The Big Uni vs Work Debate

Those of you following me on Twitter may have heard me griping about what I’ll be doing with myself for the next year or so – that is, take up my place at QMUL this September or attempt to get journalism work experience.

This is something I’m genuinely confused by, and I’ve asked everyone around me for advice. In order to make sense of this feedback, including the excellent response I got through Twitter, I planned to make a list. I like lists.

That was until I spoke to @laurablackhall*. After 10 minutes of verbal diarrhea (from me, not her) she asked me this:

“Alex, if someone was to tell you that you could never go to university, how would you feel?”

And my response?

“I’d be devastated.”

Which is true. For many reasons, I’d feel upset and angry and cheated.

That little question really helped me to realise what it is I want to do – I do want to get a degree. Just not yet and probably not at Queen Mary’s.

So what’s the next step? With my internship at studentbeans.com ending in three weeks, I’ll be looking to get as much work experience as possible over the Summer. But I won’t be cancelling my place at QMUL until I’m totally sure what it is I’ll be doing.

If you have any advice/feedback or just want to say hi, drop me an @ reply on Twitter (I’m @alexsheppard).

*My name is Alex and I’m a Twitterholic

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4 thoughts on “The Big Uni vs Work Debate

  1. nondisbeliever says:

    On the one hand, rushing into a 3-year plus obligation to university, when it’s a course you aren’t sure you want to do, is a bad idea. It might be worth deferring for a year until you’ve had a bit more of a think, or you have more of an understanding about what you want to do. Otherwise, you might end up resenting your course and muddling through, which will result in a thoroughly unfulfilling experience.

    On the other hand, if you keep putting off university, you might end up letting yourself become complacent. Once you start ‘proper’ work you have independence, plus disposable income and the comfort factor which comes along with it. After that, it’s hard to get back into the education mindset.

    Ultimately, unless you want a career that unconditionally requires a university degree or equivalent, it isn’t essential that you go to university. It won’t make you any less of a person. University is a hell of an experience: a lot of fun and a LOT of pressure, and I’d recommend it to anyone. At the same time though, don’t make it something that you do for the sake of it. In the time you would have spent at uni, you could well have gotten yourself a three-year headstart in the career of your dreams.

  2. Dan says:

    Once you’re in work, that’s it, it’s that forever…(unless you suddenly earn a fortune and can go off travelling or whatever)…so if you don’t get that ‘dream’ job, you’ll have missed out on a good three years of fun / work / learning (the education side of university is a good reason to go to, I enjoyed almost all my lectures / seminars for the chance to talk about things in depth etc)

    You can go to university when you’re older, but it’s a completely different experience and one that’s harder to do if you have a good job and money etc

    plus…many universities offer subsidery modules in the first year; I went doing History, but in first year did Eng Lit and Ancient History too, enjoyed Eng Lit so switched to joint honour degree which was fantastic. You have plenty of options; it’s fluid, not static.

    Just my two cents. Speaking of money – you will get a big f-off debt out of it (which goes against Labour’s education x 3 stuff), but you know 99% of people are in the same boat so…

  3. Gary Andrews says:

    It’s such a tough decision to make, especially when you’ve had experience of the working world and enjoy it. Dan’s spot on that it’s quite hard to go back once you’ve been working for a while (although there were a fair few people on my course who started aged 22 / 23, so it’s not like people don’t go at that age). Weirdly, you may also find an increase in slightly old students as many decide to get a bit of capital behind them before going to university (that’s just a complete guess on my part though).

    The learning side of university is great and if you’ve got an interest in the subject, you’ll get to learn things you’d have never got the chance to before. Plus the social side is good, and if you’re going to university in a city you already live in, it won’t feel as lonely and you don’t necessarily have to spend all your time with 18-year-olds.

    I’d learn towards going, personally, but keeping your options open until the last minute. Something amazing may come up between now and September that’s worth deferring another year or two for.

  4. alexandrasheppard says:

    Sorry that I’ve taken so long to respond to your comments, but they were very detailed. That and I’m a horrible procrastinator, and this is scary :-s

    Thanks soooo much for your responses, you’ve all made some really good points that I’ve taken into account – it’s nice to have some insight from people who have already been there.

    But I think that if I was actually looking forward to this course at QMUL, I wouldn’t be having these doubts. The course just doesn’t excite me.

    So. I think I need to spend some time looking for a course that actually makes me look forward to going to university.

    Thanks again for awesome comments!

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