Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Spend £27,000 on university? No, thank you..."

When I tell people I’m not going to university, I am often met with shock and pity. I have the qualifications – three A-levels, including two As – but not the inclination.

This autumn, I have watched each and every one of my friends leave home for higher education. My entire school life had been based on preparing me for to university. In Year Seven, my teachers would hold up failed maths exams and bellow, “You will never go to university if you carry on like this”. In sixth form, I had two classes a week devoted solely to my Ucas application; and after I’d been suspended for a second time, the headmaster put his head in his hands and sighed, “Well, there’s always secretarial college”.

So higher education of some kind was not an option, it was a given. Now, when people find out that I am not participating in this rite of passage, they tend to assume that I am either about to come into a huge amount of money or that I failed my A-levels. Neither of which is the case: I just don’t want to go.

I became disillusioned with the idea of university when I realised that every one of my friends was applying. Not just the clever ones, or those who wanted to carry on studying: all of them – including those who “simply couldn’t miss out on freshers’ week”.

But the intensive competition for truly desirable courses meant the majority had to settle for subjects of minimal interest. My two best friends, neither of whom is entirely unintelligent, both applied to relatively competitive universities because of pushy parents and the assumption that university is everything. They have ended up studying Construction Management and Sports Performance Studies. more