Why I Should Never Have Gone to University

A year on from graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London and I feel like I’m in the perfect position to fully reflect on my life since leaving uni, but also, my time at university itself.

University was somehow always on the cards for me. It wasn’t that I was pressured too much by my parents - although my very academic school was a different story - for me, it felt like university was just the path I needed and wanted to take.

And 99% of that, is because it gave me a way to get away from the small, Dorset town in which I lived and move somewhere, away from my family, where I felt I would be an “adult”.

If y’know, adults had Wednesday night socials and woke up at 11am on a Thursday.

I can safely say that university was a choice based on leaving home and not actually because I wanted to continue studying, because in 2013, my final year of school, I applied and got places for English Literature at 5 universities across the country.

Then I freaked out, pulled out, reapplied to 5 new universities to study journalism and changed course once more when I found a university I loved but decided I preferred their Politics and International Relations degree.

 Finally, I’d chosen where I’d live, work and study for the next three years.

…And then I spent a gap year in Italy avoiding all thoughts of university, smoking Camel Lights in Italian plazas, drinking copious amounts of Prosecco and spending weekends in Venice and Verona.

What followed, was three life-changing years, containing some of the best and worst times of my life.

The parts that changed my life, were the people I met, the ability to live and function on my own and the ridiculous work ethic I now have, which one only gains when you are studying for a degree, working two jobs, running a blog, volunteering at a community radio station and training for a half marathon.

What didn’t change my life? My degree.

The information I learnt concerning my degree, which I will never apply to anything other than political and philosophical trivia questions.

I was employed straight out of university, I beat statistics and went immediately into a public relations job.

In fact, I beat statistics so much that I was employed before my university exams had even finished, because my new job didn’t care at all about the degree I spent three years studying for.

I was employed because of my blog and my work experience, both of which I had already started curating before setting foot in my first lecture theatre.

It took me just three months in a full time, office job, to make me realise I don’t want to be in a permanent, stuffy, 9 - 5.

A realisation I would’ve come to three years earlier if I’d followed my gut instinct to bolt from the university path.

There may come a time in my life, where I am thankful with every bone in my body for the degree I’m £50,000 in debt for.

Maybe I’ll land a job against someone equally as qualified when I’m 35 because of the degree I have - that’s the hypothetical scenario we were basically all given at school, right?

The friends I made at university, mean I will never be able to 100% regret it. If I had to choose now a life without the girls I met the day I moved in, or the soulmates I lived with in my final year, or the three most varied, hilarious boys I became best friends with in my second year, I would always choose to go to university, because my life would be empty without them.

But as an 18-year-old, being told to apply for university because it will “open doors” and “make you stand out”, I can safely say, university has not changed my life at all in that regard - except that I am three years late to a party of individuals who have spent the last few years gaining work experience in the creative, media industry, whilst I studied the theory of Bentham’s Panopticon and Foucault’s History of Sexuality.

Everybody has a degree now.

Even the large audit companies, the forerunners of the graduate schemes, are doing “blind assessments” of job candidates, asking for no educational information.

Because really, it doesn’t matter. If you are a motivated, hard-working person, a piece of paper with a degree doesn’t define those values. Graduates still get turned down, they’re still unemployed, and they’re still working in jobs their schools never warned them about.

(Aka recruitment).

If you’re stuck on the university fence, think long and hard about the choices you’re making and the reasons you’re making them.

Obvs, disregard this if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a dentist because YOU ARE THE BEST AND WE REALLY NEED YOU.

Fellow creatives and arty people, look into internships and apprenticeships, network through family and friends, find out how valued a degree is in the industry you so desperately want to go into.

University changed my life, but my degree didn’t.

Love, Alice x

1 comment

  1. I love this post and I completely agree with everything you said! I think university is definitely good for the social side and the experiences you get to have and the people you get to meet, but I don't think it is worth the debt for the degree. I find that a degree doesn't separate you from many people nowadays because everyone seems to be going to university. I 100% agree with you that experience gets you jobs. All the jobs I have managed to get is due to my experience with my blog- which is amazing but also frustrating because I now know that I could have easily gotten into a career without and degree and the debt!
    Chloe X chloelxuise.com