When I finished school in my late teens (as I’m based in the UK, this meant finishing my A Levels), I had an important choice to make. Should I continue my education by heading to university or throw myself into the world of work? I chose the former, and I’ve never looked back.
The majority of my friends at the time chose the uni route. They disappeared, pillow and rucksack in hand to join a world of higher education which, from what we all thought at the time, masked three years of debauchery and learning one’s limit when it comes to alcohol (and exceeding it, regularly).
You may think it was a tough decision, but it was actually pretty simple. I didn’t want to be swayed by the crowd and didn’t really have a solid idea of the career path I wanted to head down. University just didn’t reel me in.
Now I look back some twenty years later, I can pinpoint 5 specific reasons I didn’t go to university. If you’re facing this conundrum, they may help you make up your own mind.
1. It didn’t feel like a big decision
I allude to this above, but university didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Sure, I’d end up with a degree, but because my possible career choice felt like a bit of an open book, I simply didn’t have a particular goal to aim for or a desire to do anything which required a specific qualification.
If a decision doesn’t feel big, it probably isn’t, and if you don’t feel the university tractor beam pulling you in, it’s probably for a reason.
2. The debt was unpalatable
If you go to university, you have to come to terms with the fact that a degree isn’t the only thing you’ll come away with. Student loans are considerable sums which stay with graduates until they reach a specific earning bracket, at which they’re expected to pay it back.
This didn’t whet my appetite at all. Again, because my career path felt anything but defined, I didn’t want to put myself in debt purely in the name of further education. It didn’t seem very cost-effective to me.
3. I felt entrepreneurial
I enjoyed school, but by the time I’d finished my A Levels, I felt ready to move into the world of work. I wanted to build experience in the commercial realm and fathom out how I could become successful off my own back.
Thoughts of burning myself out were thrust to the back of my mind at that age; I was young and hungry for the taste of success. Three years at university felt like something of a distraction.
4. I spoke to my parents
My mum, at the time, was a teacher, so you can imagine the trepidation I felt approaching her for advice on the subject of not wanting to go to university. What I received was the best advice any child can receive from a parent: follow your head. My head said ‘don’t go to university’. And, as always, my mum was right.
5. I was happy with my social life
Some people head to university in the search of new friends and life experiences, but I was quite happy in that department. I had a brilliant group of friends and an enjoyable social life; it didn’t feel like anything was missing.
Some may scoff at this tip, preferring to put an experience of university life above and beyond old friendships, but I firmly believe the latter are one of the keys to being successful in life. If you’re happy at home, you’ll be more productive in the world of work. Simple.
University isn’t for everyone. That said, peer pressure and an unfair level of expectance from your parents could be making your decision unnecessarily difficult. Remember: it’s your decision, no one else’s. If you think you can forge a better career by not going to university — I absolutely urge you to do so. It worked for me.