There is a lot of debate in the media as to whether university is worth what it is, mainly considering the tuition fees that seem to be increasing every few years, causing thousands of students to not attend merely because of the cost. University is not a crucial step in life that needs to be taken by everyone, there are plenty of ways to become a successful person but, as a young woman about to enter her second year, I believe that university is a path that students should all consider.
My first year at university was a busy one, read about my experience here, and something I noticed once I returned home for the summer, was that people I met were fascinated with the fact that I attend university. I found that I was quickly able to split the reactions into two separate categories. The first is shock, that I must be a smart person if I’m attending university, let alone studying law, and the second is horror. I do enjoy people thinking it’s appropriate to ask me how much debt I am in. How much debt are you in, Susan?
Granted, I am in debt. All students are. Despite this flaw in the system, I believe strongly that the cost of university should not put anyone off.
It’s a known fact that university is extremely expensive, discussed in the news on a weekly basis. The tuition fees, which rose from £6,000 to £9,000 in 2012, will be increasing again to £9,250 with the possibility of them rising again each year until 2020. In reality to tuition fees, the government issue this amount to all UK students, automatically charging you each year meaning you won’t actually receive this money. This is only paid back once you start earning a certain amount per year and, even then, you don’t pay it off in full. After 30 years, your entire loan is wiped so, in reality, you could get an expensive education and pay almost nothing in return.
The cost of the university lifestyle again is another factor that puts people off the idea of attending, especially students looking to live away from home like I do. I struggled a bit during my first few months, eventually learning to budget and put my money away, planning my meals while I did my weekly shop, and drinking my own alcohol before a night out, rather than spending too much in pubs.
I attended university at the age of nineteen, a year later than most, as I changed my A-Level subjects due to struggling to find a subject I enjoyed enough to get a degree of it. I finally fell in love with law, deciding to work for my degree in law. It can take a while to find a subject that you click with, so be patient with it and yourself.
Many young people don’t attend university purely because they are unsure as to what they want to study, and even where. The majority, if not all, universities offer open days that allow you to walk around campus, talk to current students and meet potential future lecturers. They are all there for you to ask questions, a great way to obtain different opinions on different subjects, helping you find out what subject is right for you. Additionally, some universities may offer taste sessions that allow you to sit in lectures and experience life as a student. I also have to quickly mention that The Student Room, which offers free accounts, is a popular website among students with plenty of forums to ask questions.
Being away from home for the first time can be a very daunting experience, especially for wallflowers. I was extremely shy before attending university but, after a few weeks of independence, I immediately transformed into a confident young woman. It’s important to remember that, despite the fact that people may seem more confident than you, that everyone is in the same boat. It can be tough leaving home for the first time but it has to happen at some point. Facebook offers a lot of Fresher pages that allow you to get in contact with other people starting the same university as you, as well as find your course mates and flatmates. I entered university already knowing my flatmates and my course mates, thanks to these Facebook groups.
Although many do, not all students live off instant noodles and pizza though, admittedly, I did take advantages of the Dominoes 50% student discount I received during Freshers week. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef at university in order to eat right. I only knew the basics but, over time, I found myself, learning how to cook more things. YouTube offers a lot of cooking videos that share easy ways to create delicious, cheap meals for students on a budget. I have some go-to recipes that take no time at all because, after a long day of lectures, no one wants to spend hours each day cooking.
University isn’t the only path in life but, as bias as this may be, I believe it to be one of the best. Not only are you gaining a degree, but you’ll gain independence, friends, memories, skills, and an experience of a lifetime.