Ellie and University


For a lot of people, University is the natural next step after Sixth form.  Our parents tell us to go, our teachers encourage us to go, and all of our friends are going.  But what happens and what options do you have if Uni isn’t for you?
My reasoning for not attending University is in my opinion not an unusual one. Though I used to tell people it was a financial decision (god damn those student fees) in reality being asked aged 16-18 what I wanted from my life and the path I was going to be taking for the next 50 years daunted me so much that my brain went running so far and fast in the opposite direction that it was hard for the rest of me to catch up.
I think the largest myth about not attending University is that your job prospects fall and you will end up in a dead end career hating life. Which in my experience isn’t true in the slightest. Because I didn’t go to University I got to experience a wide range of other life paths, which I otherwise wouldn’t have. Some successful others not so much, (don’t be an Au Pair when you don’t really like children, trust me on that one) but every experience has moulded me into the person I am today. At the end of the day you get out of life what you put into it, if you were motivated enough to even have the option to go to university you’re more than likely motivated enough to turn any job into a career.
So let’s talk about options, and trust me there are many, I should know I’ve attempted them all.
 I’ll start with other option that could be seen as the most academic, (and the easiest way to still please the parents) Apprenticeships. Though in days gone by apprenticeships were used usually for those of a lower class background to learn a trade of the manual kind, these days there’s such a range of apprenticeships that they’re an amazing alternative to University. There’s apprenticeships in creative media, dental nursing, construction, engineering, administration, hair dressing, digital marketing. The list goes on and on. Apprenticeships are an amazing way to “earn and learn” and a lot of the careers/skills you learn on the apprenticeship course can be transferred or developed into other career/life paths. Though I’d say the only downside to this is the “earn” part is usually quite a low sum until you complete the course.
The obvious alternative to Uni is to jump straight into the work force, which is a very viable option, it’s clearly the better financial option as you would be working full time with a full time wage coming in every month. This does leave you with more monetary freedom meaning you can book that holiday with your friends (provided you get the time off work) or you can buy that bag you’ve wanted all year, or if you’re even more sensible than most you can save for that house you’ve dreamt of, which as a millennial is a feat in itself.  As I stated earlier if you have the right mind set you can turn any job into a career or just use it as your stepping stone into figuring out what you want in life.
Another option is spending some time working abroad, this is usually the least cost effective option but there are ways to do it very cheaply. (Though the flight costs will always be a shock to the system) You could do a season in a ski resort, or holiday rep in a warmer climate, or even spend up to 1/2years looking after children as a nanny/au pair all across the world. There’s also a program for 18-25year olds in Britain called ICS in which you can spend up to 12 weeks working abroad with a charity at very little cost to yourself personally. A lot of things you learn in life don’t come from the classroom they come from experiencing life in general and experiencing a different kind of life than you’re accustomed to. I’d definitely recommend travel to anyone who isn’t sure which direction to take in life, it can often lead you to the answer and if it doesn’t you’ve had an experience that you can draw from throughout your life.
Now I’m not going to say I’ve had the smoothest transition into adulthood since rejecting the idea of Uni, but I’ve certainly had an interesting one. I’ve tried a lot of alternatives to university, Apprenticeships, Full time work, Travelling/working I’ve had breakdowns and revelations about what my life will turn into. Some enlightening others pipe dreams that made no sense out of the moment (how’re you going to own a bakery when you can’t even eat wheat and hate the mornings) But my transition into Adulthood is just that. MINE. And though some would argue that I should have gone to Uni aged 18 and stuck it out in order to have a better option career wise for my life to go in. I can honestly say I don’t regret not going at that point in my life, because I wouldn’t of met some of the people I have, I wouldn’t of experienced half the things I have, I wouldn’t be the strong, independent, functional woman I am today.
You’ve got to remember that just because something isn’t for you at this point in your life doesn’t mean that door is closed forever. While some people choose not to go to Uni and are content never going, others (including myself) find their way back to the whole University thing, and while being a ‘mature student’ and going from full time work and comfortability to part time work is extremely daunting, this level of daunting doesn’t make me want to run like it did when I was 18, because I know what I want from life now and trust me its A LOT different to what I thought I possibly wanted at 18. And if I hadn’t taken that time, and tried all those different options I probably wouldn’t have found out the person I want to be, the places I want to go and things I want to do.  I will always be proud of myself for not going to University at 18 because I did what was right for me.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that this choice is yours, and yours alone. Though you should listen to the advice of your parents, peers and teachers, the choice is ultimately, undeniably yours and doing what is best for you is more important than doing what you think should be done for the sake of other people’s opinions.

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Ellie is currently fundraising for a trip to Nepal. To find out more and donate click here.

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