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Why deciding not to go to Uni could be the best decision you ever make

Last updated April 28th, 2016

Could the current generation of parents be the first ones who won’t want their children to go to university? Until now that mortarboard photo on the sideboard has always been the dream, visual proof that your children have made their way to the top of the educational ladder.  But that was before tuition fees. Now there’s a price tag attached to your little one’s ‘ology’ how many people will automatically see it as a good thing? Perhaps more of us will refuse to bow down to the god of Uni? If so, that can only be a good thing, there are better alternatives out there.
After school I’d spent a year as an office junior, earning a few pounds and discovering what this thing called ‘employment’ was all about. Perhaps that’s why I found university so frustrating — it was a return to school but without the uniform. There was a feeling of life being on hold, the knowledge, even as you crammed for your latest exam, that as soon as the exam was over your brain was going to jettison the material for ever. The chances of it coming in useful later were zero. University was really just a box to be ticked, something you did because everybody else did it, or at least everybody who had good enough A-level grades. Sure, conventional wisdom painted it as an ‘investment in your future’, a ‘valuable addition to your CV’, and lots of other phrases designed to cover up the truth, namely that university is a way of delaying real life for three years while you joke around with traffic cones and tequila.
The standard argument from most people is, ‘university teaches you about living away from home.’ You get the same lesson if you move out and start working. Plus you’re earning money, so enabling you to have some real fun, rather than the sort that involves collecting together all your loose change before deciding whether you can afford your lunch. Now students have to find nine thousand a year in tuition fees, surely more school-leavers will see sense and look for a vocational course to further their professional development. A course that works around their lives and is completed in a few months not 3 YEARS!
This isn’t to say that no one needs university. If your job’s going to involve you operating on people’s brains or designing buildings safe enough for them to live in, then clearly you need some training. But the rest of us really? couldn’t you learn whilst working or spend 3 months training and 3 months in the work place? getting yourself on that first rung of the career ladder.
For a few years yet, university will have a snob value built into it. But more and more the positions of power will come to be occupied by people whose degrees cost them dearly, who’ll have first-hand experience of questioning whether that money actually bought them anything.  Instead of being a safety net, though, the degree of the future will be a millstone, sapping your bank balance for decades as you repay your student debt. Let’s see how long the mortarboard retains its sheen then.
The other factor — and the reason the state can no longer afford to fund degrees in the first place — is that the number of people taking them has risen so astronomically. This in itself will help remove the false mystique from the phrase ‘university-educated’. Did you attend the University of South Lincolnshire? Then you might as well have not bothered. Instead of asking ‘Did you go to university?’, employers will ask ‘Which university did you go to?’ This assumes that employers will even ask about your education. Some already ask would-be interns to remove it from their CV, preferring to assess candidates on their ideas for the job and how they present them, rather than on a list of academic qualifications. We predict that more and more companies will follow suit. This isn’t an anti-university argument in itself — it could be that those employers still believe a degree makes you a better prospect, but don’t want to prejudice their decision. Similarly school-leavers might genuinely view a degree as a worthwhile investment rather than a necessary line on their CV.
All the people I’ve ever heard expressing regret at not going to university are perfect examples of why you don’t need to. They’ve all achieved massively in their own fields, largely because they understand human nature and are good at dealing with people (any technical knowledge you need for a job is best learned on the job). Why does ‘education’ have to mean an institution? Life is its own education, as well as its own exam. Sure, you need school to set you up with the basics, but university is about narrowing everything down to the one subject you really want to devote yourself to — and how can you possibly know what that is at 18? A friend of mine has got it the right way round: after a long and successful career in the City he’s now planning, in his early sixties, to take a degree. Do you really want to spend 3 years of your youth at University?
For more information about courses that fit around your future visit our Which Course page we offer courses to suit everyone’s lives. For more information – Call +44(0)20 7183 5129 or email karin@eventcourse.com
 

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