Anonymous blogger who would still like to share their experiences.
*Please note views expressed are the blogger’s alone, we do not think university is a bad educational pathway*
Looking back I don’t regret going to university, however at the time I did feel like there were no other options. I felt education is so focused on certain pathways that it does feel like there’s no choice:
GCSE > A Level > Degree > Employment
At college I felt there was so much pressure of getting good grades to get into a university. It’s all anyone ever talked about or mentioned. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but a lot of students I’ve spoken too felt a similar pressure.
The reason I don’t regret going to university is because I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have had the amazing employment opportunities or career development.
University was advertised as an exciting, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where you make friends for life and become independent and get an amazing job at the end. Who wouldn’t want this right? Well the words ‘STUDENT DEBT’ come to mind. My parents always taught me to look at this debt like a tax, if you earn enough you will pay your student loan back, if you don’t then you won’t have to. This made the scary student loan idea a lot more manageable.
In my first year I remember the nerves and excitement I felt. I had found the perfect course which covered my love of tech and design and I couldn’t wait to learn and create memories. The thing with university is it is an experience. It’s not just going on an educational course. It’s living in student accommodation, living with a student loan, meeting diverse and different people. It’s your life for 3+ years in this bubble wrap of education.
I had such huuuge expectations and nothing added up to them. My general issues were:
My main problem was that I’m not a drinker, I’m not keen on alcoholic drinks. I like the odd cocktail and fruity cider but student life revolved so much around alcohol it ruined a lot of experiences for me.
I lived in on campus halls accommodation sharing with 6 other students. These were lovely people, but they liked to party and made the most of freshers week and first year(I don’t blame them at all btw!). They had a lot of pre-drinks in our flat, and eventually our flat become the party-flat of the whole halls! This meant when I didn’t go clubbing with them I’d be disturbed by drunken people a lot, banging on doors, shouting, loud music. I wouldn’t have minded if it was once a week or so, but this became almost every night. My lack of sleep drastically affected my mood and my enjoyment of uni itself. After about 3 months of this my mental health was severely effected.
Rather than that, I was moved out of halls into a studio flat to see if this would help.
I loved hockey! I used to represent my county playing it, so I was excited to join the hockey team. I loved the sports club, however I wasn’t keen on the social aspects of it (socials & going out). However, the less I took part in the socials the less I felt like a true member of the team. When we played matches against other unis/clubs there would be penalties related to drinking. So if the ball hit your foot during the game that would equal half a pint, and there’d be someone on the sidelines creating tallies for everyone. Then the next social you would have to drink your penalties. I couldn’t believe how evolved around alcohol a sports club was. A SPORTS CLUB. I understand it’s a uni one, but by not wanting to drink and having anxieties about going out meant I didn’t feel comfortable playing a sport I loved. To this day this thought still makes me sad. It’s now been 3 years since I’ve played hockey as that memory has affected my feelings towards it to this day.
Relating to point 1, the people in my flat were lovely and we got on. However after all the parties and when I left their flat, I lost all contact. I was too anxious to tell them I was struggling and that I was moving out so I left a note (which was the worst decision!). Therefore I lost the friends I was meant to make for life. My course mates were also lovely, but as soon as uni ended people moved and we lost touch.
*Disclaimer: I’m a nerd. I always want to achieve the top grades, and I work days and nights to get them.*
My first year wasn’t as hard educationally as I expected. It didn’t feel like a step-up from college but more a step backwards. The thing is, first year has people from all courses and backgrounds joining so they’ve got to start from scratch with most things. However, for me this was boring, I wasn’t challenged, I didn’t have a grade to work towards as it was rather easy to get a good grade when you already knew and understood the topics.
My other struggle was group work. When forced in a group you can’t chose who to work with meaning it was tough. I’ve experienced groups where students never showed up to uni, students never did any work, students said they’d do something then let you down, students claimed the work you did is theirs, students who were happy to just pass. Therefore, me wanting to get nothing but a first struggled to cope with everyone’s differences. I would in some cases work 3 peoples roles to make sure my group got a 2:1 / 1:1. I couldn’t understand why students at university didn’t work hard. (I’m not saying nobody worked hard by the way! Just 60% didn’t!)
When I started university I was a quietly confident individual. I was happy to socialise and go to new places/groups alone. After it I felt I had to re-build that confidence. I now really struggle with small social tasks, presentations, meetings and phone calls. I do ‘blame’ university as before it nothing phased me, and after, all these anxieties have cropped up. I wanted to reach out during my struggles in uni, but I always felt someone needed the help more. I didn’t want to be ‘selfish’. There was no easy way to reach out either, expect for going into a support centre which was overly daunting. So I never received help and never improved my anxieties.
I also thought by the end of university I’d be a similar but different person. However, I was already independent before I went, I was already driven, a hard-worker. I don’t think if I’d not have gone to university I’d have lost anything other than achieving a degree.
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