University is a pathway of life that ties in with the first experiences of adulthood. It’s not compulsory, and only became an accessible route of education to many following the foundation of the Student Loans Company in the UK in the 1990’s. And even now, many people choose not to go to university for a number of reasons – they don’t need the qualification for the job they want/have, they dislike academic environments, they don’t have the funds or simply have no interest.
However, applying to university is now heavily pushed and even in some case expected from many schools in England, and teenagers find themselves applying to places all over the country without having a moment to think whether this is something they really want or even need to do. It’s more common as a result of this that many students will get through the first year of their degree and have a moment of realisation thinking “Why am I even studying this?”. And it’s because a lot of young people are convinced to choose a degree without having the time to discover themselves, their passions and interests, and make life-altering decisions before having this insight to make better choices. Students get to university, a place which is advertised to be the place of study like they had at school, but this time there’s also parties, booze and sex. Being excited for adulthood and being excited for university are accidentally mixed together as they come under the same timeframe, and it’s pretty hard to deal with two new experiences all at once.
University might not be the best time of your life. You might end up in a flat full of people you don’t get on with, and this is more common than you’d think, despite how much the group of students on the accommodation flyer who look so happy to be together might try and convince you otherwise. You might find your course really difficult – like a lot harder than it was at A-level. You might realise you don’t like drinking culture, or nightclubs and pubs. You might miss your parents and family more than you expected to. You might struggle with money management. You might experience a lot of things that you didn’t necessarily expect to be faced with when you sent off your UCAS application, but that’s okay. Uni may be painted as the ‘Best time of your Life’ by many people on social media, but everyone’s likes and interests are different, and Uni can often be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to education.
On the other hand, you can still go to uni and not have an amazing experience but still have a good time. At the end of the day, you’ve got to remember why you applied in the first place. Was it to gain a qualification? Was it to develop skills or educate yourself further in various fields? No matter the reason, if you needed to go to university to get you where you want to go then that is what you need to remain focused on. Help is available, and there are always others who are going through a similar experience. If we put too much pressure on an experience being the best time of our lives, then more likely it is going to disappoint. Taking life step by step is the key, work towards smaller goals and enjoy the little moments along the way.