Sometime next week the new intake of university freshers will be discovering who they will be spending the next academic year living with. It is certain to be a significant step for any 18 year old finally leaving home, on the cusp of independence as the stark reality of adult life begins to set in. The perils of university in those first few days will be felt; a combination of stomach churning; stimulating and forbidding experiences that as they shall soon discover, do very little for your cholesterol.
For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, a friend of mine thought it would be an excellent idea to enrol at university, move in to his new flat, wave goodbye to his parents before suddenly realising that he had not one of the necessary skills required to actively survive beyond 5pm when he would require dinner.
University is a good experience if you would like to learn how to survive but it is also very good if would like to become a Doctor or a Nurse, Teacher, academic or something that has a defined career path. In this instance you will probably need to go to university. If you have a burning desire to develop a career in; Medicine, Psychology or Computer Programming, great. University does not offer a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for many other courses. I am talking from experience.
Historically very few people used to go to university but those who did went with a goal in mind whilst those who achieved suitable A-levels used to waltz into the local Natwest, obtain a trainee managers job and sure enough sooner or later they were running a bank. This system worked quite well because people received jobs that were worthy of their educational status. Unfortunately everybody decided that they wanted to be a manager at Natwest so everybody started taking their A-levels and because Natwest doesn’t have 1,087 branches in Oxford city centre people started going to university to trump everyone else. This means that Natwest now receives applications from one million bank managers. At this time the current system is unsustainable.
But here’s the thing; for most of us we would much prefer to do something which does not require a degree, which begs the question; “why university?”. The problem being my 18 year old self was typical of many prospective students embarking on university today. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life so it became a very easy decision to make. I finished college and all of my friends found themselves lost in the mayhem of life. This scenario likely extends across the country where students ponder; ‘let’s all go to university because that’s what everyone else does and there will be an excellent job waiting for me at the end.’
As someone who is intrinsically goal orientated (until recently I worked 100+ weeks) it was not an environment that I flourished in and it is easy to fall into an idle state. At university I worked for 3 hours a week (a combination of seminars and lectures), the rest of the time was essentially left to burn – Not by choice, it was the given schedule. If you give a student a lot of time, stick him in a house with a couple of other like-minded students with immeasurable time on their hands, naturally they will conclude that time would be best spent procrastinating.
There are some excellent stories and experiences that will come from being a university student. On a personal level university was not something I gained a great deal from. Whilst I took some positives; I didn’t gain what I may have hoped. Why? I undertook a degree that didn’t offer me the defined career path I spoke of earlier, neither did I require 3 years to mature – I was at a crossroads.
University is excellent for someone who seeks a defined career path or an individual who desires life changing experiences. It is something personal and it is not for everyone however you will be unable to achieve success and you cannot achieve this without the risk or fear of failure. If you’re not afraid to fail, you have an excellent chance to succeed. But you’re never going to get there unless you risk it, all the way.