The trick is – do your research; do you need a degree to pursue the career you want or is there another way that you can achieve the same career goal, for example an apprenticeship or school leaver programme? There are certainly some advantages to beginning your career sooner rather than later and for some, there is an added advantage of gaining the employability skills needed for success with an employer (although some universities offer fantastic work placement opportunities and have excellent links with industry).Ultimately, the choice of whether you should go to university is a personal one and the important thing to remember is that there are plenty of choices available to you and no ‘one set route’ to a great career.

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