Second thoughts: Is uni for me?

So, it’s the Summer Holidays. You’ve been having these for thirteen years by now, you know the drill. But somehow, this one feels different. With school and exams behind you and university ahead of you, everything is changing. It’s natural to be nervous and excited about the change, but those nerves may be escalating into genuine doubts about whether you’ve made the right choice. Before you go making any rash decisions, let’s sit down and talk about your doubts, and see if you can reach a decision you’re happy with.

1. “What if I can’t handle it?”

A-Levels were hard. I mean, really hard. And if, like me, you went from As and Bs at GCSE to having to retake all your AS Level exams after scraping Ds and Es, it will have knocked your confidence a lot. What if I told you that university was actually easier? You wouldn’t believe me, right? Well I suppose, technically, it isn’t. You’re processing a lot more information, your coursework has higher word counts and the topics are more advanced. But to counter that, your schedule’s lighter and you can take charge of your own education. At uni you’ll have probably 15 hours of classes per week, and the rest is up to you to decide how much you want to study and how hard you want to play. University is largely independent work, which gives you the freedom to work at your own pace, meet with your lectures to discuss one-on-one anything you’re unsure about, and find the resources in your expansive campus library that will explains things in terms you understand. Besides, you’ll never know if you don’t try.

2. “I’m Only Going Because I Don’t Know What Else To Do”

You don’t have a career plan, you don’t really want to go straight into work, and you wouldn’t know how to get a job with just A-Levels anyway. All you know is that there’s something you love, or are interested in, and it’s on offer at university. And £9k+ a year is a lot of debt to get into if you’re not sure what what you’re going to do with it afterwards. I’m going to need you to trust me on this: you’re not alone. Very few people go to uni with a concrete idea of what they want to do afterwards. I changed my degree course 15 times before finally submitting my UCAS application, and even then I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. My best advice in this situation is to pursue your interests, and see what that grows into. It’s not until you really get stuck into a subject before you know what doors it can open up to you.

3. “I don’t need to go to university for my course.”

Around this time of year a lot of people start sharing their unwanted opinions about what they think are “worthwhile” subjects and what they disapprove of. And it’s always the same targets: Arts, Media, and pretty much anything that isn’t Science, Medicine, or Law. And it’s at this time of cold feet that you might be letting those people get in your head. I’ll let you into a secret though: uni isn’t just about the piece of paper you get at the end of it. It’s about the people you meet, the passions you discover, and the industry contacts you make while you’re there. It gives you the chance to build up your portfolio, your work experience, your field knowledge and have a great time. You may not need to go to university for your subject, and if you decide it’s not for you then that is your choice, but there are definitely benefits of going, whatever you’re studying.

4. “I’ve changed my mind about what I want to do.”

Want to still go to your Firm choice but not too sure about the course you picked? Have an idea of what you’d rather do instead? Do some research, look at the courses on offer and their entry requirements. Then contact the university to see if it’s possible. Depending on how big the change is, it can be fairly simple. I wanted to drop the Business side of my Modern Languages with Business course, so I went to my tutor in first week and we agreed to drop the Business modules and pick up more German modules - I  actually ended up being the only person in the university with my specific course title. Get me. My point is, that it can be fairly easy or difficult depending on how drastic a change you want to make. But talk with your teachers at college and talk with the university and see what your options are. You’re not obligated to get into debt for something you don’t want to do.

5. “I’m just not ready.”

Perhaps you’re having some personal matters to cope with, or perhaps after 13 years of education you just want a break to figure out your next steps. There’s no shame in this at all, that’s why Gap Years are a thing. But do take some time to think about if that’s really want you want, and seek your school advisors, friends and family for advice. If you decide that you really do want a break, then speak with your firm and insurance choices about the possibility of deferring a year, or you can simply re-apply next year when you’re ready. The uni will want to know what you’re planning to do with your gap year and what you want to achieve from it, so make sure you go in with an idea of what you want to do with your time off. The decision to go (or not to go) to uni is a big one, and one you should really think about and discuss with those you trust. Take a deep breath, have a sip of water, and take some time to think. You’ve got this!

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