Towards the end of sixth form – and I have to use a strong word here – I actually hated the pressure put on us about university and UCAS and results. How to alienate a doubtful student in one easy step!
I remember very clearly the end of my A levels and looking at what had once been ‘just a bedroom’ now covered by a mass of post it notes and binder folders. Pages and pages that had taken hours to write and even longer to digest, understand and perfect my exam technique with. What for, I started to question?
It was at that moment I knew I’d had enough. Not of learning but of studying in that way.
I had already been working in a retail Saturday job that allowed me to go full-time and where I quickly took on managerial responsibility. My initial plan was to give myself time and close no doors at this time of indecision. Work, earn some cash, travel for three months with great friends and then re-consider uni.
That plan changed when the sense of independence that buying a car, earning, and falling in love gave me totally changed my direction and made me realise that in order to find my real skill base and steer my future, I needed to think again. I was achieving more self satisfaction and direction working and learning new skills in a paid environment than I believed I ever could at uni.
Work has given me true ‘independence’ and flexibility in my life. Yes, I am restricted to holidays given by work but I’ve utilised every opportunity. I plan meticulously to ensure I utilise each period of leave with a new and, where I can, extended adventure. I’m not going to say I didn’t envy the freedom, parties and student life of my peers but I knew in my heart it wasn’t for me at that time.
Working has given me many things. Obviously, financial stability. I’ve still travelled a great deal. I’ve formed strong friendships. Kept in touch with my girl friends, although obviously that distanced while they did the ‘student’ thing and we are now all at differing stages of the next phase in our lives.
For me uni wasn’t the answer. I think all I would say to someone undecided at the end of A levels is, think very hard. Not about knowing what you want to do but ensuring you aren’t swept along by teachers, peers or parents into something you can’t visualise exciting you or giving you a real sense of pride and accomplishment in the future. Studying only pays off if your heart is in it, not the aspiration of others trying to influence you.
Self confidence and passion are the biggest keys we are, excuse the pun, ‘equipped’ with and personally I believe a happy person can make anything at all happen, with or without a degree.
I’m now about to move on to what is my third job role and who knows, maybe I will find myself studying at some point. The biggest thing I’ve learned is adaptability, how to problem solve, and never, ever to say never.