I've been wanting to write this for a while but I haven't known how to write it, or even really what to say on this topic. I don't want to put people off going, nor do I want to tell you it's the best decision ever.
Since I started my GCSEs at the age of about 15 I realised very quickly that exams, or learning in general, was not going to come easily. I had to work really hard for the grades I got, which is fine. I left school and moved onto sixth form having passed all my subjects. My first year of A Levels hit me so hard, I had failed all but one of my subjects. Which meant I had to pick up a lot more work in my second year. I finished sixth form with 3 C grades in Psychology, Finance and Philosophy and I was accepted into university to study Sociology.
I had never studied sociology before so I knew I was pushing it a bit to be doing it as a degree. I started my first term in September 2015 and everything seemed to come pretty easily. I wasn't struggling anywhere near as much as I thought I was going to. 3 years on I graduated with a 2:1, so was it worth it?
Debt. Debt is always the first thing people worry about when considering university. I kind of already knew I wanted to go, so the debt wasn't a major thing for me. I was also lucky enough to live at home which did cut costs. £9,000 a year is bloody expensive for a piece of paper, but honestly I think it was something I just accepted for what it was. Student loan is not a lot. You have to learn to manage your money, which can be hard if you've had to before. But its not impossible.
The work load is also hard, but not impossible. I would say it really helps if you love what you are studying, which I did. It made it so much easier for me to write essays about things I was genuinely interested in. In some ways I found the academic side of university a lot easier than my A Levels, which made me want to curl up into a ball and cry. I think the hardest part about the work load is the management. You have to be organised if you want to do everything. I live at home with my family so for me it was really important to separate family time, and time for me to write and work. In a lot of ways having spending time with my family and my boyfriend made things easier. I was surrounded by people who only wanted the best for me, which is really motivating.
In total honesty I kind of enjoyed the experience of university. I graduated in September 2018 and I was really hopeful. I had been accepted back to my university to study for my Masters, which I then dropped out of. (Theres a separate blog post about that). Although I stand by my decision of dropping out, I think I thought getting a job would be a hell of a lot easier than it has been. I dropped out in October and I'm still unemployed. Yet I have a degree.. Isn't that supposed to open so many doors for you? Apparently maybe it doesn't.
One thing I have found is that a piece of paper stating that you have a 2:1 in a degree subject does not mean everything. It needs to be more than that. I am not trained in anything, so a lot of jobs related to my degree I cannot do specifically. There are other degrees that are more related, for example degrees in Social Work, Counselling, Policing etc. These are all areas in which I'm interested in, and yes technically my degree does apply. But why would any social work agency hire a Sociology graduate over a Social Work graduate? They don't.
I had planned to complete my Masters in order to hopefully go into social research. Now I'm pretty stuck. I am still interested in this obviously, but its super competitive to get into. Plus I missed most graduate jobs for 2018 and they don't reopen till September 2019. This leaves me competing for non-graduate jobs. The problem with degrees is that they give you a lot of general information, a high standard of education but what they don't give you is specifics. Unless you do a degree in which you are trained to do something, you do not get this. Degree subjects such as Psychology, Sociology, History, Geography, Anthropology etc do not train you. They teach you. They allow you to do a lot of general jobs, and not very many specific jobs.
I think specifically for Sociology, it has taught me a lot. But it is not an academic subject in the same way Physics is. Sociology is applicable to real life, so in some ways I feel like I haven't learnt a lot. I always say that for a lot of the time my degree seemed like it was teaching me common sense alongside theory. I loved my degree and think its relevant so I want to use it. I want to be able to have a career in which my degree is the focus. A career in which employers focus on people's lives rather than profit. A career in which I can make change. Maybe that career doesn't exist yet, so maybe I need to make it for myself.
So the endgame is. If you want to go to university and you think it will benefit your career aspirations then go. But if it's not for you, then thats okay. University cannot teach or give you everything. Do not be disheartened if it doesn't work out. Make your career happen, with or without university.