University is not for everyone
University the experience of a lifetime: A time of opportunity, of living, and of finding yourself, a time to be carefree and to frolic in newly found independence. It’s a time of moving on, and stepping away from the child and beginning to shape the adult.
At this time of the year papers, websites, blogs and magazines are awash with articles about making the transition from home to living the life of a student; covering everything from what to wear to what to cook, from how to finance university to how to fit in, from taking risks to being safe. Pretty much regardless of subject area, a browse through any newspaper or search engine will deliver the goods on what you need to know.
I never went to university, and not through want of trying either. Aged sixteen my eyes were firmly focused on being that person in two years time who fully tested their body to the extremes in alcohol consumption and lack of sleep, who would endeavour to journey through university with minimal debt, but with as many memories as possible, and would somehow graduate with an honours degree thanks to crammed revision techniques and the hope of some natural intelligence: It never happened.
Every year, for the past four years, come August, September, October that familiar sense of dread creeps up, the thoughts of what could have been, as the papers once again become packed with glowing students embarking on the next stage of their lives, my facebook becomes a wall of A-level successes and university places achieved, and more recently photos of graduating friends appear. Yes, I am happy for them, but I am no saint, I can’t deny the envy that I feel, the longing it was me, and the overwhelming sense that yet again I have been left behind.
Very rarely do people talk about the transition that the group of people that I’ve become a part of make every autumn, the transition of adapting to not being a part of society’s “norm”. For many, university is not the place to be, it can be a choice made that is right for them, while for others it’s a matter of circumstance; maybe not getting the grades or perhaps not being well enough.
I have never been comfortable with the fact university has yet to happen. Despite the countless times I have been told that “I’m still young”, that “there’s no age limit on university”, and that “it is not the only way to have a career” it is still a subject that is raw, and it’s still an experience I feel to have missed out on. Yes, over the past few years I have had many unforgettable experiences, I have created many memories and I have found plenty of friends that I know I will hold on to for life. I also acknowledge that I have truly tested my body’s ability to withstand storms, to function on practically no sleep, and to survive on a diet that strays somewhat from government guidelines, but it was hardly in the fashion I envisaged at sixteen, and it is hardly a passage of growth I would recommend.
So, what then is the point of this blog, why am I writing it? Well, mainly to go some way in recognising that not everyone is able to go to university. That despite the multitude of articles published there are still thousands of young people that are not headed in that direction. Choice or no choice the reality is that there is a transition, and a new path made by pretty much every young person at this time of year. As friends move away, new courses begin and new life styles take root. It is often those left with least change that find it hardest to adapt but are also the ones left with minimal support.
The truth is university isn’t “the experience of a lifetime: a time of opportunity, of living, and of finding yourself, a time to be carefree, and to frolic in newly found independence. It’s a time of moving on, of stepping away from the child and beginning to shape the adult”. Life is that, and maybe sometimes we should emphasise the importance of the transition through life, as opposed to just the transition to university.