Its officially September and, for many people, its time to start college or university – that all exciting time when you start something new. However, university isn’t for everyone – 4 years ago, I left college and had to make the decision whether to go or not.
In the end I decided not to go and it was the best decision of my life. Don’t get me wrong – I have friends who went and it has made them who they are today and given them some of the most amazing opportunities, but it just wasn’t for me.
I left college with two conditional offers and a faded interest in education. I’d only part-visited two universities and was more interested in getting myself a nice flat than getting onto the course I was considering. Eventually I decided not to go, applied for a job and four years later here I am, having worked every month (bar one) since leaving.
So if you’ve got a decision to make or if you’ve decided not to go, then hopefully these tips/accounts of my experiences will help you take those next few steps.
- Listen to those around you – but ultimately the decision lies with you.
I have some friends and family who went to Uni and some who didn’t and I think it’s important to hear both sides of the story. Before making the decision you need to hear both the good and bad aspects for each option but, at the end of the day, the only one who can decide is you. I knew it wasn’t right for me because I just wasn’t interested. I didn’t care about the course or even really what the uni looked like and I knew that if one day I had a lie in and missed a lecture, I’d probably just keep doing it until eventually I had missed too much. People only want the best for you but you’re the only one who knows whether it’s what you want.
2.Take as much time as you need.
When I realised it wasn’t for me, I deferred my place for a year. I worked different jobs, travelled to Paris, London and Valencia and gradually I realised that I just didn’t want to go at all. That year gave me the confidence to cancel the course and I think it helped my family to see that I really had made the right decision for me. Take that gap year, find out what you like and where you want to be.
Don’t rush into going just because it’s what everyone else is doing. You’re allowed to be different, you’re allowed to be you.
3. If you know the field you’d like to work in, try lots of roles.
I knew I wanted to help people and originally thought I just wanted to work with children and young people. So I worked jobs in as many roles in that field as I could, I worked as a Play Worker with ages from 0-13, I worked in two different Youth Worker roles with ages from 7-11 and 11-19 and now I work with volunteers with ages from 16-90!
By doing this, you can rule out jobs you know you don’t want to do and this will help you to find your way. For me, I now know I enjoy working with volunteers and after doing a couple of roles that encouraged me to take part in managing staff, I know that’s another area of work that like.
Try not to turn down any opportunity – it’s all a chance to grow and learn.
4. Don’t let anyone knock you down for your decision.
Not everyone will agree with your decision not to go and some people just won’t understand it. However, at the end of the day, it’s your life and just because you didn’t go doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get the job you want or have similar experiences. Further education isn’t for everyone and it would be a worse decision to go and hate every minute of it.
5. Save, save and save again.
If you decide not to go to uni, either not yet or not at all, make sure you save some of what you earn. It’s always good to have a ‘nest egg’ but more importantly it means you never have to miss out, whether it’s on nights out or that amazing holiday. You’re reaping the benefits from your decision, which you’ve worked hard to earn. Trust me, older you will thank you if you’ve got some money in the bank!
6. Learn the life skills your friends are learning being away from home.
Learn to cook, clean and generally cope alone. Just because you don’t have your own space doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be learning the same skills. So use your time to boost your knowledge, it’ll make it a lot easier when you do decide to move out.
7. Learn to love yourself.
When your friends go off to uni it can feel hard to meet new people, especially if you’re looking for something deeper than friendship. So go out, join clubs and have as much fun as you can and eventually it will happen. But first, get to know yourself – know what you like and don’t like, work out where you want to be, do things you’ve always wanted to do, learn how to dress the best for your figure and how to do your makeup to show off your features.
Not going to Uni isn’t a bad mark against your character and doesn’t make you any less worthy. So take time to appreciate the skills you already have, whether you’re a good listener, you’re funny or whether you’re really good at your job. Find your good qualities and don’t let them go.
While everyone’s off learning ready for exams, you can be learning about yourself. Dedicate time to self-care and that way you can always put your best foot forward, because confidence is beautiful.
8. Adventures are the best ways to learn.
Go visit friends who did go to uni, I’m sure more than enough of them would be happy to let you crash at their place. Go to places you’ve never been, find hidden gems and meet their new uni friends. Go on holidays, go to festivals – seeing the world has never been easier.
Since leaving college I’ve been to, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Australia, Spain, Canary Islands, Sheffield, Coventry, Lake District, to name a few. I’ve been to events like La Tomatina, V Festival, London Fashion Weekend, Edinburgh Fashion Week and much more.
Use your time to visit new places or to fall back in love with old ones.
At the end of the day, I can’t tell you whether or not to go – that’s completely up to you and no-one else. There are lots of benefits to going but there are also lots of benefits if you decide not to go. More importantly, it’s never to late – you can do evening classes, go back and reapply or just do training through your work. Don’t let your fear stop you – you’ve got this.
If you’ve decided not to go (yet or at all) , then don’t worry, your adventure is just beginning and trust me – it’s worth it!