Michael and University


University to me was much like that ice cold drink you have been hankering for on a long hot summer’s day, the first gulp is undoubtedly the best. It hits you like a small eternity of wonder and satisfaction, washing away the intense infatuation you had before, and as it goes down your throat you instantly want another. But the second gulp comes and it’s not quite so sweet as you remember, sure it hits the spot but where was that fulfilment you remember so fondly? By the time the third gulp comes you know what you’re getting, you no longer have that obsessive thirst and you are kind of wondering if this drink was the one you really wanted all along.

My point here is solely from my own experience and outlook (and I do have a tendency to ramble so apologies in advance if I slip topic) but it goes something like this:
I wanted the “Uni life” I wanted to go party with my friends, get drunk and have fun. I wanted that maybe a little too much, sure I was keen to act, in fact it was the only thing aside from reading that I had ever really been passionate about. But the simple fact of it all is I was simply not ready to be there. I could do the work, but I wasn’t committed to it like I should have been. It’s easy when you’re at school or college, you have support from your tutors to meet deadlines, you get poked and prodded until you do the work, but university? No. It just doesn’t work like that, you need drive, you can’t just fake it. And, if I am honest with you all, I most certainly did not have it.

The thing is I was cocky. I had done well in acting my whole life purely off practical examinations, I had barely written an essay all the way through college bar the exact minimum I needed to do to pass. I think somewhere deep down I knew I wasn’t ready for the work load that comes with a degree, but I didn’t care either, my friends were all going to University and I wouldn’t be the one left behind. I was (and still am to some extent) a social addict, I spent half my life dossing about with friends when I could have been studying, prepping for an exam or finishing that essay I wrote the first two lines for. But please don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t do it any differently a second time around, only I might have waited a year or three before deciding if university was for me. Hell, even writing that now I know it’s not true, I am glad of every wrong step I have taken. For each one has given me another chapter in my own societal book. It’s easy to regret what could have been, much harder to appreciate what you gained from each “mistake” made along the way.

I suppose now would be a good time to fill you all in on what exactly occurred for myself at university, to summarise it briefly I went to study Acting and Directing in my first year, I attended quite well in my first semester, did a show or two and all was well. After Christmas I was partying quite heavily amongst other things. After that semester I slipped up quite badly and then by the third semester I had just given up. I then enrolled for a second course, this time it was Dance and Physical Theatre. Quite the side step for those of you not well versed with the arts, this in essence shows how unprepared I had been to make those choices, I had an interest for the course but it was not my passion and that was another reason, besides my overall lack of drive, that I ultimately dropped out at the end of the year. In actuality I had done much better on this second course and could have probably pulled through to get that degree if my heart had been in it. But alas, it was not. I was still drinking and partying too heavy and I slipped of the map. I won’t bang on too much about the actual time spent at university because I am probably not the most qualified person to do so, I did not immerse myself in the culture: the societies, the long hours in the library with friends finishing that essay that is due in at midnight, the lectures that were actually good and all that jazz. I met some great people, learnt a little of my chosen topic and a lot about life.

What I would say to the prospective student is this; go if you want to go, go if you are passionate about your chosen subject. But please for the love of god don’t think it is your only option! I went for two years of my life and whilst I did not finish a course or get a degree I do not regret a second of it. It showed me the open world; I was a country boy, never left my home town for longer than a holiday. But there I was, eighteen and living in the city, it was terrifying, exhilarating and enthralling all at once. I am not sure if I would have ever actually moved out of my home town if I hadn’t gone to university, I could still be there right now, working in the warehouse I used to work in, wishing I knew what the world was like but too scared to take that first step. But here I am instead, sat in my city centre apartment, writing this piece after a day’s work. And for the sceptics out there I now work as a manager at a very popular and well known family attraction. I manage a team of 50 people and I am making good money. It’s not exactly what I want to do forever but it opens a lot of doors, doors I am looking through with an open mind. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just walk into this job, it took a lot of hard work and perseverance. My point is this; a degree is not a necessity for a healthy career. Plenty of people I know have full degrees but still work a job that they do not want or one that does not quite pay enough. Others have a degree in one thing and a career in something completely different, that huge choice that you try to make at the age of seventeen or eighteen will not shape your life, only you can do that.

It’s hard to conclude a topic like this, one that could seemingly take forever to get my point across. I guess in the end what I would say is this; I went to university ill prepared to earn a degree, and as such I did not get one. What I did gain however was countless and priceless life lessons, lessons about the world, about people and about myself. I occasionally think about where I would be if I had gone a little later in life, but at each instance I am overwhelmed by how happy I am with the decisions I have made. My life is sweet, and bettered massively from my two drop out years at University.

Michael has just started a blog, head on over to http://throughdistractedeyes.blogspot.co.uk to show him some support!

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