Why Are You Going To Uni?Posted: 24th of April 2015 by
For many A-level students the transition between 6th form college and university seems like a natural progression, almost as if it is the ‘expected’ route. It is easy to fall into this mind-set, especially if you have always had an idea of how your academic life would work out – from primary school to GCSE and right through to your A-levels. This sense of inevitability of going to university can be reinforced by your teachers and parents, making it very difficult to actually work out exactly why you are going to university.
University is a great destination for many people for all sorts of reasons – from the social-life to the chance to delve deeper into a particular subject. There are also the perceived benefits of going to university, and we recently conducted our own survey, asking graduates what they saw as the top benefits of going to university.
The responses showed a focus on the social and cultural aspects of the university life, with a smaller portion looking at how it aided them in the job market. 56% of the recent graduates felt that university made them “more qualified than some others going for the same job(s)” while 52% made note of “making lifelong friends.” 38% saw “moving to/ travelling to different places” as a benefit, while 32% highlighted “having the theoretical knowledge of a job sector.” Finally, 24% felt that “having the chance of a placement year for hands-on experience” was a great benefit.
These are all great things, but it seems that the age-old notion that graduates earn more than their peers just doesn’t seem to stand up anymore. With the high number of graduates leaving university each year, the graduate job market is saturated, meaning that while some will land the traditional high-paying graduate jobs, many will not.
In fact, the survey found that, on average, apprentices earn a starting salary in their first job that is £3,729 more per year than those who have attended university. The survey asked 2,614 young people who had all started their first job in the last 12 months after completing a university degree or an apprenticeship. 1,309 were apprentices and 1,305 were graduates. The average starting salary for the graduates was £14,734, whilst the apprenticeship took home an average starting salary of £18,463.
For the record, the apprentices felt that ‘hands-on experience whilst studying’ (42%), ‘Being able to earn money whilst learning’ (34%), ‘Being in a working environment’ (21%), ‘No debt at the end of it’ (16%), and ‘Getting a taste for whether or not the career was for me’ (13%), as the biggest benefits of their chosen path.
Clearly the benefits of each path are different, but while only 8% of apprentices said they wished they had done a degree instead, 33% of graduates said they wish they had taken apprenticeships instead of going to university – with debt and work experience being key factors.
As already stated, university is a great destination for thousands of young people each year, but it seems that not everyone is right for that direction. So, before you make a choice, just ask yourself what your goals are once you finish, and also why you are choosing that path.
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