Everyone has a unique path in life. Not a single person will ever walk the same one and that’s a good thing. Yet in our society, there are certain enforced crossroads, with education being one of them. When you reach this fork in the road, the “should I go to university” question emerges.

Through your educational journey, you have no choice in the beginning (thankfully). But when it comes to higher education, the power is in your hands. As such, “Should I go to university” is a question that most of us will ask ourselves at one point.

For some, it’s a rite of passage. For others, the thought of more lessons is almost laughable. But for those not on the definitive ends of the decision, it’s a tougher choice.

Leaving the comfort zone after 18+ years is not an easy move, yet the thought of staying where you are for the next 20 years also doesn’t fill you with joy. The thought of wanting to learn more conflicts with the uncertainty of direction.

There’s no right and wrong decision, just the one you make.

Weigh it up yourself and base your decision on what works for you. What you’ve been through, what you want now and where you’d like to find yourself.

Below are a few things to consider on either side of the coin. The one thing you won’t find is talk about money. I find it insulting speaking about ‘earning potential’ on either side, as though one guarantees more than the other. You can earn a great living going to university or without, so money doesn’t have to be the number one priority. You, your happiness, career, and potential should be your priority.

No article online can solve that for you, but if you’re querying “should I go to university”, here are a small selection of pros and cons for you to consider if you’re still flipping between.

 

Pro’s

Knowledge is power

A stack of books being held up on a hand.
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.

As above, knowledge is power.

Your level of understanding of a subject is one important piece of being able to competently carry out a role in that area. No blagging, or pretending you’re something you’re not. You can stand proud knowing that you know your stuff and that you can add qualified value to the situation.

University is by no means the only method of gaining knowledge. Some will argue it’s counter-intuitive to learning, due to its rigidity in the structure of teaching.

But if you need some direction in learning, and want to ensure that you’re gaining a solid foundational knowledge in your chosen area, then university is the way to go.

 

Solidifies a passion or calling

A painter working on a canvas.
Photo by Ari He on Unsplash.

If you’re lucky enough to have a calling, or you’re passionate about an area, matching it with formal education will formalise emotion.

It can span a huge range of sectors. It could be that you’re a caring person and want to become a nurse. Or you may want to reinforce your passion for football with a football business management course.

During school, you may have felt distracted or underwhelmed with studies you were forced to do. Yet, with a dedicated interest in something you’re passionate about, those 9 am starts are a lot easier, and you’ll feel a spark from education that you haven’t had before.

Once you’ve got passion, education, and experience in an area, you’re on the road to becoming unstoppable.

 

Develops a huge range of soft skills

Three friends standing and chatting together.
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

People seem to forget how much you can develop when you take on a new challenge.

It’ll be fun, sure, and you’ll develop loads of social skills.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You’ll have hurdles to overcome. You’ll work in teams you don’t want to. And you’ll definitely have to develop your time-management skills. It’s not just the education you’ll encounter, but experiences that force you to grow.

The resilience you build in the face of these experiences manifest themselves as skills for you to use time and time again.

 

New environment, new people

A group of university flatmates standing at a balcony looking at the sunset.
Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash

A change is as good as a rest.

Going to university allows you to not only step out of your comfort zone but to change your environment altogether.

Growing up in your home town means your network is who you’re geographically close to. You become friends with those who are in your class, or who you live nearby. That doesn’t mean that they’re the right people for you, however.

Getting into a new environment allows you a chance to be you. An uninfluenced you. A you that can put out your natural energy, and let those gravitate back towards you who reflect it.

University is the opportunity to surround yourself with those who are not only ‘your type of people’, but those who are good for you.

Change your environment, change your life.

 

Con’s

Student debt

A person using a credit card at a payment machine.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Unless you come from a well-off background, then student debt is unavoidable.

Without question, it tends to be the number one reason against going to university. The spiralling costs of university, thanks to politicians in our country, means that it can weigh heavily on someone. Especially if they’re unsure it’s the path they want to take.

At over £9000 a year for tuition fees alone, the debt can rack up, with an average of £40000 to £50000 for most, once maintenance living loans are included. This then comes out like raised taxes each month, once you’re earning a certain amount. The amount that comes out is in correlation to the amount you earn, so although you’ll hardly notice it, it’s still going out. Although, again thanks to politicians, what you do pay off is likely now to only be the interest.

Although you won’t really notice it, it’s debt nonetheless.

 

A big time commitment if you’re unsure

A bored office worker looking out the window.
Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

3+ years is an extensive point of your life. Between the age of 18-30, it’s pivotal.

If you’re unsure and you’re questioning “should I go to university”, it can be a tough decision to commit a large amount of your life to. You can’t flip flop with three years of your life. Plus, if you’re looking at certain courses, like nursing, you’d be committing for five years or more.

There’s an opportunity cost to everything in life, so you have to decide what’s worth more to you.

 

Not employability centric

A resume and a laptop on a bed.
Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

The argument between classroom learning and real-life learning is valid.

You’ll learn the fundamentals, sure. But how about dealing with difficult scenarios with co-workers? Or keeping stakeholders happy? Doing anything possible to keep the customer happy? Some things can only be learnt ‘on the job’, and going through real-life challenges will present real-life resilience.

University prepares you for the sector, but maybe not the job.

 

No guarantees

A man working on his laptop under pressure.
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Although it’s suggested that university enhances employability chances, there’s no guarantee.

You can smash your three years in university, gain top marks, but still not have a definite job waiting. There’s still a huge market of graduates vying for certain jobs. Yes, that level may be higher than going in at entry-level, but again, there’s no guarantee it’ll be your entry.

Take it as a boost up, not an automatic foot in.

 

I’ve deliberately not put if I went to university or not. If you’re asking “should I go to university”, you don’t need confirmation bias either way.

This is a personal decision to you. It’s a big one as well, as you’ll be spending a large part of your formative years doing a very specific something.

But, most importantly, it’s not the be-all or end-all. You’ll find a way to survive, and you’ll find a way to thrive.

There’s an opportunity cost to everything, but the magic is finding a way to enjoy whatever decision you make.

 

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