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Opinion | Attending university may no longer be the favourable option post-school

Heading to university after secondary school has always been the popular option. Sofia Webster weighs in on whether she thinks this choice is still favourable nowadays.

By Sofia Webster, Co-Deputy Film and TV Editor

University has been, for a long time, the most popular option when choosing a path to progress on once students finish traditional schooling in the UK. Around the world however, this is not so often the most popular path as, in some areas, options like apprenticeships or immediate employment are more favoured. Therefore I believe it is worth investigating whether university is still the right choice for all, as it is often deemed to be in the UK. Some argue that university does not offer the same advantages for a career that is once did years ago, and thus does not prove as useful in terms of social mobility and networking, due to the abundance of career paths one can now take after turning 18.

When my parents’ generation were at university, I feel it was a much less common choice for people despite the fact that tuition fees were non-existent, compared to now where those that do go to university typically have to be in a much more privileged position than those who went years ago. The reality, that many more people achieve an undergraduate degree than 20 or 30 years prior, directly correlates to the reason why the process of getting a degree does not reap the same benefits it once did. Yet many of the most well-paid jobs require a degree in order to apply, as showing you have obtained an academic qualification proves to employers that you have a hard-working and diligent personality which reflects your skills in a good light ahead of starting a career.

In our modern society, there are so many different career paths one can take – and it is necessary that all roles be filled for our society to flourish. It is typical for more corporate jobs, like those in sectors such as marketing, media, finance and secretarial roles, to require an academic degree as a means for showing diligence, a hard-working character and the general ability to learn and develop to a high and reputable standard. Other job roles, such as lawyers or doctors, directly require an academic certificate to be able to obtain the job in the first place, therefore for these vocational jobs, going to university is and will always be the right choice for these chosen careers.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

In more ways than one, going to university is a massive privilege. To be able to (one day) pay tuition fees, undertake maintenance loans and fund the excess finances on top of this is a huge implication to deal with, and for many, attending university is ruled out as a result of the financial burden that can be placed on people. On top of this, the experience of being at university and fending for oneself is a responsibility and offers life experience that is challenging and therefore may not be right for everyone, particularly those that struggle with daily responsibilities or those at risk of homesickness. Many will also be subject to stay at home instead of moving away for university as a result of health circumstances, amongst other things.  

In the current cost of living crisis, the financial burdens imposed on students are more prevalent than ever, which raises the important question of whether going to university is as sensible a decision as it used to be. This is especially prevalent when comparing to options like degree apprenticeships, which offer financial rewards instead of burdens since you receive an income alongside completion of your studies.

When looking at social mobility, university can be the necessary pathway to achieve one’s dream career whether that be a doctor, lawyer or similar professions. However, today many vocations also do not require a degree in order to gain employment, especially if you can show an element of drive and determination through your accomplishments and in your personality that would be needed to achieve an undergraduate degree to an impeccable standard.

Overall, I do believe that going to university offers valuable life experience and is not just about the degree certificate every student receives at graduation. It is also about learning to look after yourself; how to cook yourself meals even after a long day of lectures and even take care of yourself when you are bed-bound with fresher’s flu. It is an opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself consistently. However, like with everything, there is no right choice for everyone. With different people aspiring to have different career paths and life trajectories, taking routes that do not head to university after school will be the most suitable choice for many people for various social, emotional and financial reasons.

Featured Image: Daniel Hutton

Do you think attending university is still favourable amidst all of the other options? Let us know @epigrampaper