- Are you ready for university?
- Why go to university?
- Choosing universities
- Cons of attending universities
- What are apprenticeships?
Universities have long been the most popular choice for students who have just finished secondary school. Therefore, it's a great idea to start working on any applications for prestigious colleges during school while preparing for your A-level examinations.
However, in today's world, where the options and opportunities are limitless, the question arises: what are the pros and cons of university?
Keep on reading to gain a deep insight into the benefits of going to university as well as answers to that burning question – is university right for me?
Are you ready for university?
University can be a must-have experience for some, while it might be entirely counterproductive for others. The benefits of attending university ultimately depend on you and your current state and ambitions.
To help you make a decision, we’ve listed a few questions that will help you to understand the benefits of university and whether it’s right for you.
What are your interests and goals? 👨🎓
The sole factor in deciding whether to go to university could be the career path you wish to take. Do you have a fixed career path you want to pursue? Are you unsure about pursuing further education? Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Will a university degree help you achieve these dreams? What are the pros and cons of university education?
Opening up an honest conversation about this can help you identify your needs and fulfil them accordingly. Ultimately, this decision will be yours to make alone but don’t be afraid to ask your parents and teachers for advice. They know you well, have your best interests at heart and they probably went through it themselves once too.
Do you want to take a gap year?
You also have the option to take a gap year if you feel like you need more time to explore and better understand what you want for yourself.
Deciding whether or not to go to college is one of the most significant decisions you will make. Opting for a gap year could be the perfect next step and may well help you navigate your future more clearly.
Is the cost worth it? 💶
Financing higher education can be steep and complex. Currently, in the UK, UK and EU students at English universities are required to pay up to £9,250 per year, excluding other expenses like housing and living expenses. Many student loan policies make education accessible; however, they might not be worth it if a university education isn't necessary for the field you aim to enter.
It is, therefore, necessary to first carefully analyse whether you can afford it in the long run. Education can be extremely worth it as it yields high returns after graduation but can also be ultimately futile if you have other options in mind.
Have you considered other options?
University education definitely isn't the only means to get a job or be skilled at a specific task force. Many apprenticeship programs can train you for a career path you want to pursue, with much lower tuition costs. In addition, these opportunities can help you learn the required skills in a shorter period and get started immediately after you graduate.
Alternatives to a traditional university education may include:
- Getting a full-time job directly
- Taking a gap year
- Online Universities
- Taking part-time degrees
- School leaver program
- Studying/working abroad
- Taking other professional qualifications/apprenticeship programs
Why go to university? 🎓
Going to university has been a long and competitive tradition. These three to four years of studying at a particular institution have the power to change your entire life. Below, we have listed some key factors that highlight the benefits of being a university student.
Become an expert
University is an excellent place to focus on your passion and interests. For example, let's assume that you’re interested in Chemistry or Economics. One of the advantages of being a university student is the possibility of learning from professors who have actually had books published on the subject. Moreover, these professors may even be the country's renowned policymakers and award-winning scientists. This kind of mentorship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and should not be treated lightly.
Furthermore, the resources on campus, such as well-equipped laboratories, libraries, research centres, and networking events, can truly help you achieve success in your domain by encouraging you to publish research papers or work on global-scale projects. Therefore, a university is the best place to access invaluable academic resources.
Choosing a career path 👨⚕️
Some professions require students to have a certain degree or university experience before permitting them to work in the field. In fact, many jobs now have a minimum eligibility criterion of a Bachelor's/Undergraduate degree to even apply.
Additionally, some career paths unequivocally require a university degree. For example, suppose you want to be a doctor, engineer, vet, teacher, nurse, or other skilled professional. In that case, a university degree will help you gain the required skill set and competencies needed to enter these careers.
You can earn more! 💰
An investment in university education typically pays off. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, graduates will be £130,000 better off on average by going to university even after taxes, student loan repayments, and foregone earnings are considered compared to high school graduates.
Having a university degree often validates one's skills; recommendations from professors and mentors strengthen your value in the job market. In addition, there are accessible Career Services facilities in many universities that can guide you in applying for your first job and setting up a successful career for yourself.
Therefore, you can view the tuition as a safe investment. While university is definitely expensive, remember there are lots of pros too!
You can diversify your learning 🤓
The modern world is complex and requires a myriad of skills and learnings to stand out. The advantages of attending university include the ability to further your learning.
Universities will help equip you with many vital and transferable skills, which you can apply to any position you hold for the rest of your life.
Here are some transferable skills that most universities equip students with:
- Leadership skills
- Critical and analytical skills
- The ability to introspect
- Time management
For instance, if an employer is looking for a 'Project Management' role, you can bring the expertise and these soft skills you learned in university to the table. Moreover, competence in these soft skills tends to be an invaluable asset in a professional setting where people are constantly required to work collaboratively.
