University is an opportunity that I personally decided to pass up at 19 when I finished my A level exams in England. Mainly because I had a strong desire to pursue performing, a career path that i didn’t necessarily need to go to university to dig into. Low and behold I went on a random 9 week backpacking adventure through South East Asia 6 months later which opened me up to a whole new world, which in turn led me to where I am now.
Read more about how my career has unfolded here.
Though I cannot speak from personal experience, University is responsible for shaping an insane amount of lives and i’m sure is an adventure many of you guys are on or are about to embark on. Hence you being here and reading this now.
I can imagine though, University isn’t without its ups and downs, challenges and more. Just like any life changing experience, there will be moments where you question why you started in the first place. But again, like with any life changing adventure, you’ll never regret it.
I’ve asked Where’s Mollie editor and writer Shannon to step in and help me on this topic…
I’d wanted to go to university since I was really little. And I’m so glad I did – I had the best time!
I learned so much about my field (linguistics), myself, friendships, and life itself. The experience changed me – I became more confident, stronger, and learned more about who I really am.
If you are certain that you want to study, I’d absolutely recommend doing the research to choose the right course, and then packing up your things and going to university. You won’t regret it!
All through school we are told what to study. Then I had to apply for university… and I got to choose anything I wanted! It starts with the course that you choose, and then the more you progress through your degree the more choice you will have in terms of modules, assignments, dissertation topics, and specialisations.
It’s ok to realise part way through your degree or module that perhaps it’s not for you.
In my first year, I was studying French and Greek studies in central London. After a few months it became apparent that I hated the long commute (I couldn’t afford to live on campus), and preferred learning languages and studying linguistics to learning about culture, architecture and history (all parts of my degree).
I spoke to the university, and quit.
It was a hard decision, but I learned a lot from it.
Mainly, I learned that it was ok for things not to go to plan.
I spent the summer doing research, and found a university where I could afford to live nearby (goodbye commute) and I studied linguistics (what I had discovered I actually liked!). It all worked out in the end, despite the tears, stress, anxiety and drama.
I don’t regret doing a first year that I didn’t like, because I learned that I didn’t like it. Make your ‘mistakes’ into learning opportunities, because learning what you dislike is as important as learning what you like.
Anyone with these tendencies will know how impossible this sounds! But it’s for your own sanity. I spent far too long trying to do everything perfectly, when actually just trying my best would have been enough. It is exhausting being a perfectionist. In many degrees at university, 60% (2:1) is an amazing score… but to a perfectionist, it’s so far off 100%! You have to learn to make everything relative, to learn that your best is enough, and to learn that spending hour upon hour editing that assignment might not make a massive difference. It’s still something I’m learning to do in the big wide world of work, but I’m getting there!
You are enough!
I was always independent as a teenager, but with Mum at home to help me, I never had to take complete responsibility for myself. At university I had to learn to manage my finances, my time, look after my health, well-being and diet – all things you don’t learn at school. To be honest, I don’t think you learn these things until you’re thrown in the deep end and have to do it yourself. But don’t worry, if you get stuck, most universities have great support systems, and there’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone to call Mum and ask for your favourite recipe or how to iron that difficult shirt.
I loved netball when I was at school. I’d played since I was 7, but moving to Greece meant that I couldn’t play anymore. Going to university meant that I had time to join a netball club, and I got to rediscover my love for the sport! The same thing happened when I rejoined a choir at university.
Make time to do extra-curricular things you love, as well as finding the time to study!
As corny as it sounds, I have made friends with people that I’m still in touch with years after graduating, and that I plan on staying in touch with for even longer! Finding people with common interests is a great way to start – your course, your sports club, or your society. If you’re lucky, you’ll also randomly be thrown into a house / dorm with people you really hit it off with – so keep an open mind!
People you call your besties might not stay that way forever.
Boys that say they really like you might not mean it.
Sure, these things can end up beautifully, and if they have done for you, appreciate the good people you have in your life! But it doesn’t always end up that way. Personally I found falling out or “breaking up with” some of my closest friends one of the hardest things about university – even harder than having to get over a boy that I liked. But learning these lessons is all part of growing up and no matter how hard it is at the time, it makes you stronger. Surround yourself with good people and things that make you happy, have a good cry about it, and work back towards being yourself again.
University isn’t just lectures and partying. Being part of a choir gave me the chance to participate in a national competition, where we came second. My degree gave me the chance to take an extra module and become a qualified English teacher – a qualification I couldn’t do my current job without. The networking opportunities with important people in your field are also worthwhile. Squeeze every ounce of juice you can out of your university experience!
Before university, I was very quiet, didn’t say much, and very introverted. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m the opposite, but I feel much more confident talking to people I don’t know, and more confident in myself and my abilities. I’d still say I’m an introvert, but I’ve learned to be more extroverted when required. I feel like a completely different person now, for the better!
And I’d do it all again if I could! The first year in London was tough, but once I moved to Portsmouth, I never looked back and loved every second.
What were your university highlights? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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