My sister will be 24 in October, and for the first time she’s thinking about going to university. She wants to be a dietician.
Knowing the nutritional value of foods is something of a hobby of hers. It’s a bit of a family joke recently that she’s gone barmy for avocados. This means we’ve been eating avocados on toast, in salads, and even in desserts (which surprisingly is a lot better than it sounds).
In September she’ll start her A-levels in science subjects which will enable her to start at university and I’m really happy and excited for her.
She’s been nervous and was almost completely put off from doing further studies due to the cost of a university education. £30,000 of debt combined with the fact that she’ll have to leave her current job and income has made it a difficult decision for her.
I have been thinking a lot recently whether studying at university is worth the hefty price tag. I have friends from school who chose to start working straight from school. Many of them are supervisors or managers, have secure and well-paid jobs and are already paying into a pension scheme. I also have friends who started university with the best intentions and didn’t finish their course, either due to failing their exams or due to personal problems.
There’s also the quite frustrating fact that at 22, I’m still as poor as I was at school. I can’t be very generous at Christmas or at birthdays. My friends who work full-time sometimes don’t understand that ‘I can’t afford it’ isn’t merely a lame excuse.
My own experiences have also given me a slightly bleak outlook. I started university in 2011 at the University of Bristol, and although I passed all of my exams, I wasn’t emotionally prepared enough for university. I found it difficult being a 4-hour-coach journey away from home and I suffered from low moods and loneliness. This lead me to put my studies on hold, have a year out and eventually transfer to Leicester, which was the best decision I could have made.
Despite this, I can honestly say that going to university is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s given me incredible experiences, pushed me to do things, go places, and meet people that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do otherwise. I would have never had the guts to get on a plane to Colombia if it wasn’t for the fact I had to do it to get my degree. I’ve learnt valuable, tangible skills.
The best advice I could give to anyone is to take your time. There is no rush to make a decision on whether to study at university or not, whether you’re 24 like my sister, or 102, it’s never too late!