I’m looking for someone to come along for the ride, not be the main attraction

– The Times Magazine, 11th February 2017

Original Writing

The University Challenge

I’ve been lucky enough to get a second chance at university, and a fair number of people have questioned why I even want to go back considering I’ve done a year and a half already and I have a full time job.

The answer is because I choose and want to. During my year and a half at Roehampton, I encountered an atrociously high number of students who were either only there for the “university experience” (in other words, getting drunk and living on campus away from their parents for the first time) or because they felt they had to. Not knowing what you want to do with your degree is okay, the same way doing a degree you’re not sure you want to specialise in is okay. What I find shocking is people coming to university and studying a subject they had no interest in, only to not turn up to lectures, refuse to do the work and to complain about not liking the subject. University is an investment for our future and for a few, it was wasted during the first year.

Growing up, the pressure to go to university was incomprehensible; after all, I did go to an all-girls private school. Back in high school, literature was the only subject I excelled at, so naturally I wanted to specialise in it. Unfortunately for me, my teachers only paid attention to the students who excelled in every single subject and were poster kids for the school. My English teacher was possibly the only person in my school to ever recognise my potential in the subject – her relentless encouragement and pushing me to be better is how I came to be the person I am today. She made me realise I had a talent all along, and it was worth pursuing. I guess we all need someone like that in life. Thanks, Mrs Nic.

A few years ago, when I was still in college applying for universities, my parents told me that I was under no pressure to go uni. From a cultural perspective, this was both a shock and a relief to me as during that time I was anxious about forthcoming exams and my health relapses. Furthermore, around this period I’d developed my eating disorder, so it was all a little traumatising, but knowing that there were alternative routes to achieving my goal took the weight off my shoulders. It made me realise that although a degree is a huge advantage when it comes down to looking for jobs, we don’t really need them in life. I look at my literature degree as a key to unlocking more doors, a stepping stone to reaching my goal as a publicist or as a teacher, I haven’t quite decided yet! But there are apprenticeships and internships out there which are just as valuable as degree, and offer more than a degree ever will in terms of experience.

The decision of whether or not to go to university is a challenge in itself. But it is one hell of an experience, and I cannot wait to do it all again this September.

I’m also desperately missing analysing Shakespeare and Milton in excessive depth. So September, you couldn’t get here quick enough.

A x