Similarly, exposure to different fields and ideas can help you explore your options and priorities in life. Since universities provide numerous areas to take classes in, you can discover your likes and dislikes and have the flexibility to change your career path according to where you find the most satisfaction.
Socialising and Networking 🤝
Networking is a must in today's world. From new jobs to partnerships and life-changing deals, networking truly helps students make the most out of all the resources available to them.
Universities are modern networking hubs; they are the best places to socialise, connect, and build long-lasting bonds with your classmates, professors, and alumni.
Moreover, the exposure to students from different backgrounds, cultures, cities, countries, and ideas is unparalleled. It can be a huge asset in the long run, providing you with a taste of the multiculturalism and diversity that the world has to offer. In addition, this exposure can help lead to multi-country deals and global-scale projects.
For example, suppose you want to be an engineer. In that case, you can surround yourself with other engineering enthusiasts, encouraging each other to learn and grow. Moreover, you can connect with your professors and take part in numerous projects and research opportunities.
These professors can further recommend you to their connections, leading to high-paying jobs. Having friends outside your designated area can also be one of the other benefits of attending university.
Maturing and becoming independent ✊
On the other hand, universities provide a much smoother transition. They help students mature while still ensuring their safety. Moreover, university is a safe place to explore.
Here, failures or experiments do not result in severe consequences like losing a job or a personal financial crisis. Students can take risks and be secure in the knowledge of their safety net and transition to adulthood within the framework of classes and projects that colleges provide.
Furthermore, many students live alone, either on or off-campus, once they are in university. This can be a significant change of environment, which teaches you to be more responsible about yourself and your commitments. In addition, the experience of independence can help you become a more strategic thinker who is accountable for your plans and actions.
Choosing universities 👀
If the answer to the question “is university right for me” is yes, it’s time to pick a university and a course. As much as it can be confusing to decide on going to university, it can be equally tough to decide which university to attend.
Suppose you have above-average grades and a variety of extracurricular activities. In this case, you can apply for Russell Group universities, the top research universities in the UK, like the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, etc. Such universities are well-reputed, highly prestigious, and provide world-class education.
However, other cities or polytechnic universities are no less. Universities are dynamic and can provide unique facilities. It is essential to research the university before applying. Here are some of the things that you can explore about the university:
- Tuition, scholarships, and financial aid
- Student support
- College life
Cons of attending universities 👎
So what are the pros and cons of university education?
There are many benefits of university education, but university is not for everyone. In fact, formal education institutions are simply not a good fit for some students. Students can take many other paths, which can entirely eliminate the need for university. Therefore, if you can relate to the following points, then maybe university isn't for you.
University is expensive
It can be argued that skill is what determines how much money you can make. Instead of university, you can always specialise in specific crafts by yourself or through apprenticeship programs and compete in the job market, thus preventing you from taking out massive student loans only to end up with a large amount of debt.
Less technical skills
While university can load you with many transferable skills, you might lack some of the more basic required skills in particular fields.
For example, if you are passionate about getting into the IT world, learning humanities subjects or non-practicable theories might not be in your best interests. Thus, even though you know these courses are of no value to you, college requirements might force you to attend these classes anyway.
Less short-term earning opportunities ☹️
If you want to earn as soon as possible, going to university might interfere with this goal.
The rigorous academics at most universities take up a large portion of their students’ time, leaving barely any time for you to simultaneously pursue employment opportunities.
On the other hand, options like apprenticeship programs allow students to earn and learn since they get direct exposure to their workplace. According to the Sutton Trust, those with a level 5 apprenticeship (or higher) are likely to earn more over their lifetime than graduates with a degree who go to non-prestigious universities.
Furthermore, while a university degree can help you become competent in the job market, it might not always guarantee you a job. If university isn't the right place for you to study your particular craft, this might be a huge disadvantage for you.
Time invested ⌛
Three to four years can make a massive difference in a student's life. If you aren’t interested in university or you feel that you’re better suited for other programs, going to university merely to follow the general trend can rob you of your valuable time.
Instead, perhaps you would be better off using this time to apply and work a full-time paid job that can help you gain more real-world experience.
What are apprenticeships? ⚒️🖥️
You don't have to go through the typical university experience to succeed in your plans and ambitions. Instead, apprenticeship programs are rising and are becoming more and more popular.
An apprenticeship program helps you simultaneously obtain a formal qualification and real-time work experience. Signing up for an apprenticeship program means you become an employee of the company and get paid as per normal standards. The company can help you directly by equipping you with all the necessary skills you require for the workforce.
There are over 1500+ apprenticeship opportunities on the government website, and many more companies are offering them. Here are some popular fields suited for apprenticeships:
- IT & Consultancies
- Science & Pharmaceuticals
- Government & Not for Profit
- Law / Solicitors
Going to university is a personal choice and is highly contingent on your plans and interests. Whether you go to university or not, there are always ample opportunities to help you achieve your goals. Good luck! We know you’ll make the right decision.