Thinking About: Was University Worth It?

It’s been a year now since I had my final exhibition at university, and sort of ‘officially’ finished, so I figured I’d have a little ramble about life during university, and life after university. I apologise now, because it will definitely be a ramble… I just needed to put thoughts into words, and well, I hope it helps some of you. The experience is never what you’d expect!

Is University Worth It? |

Okay so, the main reason for university: the degree. I have a degree, and I’m happy I have that degree. It has definitely gotten me to interviews and given me something to talk about and to share experiences. With that degree comes costs. And lots of debt. I was one of the unfortunate ones who started the year the costs went up (I did a third year at college, so I was a year late technically!) but I was also fortunate in that each year only cost £7800 rather than the full £9k.

That debt wasn’t the one that worried me though – we all know that most people will not pay off that student debt. My problem was the living costs. My maintenance loan just covered my accommodation (and didn’t even get that far in my third year!) so I basically lived in an overdraft, and I had a part time job. It was crap, I’m not gonna lie. I was doing almost every weekend and struggled to get time off – especially around Christmas. I loved my workmates though, they were amazing. But, on the flip side that job gave me some actual working experience, something which I didn’t have from my university course.

That’s the thing. If you don’t go to college/university, you’ve probably been working full time for a few years, have paid experience and have money to spend. (Maybe?) I’ve always thought that those working straight from school will be better off sooner, but those who do go to university will obviously get more qualifications and should land higher paid jobs in the future. It isn’t always the case, and I think we’re seeing more of that now. I wouldn’t judge anyone for their decisions around education, because that kind of setting is just not for everyone. It was definitely me though.

I’d been in my overdraft right up until I got my second job this year. Now I’m well over it, and not looking back. Once you’re in there, it’s hard to get out. Just keep at it and you’ll do it. My bank is actually switching today, and that overdraft option will be gone forever! (Hopefully) It’s so good to see your balance finally on the right side, and with money to spend!

Is University Worth It? |

So yeah, then we get onto experience. When I left university, I struggled finding a job. I was home mid-July, I did 8 weeks expenses paid at an e-commerce company and then managed to get a part time job in November. I found that jobs in shops (for which I had experience for?!) were ignoring my CVs or I was ‘overqualified’, and then those at media companies I was getting the interviews but in the end wasn’t qualified enough for. I actually had quite a few interviews and they all said they liked my CV, but I’m thinking that those with actual marketing degrees had the better chance. It makes total sense. I was at a loss.

My degree isn’t totally related to what I’ve ended up wanting to do. If you choose a course with actual placements, you’re golden, but I wasn’t given the option of taking any professional experience. That was a definite downside to my course. That’s why I’ve been putting so much more effort into my blog over the past 6 months – if you ever wonder whether to put your blog on your CV, my answer is YES! I’m pretty sure that knowledge and passion, as well as me studying to degree level is what got me my current Web Content Assistant job. (which I’m part-time at, alongside the cinema job)

Is University Worth It? | Living independently and having so many experiences. This is what made university for me. At first, I hated being away from my mum, I really did. I missed sitting in the living room with her and watching tv. But I grew to love it. I loved living ‘on my own’ (meaning, with 5 others) and I loved buying my own food, making my own meals and doing whatever I wanted. (meaning, not much) I met some great girls at uni and I still talk to them. Yeah, we had horrible flatmates. We had the dirty ones, we had the crazy ones, we had the smelly ones… Some were pretty awful, but I dunno, I feel like now I can look back and think oh actually, it didn’t ruin the year.

I’ve also travelled to various places whilst at university. Most of them in England/Scotland, but I got myself out to Finland and damn, that was incredible. I wouldn’t have even dreamt about sleeping in a hide waiting to photograph bears if I hadn’t gone to university.

My confidence grew over the three years. I could speak to new people, I managed to do presentations without stuttering my way through (though still kinda quick), I volunteered at different events, I slept outside, I photographed stars, I joined a running club, I produced work that I was actually proud of.

Over the past year, since graduating, the question ‘was university really worth it?’ ran through my head many times. When I was unemployed, with nothing appearing, when I was getting just 10 hours a week at work, when I got knocked back again and again with media jobs. Was each year worth £7800? No, probably not. To be honest, I don’t feel like I learnt that much at university about my subject. What I did learn was about myself, and to me, that makes it all worth it.

Would I do it all over again? You bet I would.
  • If I hadn’t graduated over four years ago, I honestly think this post would have made me cry. I struggled so much with leaving university – suddenly good grades and course engagement didn’t mean anything, and shop jobs I had years of experience for wouldn’t give me a call back because I was ‘overqualified’, while graduate roles said I didn’t have enough experience. I was unemployed for over six months and it was one of my lowest points. I was lucky enough to get placed on a work placement which, through the contacts I made, led to my current role. It was tough and definitely wasn’t the golden ticket to success which it was promised to be, but I agree with you that if I could do it again, I would – there’s no other experience which compares to it, and I’ll never regret the relationships I made or the things I learned about myself while I was there.


    • It really is horrible when you’re in that situation isn’t it? Thanks for sharing! I’m glad to see you feel the same way about it!

  • Maia Moore

    So much stuff in here that I agree with.
    I was lucky in that I didn’t have raised fees so only have about £20000 of debt (feels weird saying ‘only’ about that amount of money!) It did take me over a year to get out my student overdraft though, but a lot of that probably had to do with doing a self funded MA course after my undergrad.
    I did find a lot of my friends who didn’t go to uni had better jobs as they had more work experience, whereas I only had some terrible part time jobs. I struggled to find work despite having two degrees and ended up doing something unrelated to my course, though luckily I’m really happy there.
    I do think the degrees helped me to get my first job but I think I could have got it easier if I’d had better work experience.
    On the flip side, uni was an absolute blast and I wouldn’t change a thing. I learnt a lot, experience some wonderful things and also met my now husband there so can’t complain too much!
    Really enjoyed this post, it’s made me want to write my own now!

    • Yeah, the work experience bit really is a negative to university. Thanks for sharing! If you do write a post, I’d love to read it! (: x

  • I’ve been thinking of doing a similar post myself for a while, but I definitely agree with you on most points. I’ve loved my time at uni, and whilst I may be pretty broke and not get a job in the field I technically studied, I wouldn’t switch my time here for the world.

    • It seems like a lot of people feel the same actually. Glad I’m not alone! x

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