What University Has Really Taught Me

"University can teach you skill and give you opportunity, but can't teach you sense, nor give you understanding." 

Here I am, coming to the end of my final year at university. When people say that your time at university will be the best days of your life they're not kidding but, in many respects, uni isn't all it's made out to be - not really. In some respects it's better than you'd ever think, but in others, it may make you question why you came here in the first place.

Let's start with the £9,000.

This is a pricey amount for one year of education, let alone when you times it by three (or four) for you entire degree course. Luckily student finance are on hand to loan you this amount but is it really worth that money? Not that long ago a university education was free and job prospects were much improved by the help of a degree but now? Now you pay £27,000 for a certificate that doesn't really stand you that far ahead of a candidate that doesn't have one. I naively thought that going through university would see me with a definite career future ahead of me, but I'm still just as confused as I was when I started. I'm not, by any means, saying that my degree is worthless, I'm simply putting it into perspective - a degree that is as flexible as English Literature may ignite a passion within you and a drive to find a perfect job but, for many like me, we're potentially going to walk out of university and head straight back home - still hunting for a job and still unsure of what we want to do with our lives. That's okay though, you just have to bear it in mind. If you're after the university experience, a degree and the potential to land a really good job then it's a great thing to do but if you want to do it solely to land yourself a high-flying career you may want to rethink.

You'll come out of it a whole new person

Not in any bad way, but university will change you. You can't really be surprised, a lot happens over three years, especially when everything you experience is brand new and different to what you're used to. And most of these changes won't be world ending or life changing, they'll most likely be little tweaks to the existing you, for better or for worse (hopefully the former). It'll increase your confidence... up until now it's unlikely you've been thrown in at the deep end, never have you had a combination of moving out, living with strangers, not knowing anyone and independent study looming over you. It may sound daunting but it happens, you, miraculously, deal with it and suddenly you have the best flat mates ever, you have friends on your course and you might even cope with the workload (that's a big step, it may take a while)

The 'we'll keep in touch' lie

 When you leave sixth form and everyone says 'we'll keep in touch' that's probably a lie; but the good eggs stick around. In that respect, uni is perhaps a cleanse or a friendship spring-clean and, by the end of it, those left around are going to be stuck with you for the rest of your life - whether they like it or not. So, not only have I made great new friends over my three years at university, it's also helped me to appreciate my friends at home all the more.

It's what YOU make it

On the open days you'll be told about all these amazing opportunities that university can open up for you, but it's actually down to you to shape your university life the way you want to. Whether you want to join a society or not, friends will be the things that get you through university so get out there, make friends and enjoy your time. University alone won't guide you through it, to take advantage of these opportunities they tell you about you have to be proactive and efficient - for example, on my open days I was told the uni I was going to would get me onto all kinds of academic placements yet, when it came to it you had to do a combination of things in order to do this 1) choose the placement module 2) stick at the placement module 3) find your own placement with no help or guidance from the university, so suddenly these 'placement opportunities' are just fancy work experience. Yes, my placement taught me some incredible things and really helped me with my independence and confidence but it was definitely not the easy walk through the park that the university made it out to be.