After reading Hannah Fearn's article on the Telegraph's website entitled ' What I wish I'd known before I went to University', I feel a mixture of relief, reassurance and enlightenment.
As I embark on my third and final year of university education this September; I find that much of Hannah's research into what students wish they'd known before they began a full-time degree is very much in accordance with the experiences I've had so far, and the things I wish I'd known in hindsight.
The first two things on her list are probably the most important when considering the 'real world' and the reality of kick starting your career: "an internship is more valuable than a bar job", and "hone your business acumen outside the lecture halls". It's common knowledge that students are not among the most affluent in society, so most of us are either in part-time jobs or looking for part-time jobs to hold alongside our studies in order to earn some extra cash. Despite being warned by our lecturers that part-time jobs may jeopardize our studies, we continue to seek them because we panic about not being able to afford bills or have a good enough cash flow to keep up socially with some of our better off friends. In the heat of the moment these seem like really good reasons to keep at it, but in reality we're not doing much for our future. Yes, money is good to have, but money comes easily and goes easily and the fact is money cannot buy you a job post-degree. So unless you're on the edge of becoming bankrupt, start looking at internships and work placements instead of a part-time position doing something that won't benefit your career. You might not be getting paid for it, but you'll be enriching your knowledge of an industry, and absorbing the reality of working life outside of full-time education, picking up skills and knowledge that simply cannot be taught in a seminar or lecture.
The final item on Hannah Fearn's list is "University is not the only option". As the saying goes, 'last but not least', and this piece of information is incredibly vital for those looking at going to university, or those who simply feel they've made the wrong choice by going. I personally chose to go to university because I never imagined anything else for myself. From a young age I knew I'd finish secondary school, go on to complete my A levels then progress to a full-time degree and then go onto the working world. That was the plan I had for myself, it never differed, it never changed, it just seemed the natural thing to do. Now I'm at university, I can't argue with my plan, it's worked so far despite my expectations of university being completely different to the reality. For some people the reality can be too much and they don't feel happy or comfortable being away from home, studying their chosen subject or being surrounded by hoards of strangers on a daily basis. To anybody who is at university but has every fiber of their being screaming against it, don't stay. You really do not have to stay if you're not happy. There are many more options available and you should never feel like you're being forced to be somewhere and do something that has a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Everybody is different and that is what the makes the world intensely interesting!
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