This year I must have been asked the same question from roughly 20 different people “Is University worth it?”. After a few seconds tentatively explaining the complexity and lack of ‘one size fits all’ answerability to this question, I responded with the only opinion and cheesy cliché I now know since completing my first year “It is if you want it to be”
If the question would have been “is a degree worth £9,000?” I would have spared no time in hastily replying with a resounding “NO”. With 529,290 students applying for University places in 2015, a simple degree declaring your achievement of either a first, 2:1, or 2:2 is quite frankly meaningless when it comes to landing the ‘golden job’ upon graduation. This is an opinion I have been told over and over throughout this year by professionals from all walks of life (even my own lecturers!)
So, surely spending 3 years of your life living off jumbo packs of fusilli from Cash & Carry and being kept awake by the thumping bass from downstairs is meaningless and a waste of time? Well, no- if you have the right mentality.
What I have learnt this year is that going to University to study x, y or z isn’t about working day and night to hit the magical 70% ‘first’ grade (although if you do, good on you!), but to grab every opportunity that crops up alongside your degree with both hands, teeth, arms, whatever.
It is by doing this and throwing yourself in the deep end with summer schools, work placements, and any excuse to further your learning that you will see what exactly makes the £9,000 a seemingly ‘cheap’ investment.
If you are going to University this year and all you are thinking about is the Fresher’s nights out during the first few weeks, that’s great; revel in the madness of meeting new people you’ll forget the next day but see around campus and constantly think “why do I recognise him?”. But after this, ensure you make time for the outside opportunities and pre-career ‘adventures’ that show you’ve lived and which will be priceless when sitting in front of ‘Mr. Barclays’ or ‘Mr. Saatchi’ for that career defining interview.
So go study in Thailand. Create your own website. Ring up countless employers to snatch a whiff of experience of the working world. Anything! Because it is only by turning off Netflix at 2 in the afternoon, dusting off the Doritos crumbs, and going out of your way to do this stuff that your degree will be money well spent and you’ll go from being one of many, to one of few.