Is university right for me?

This is obviously an incredibly personal decision, which for some students will be fairly straightforward to make and for others will involve a lot more thought and reflection. What is true is that this pathway is not for everyone, and there are several myths surrounding university that can sometimes lead students to make the wrong choices. Whatever path your child chooses, the most important thing is that it leaves them feeling happy and fulfilled, and that they were able to reach their full potential. Here are a few things to consider about choosing university: 

Managing Independent Study

University study can be a shock for some students when they find that they are expected to manage and schedule their time independently. Sixth Form offers students more freedom, but there are still clear boundaries and expectations in place. At university, contact time is often greatly reduced, particularly on arts degrees. Students find themselves with a lot more free time, and it can be very tempting to fill this with television watching and gaming, if you do not have a schedule in place. I often found the best way to combat this was to go and do my work in the library each day, thus physically removing myself from potential distractions and creating a clear working day. 

Some people find it hard to motivate themselves without the sense of accountability that subject teachers often create. The relationship with university tutors is very different to that of school teachers, and whilst they are there to help and support, they will not hold a student’s hand through the course either! Students have to be proactive when it comes to seeking support. Tutors see students far less often than school teachers and will not always be aware of struggles their students are facing unless they come and ask for help. 

This does not mean your child cannot thrive in this environment, and most students will learn to adapt as time goes on. However, it is worth making sure that they are aware that university is not an extension of sixth form, and they will need to change their expectations. 

Choosing a course wisely

Every year, there will be students who begin a degree course, only to realise that they have made a mistake in terms of subject choice. It can feel very overwhelming to move from three or four subjects down to just one, so it is vital that your child does as much research as possible into their chosen course. The focus of a subject at university level can feel very different to the content of the A Level course and sometimes your child may be moving to a new subject such as Law. For example, in English Literature, students are expected to read at least one text a week, unlike A Level where it is more like a text each half term. Being able to read quickly is a vital skill that can be overlooked for this course. Looking at what the course covers and thinking about the units of study will help your child to avoid the disruption of switching courses in the first few weeks. 

Paying for the degree

Understandably, this is a big obstacle for many students. The debt of tuition fees can follow students for many years afterwards, and it is also important to ensure that they will be able to afford the cost of living whilst they are at university as well. If they are going to have a part time job to help them manage, they need to think about how they will balance this alongside their studies as well. They may be better off doing a part time degree, to ensure it does not become too much and lead to burn out. 

There are funding opportunities out there but a lot of time these are not well known, so it is worth doing some research into what is out there in terms of scholarships. You can also get sponsored by a company to do a degree, often in exchange for going to work for them for a certain amount of time afterwards. And of course, there is also the option to take a gap year and earn money during this time as well. 

Job Prospects 

This is often many students’ biggest incentive for wishing to go to university. There are careers where it is essential to have a degree, but students may be surprised to learn that there are other routes into many professions. For example, it is possible to become a lawyer through the apprenticeship route. If your child has a particular profession in mind, it is worth exploring all different routes, and evaluating if university is the correct route for them. I know many incredibly successful individuals who did not go to university. 

The world is constantly changing, and just because a degree was considered necessary in the past to succeed, it does not mean this is the case now. Everyone needs to make the choice that is right for them, and not worry too much about what others say they “should” do. 

The choices we make when we are young do not have to define the rest of our lives. Many people decide to retrain in later life, and are not beholden to the decisions they made when they were eighteen. Having said that, three years is also a long time to be stuck on a course that does not inspire or fulfil you, so it is worth taking time to research and think about this decision. At least then, even if you later go down a different path, you will go into it with your eyes open, having considered all the different options. 

Bright Sky Tutoring offers secondary English tuition, including A Level. To find out more about how we can inspire your child, get in touch at jo@brightskytutoring.com or book a free 15 minute consultation at https://ciguoskdvjzyoduifg.10to8.com

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