How to get the best out of Uni (or not)

what to do after a levels. what now, should i go to uni, life help, career advice, education advice,

I wanted to write this post ever since I saw Zoe's 'Is university the right choice for me' post about her experiences there, and with A Level results having come out yesterday I feel like now is a good time to share my thoughts. I'm from the same town as Zoe, and like her I felt so much pressure to take the university route. Even at GCSE level, I felt pressure to go to one of the two colleges available to me because it was such a high standard and I was 'lucky' to have gotten in. I didn't stop to think about which college was actually right for me which immediately set me down the wrong path. Although I got great grades at GCSE, I never really felt like I was properly an academic person,

I felt I could identify more with social and creative learning. So being stuck in a college, completely immersed in a tradition of books, classically 'academic' subjects and ridiculously high grade expectations was completely stressful to me. I started down a road of applying to study media production, but it all got too much for me and I dropped out with 5 months to go to work full time at Gap. My parents were incredibly annoyed, and no one could believe I'd given up with so little to go - ruining my chance at Uni or a career ... Or so I'd thought. It's taken me a long time to get myself pointing in the right direction and I've learnt a lot I wish I'd known back then so I thought I'd share some of that in case it helps any of you.

There are other ways to get to where you want to go
After a couple of years of working in retail then hospitality whilst applying for endless entry level media jobs in London I convinced myself it was my education holding me back but really I wasn't doing anything to give myself an extra edge. Particularly if you want a job in a competitive industry such as media, intern culture is very big and a lot of companies find that work experience much more valuable than any degree. If I knew this at the time, I would have used time living at home where I could afford to be on a lower wage to get my foot in the door. Research careers around your interests because there could be jobs you didn't even know existed, and really think about what you would be happy to do day in, day out. I found it helped to talk to people who are doing what I want to do, and finding out what they did to get there so you know what is essential and what is just a bonus. Whatever you do, it's so important to make sure you are making the best use of your time if you want things to happen. If I'd have spent that time doing work experience, starting a blog, really immersing myself in the area I wanted to be instead of just expecting a job to come because I wanted it to then I really believe I could have got to where I wanted to be without my degree.

Whatever you do, do it for yourself
To coincide with my 'I need to go to uni' panic, my boyfriend at the time back in 2010 was also planning on going back after a placement year where he'd been living at home. We knew we weren't good long distance which worried me, so when looking into Uni's I only looked within a certain time frame of his (Bournemouth) which made my choices very limited. Of the few there were in that area, without A-Levels I only got into one. Without researching the place, the culture and town I blindly accepted and ended up spending 3 years in a town I hated. If I'd have chosen for myself I'd have been sure to choose a vibrant, lively town with better travel connections and work opportunities. So whether it's choosing a job, a new place to live or a uni - make sure it's for you. In years to come that person might be a stranger to you (they are to me) but your choices stay with you.

Be fearless
Again this applies whether you're going to uni, travelling or going out to work - you will only regret the things you didn't do. For the aforementioned reasons, my uni didn't have enough halls to house even half of its freshmen students and so I ended up living in a house with people I had nothing in common with for three years. Although living situation has a lot to do with how you make friends at uni, there are ways around it. Join a society, strike up a conversation, explore your interests and you will make just as many great friends. Become a 'yes man' (see the Jim Carrey film) and you will have so many great memories with people. No great story ever started with you sitting in your pajamas watching Netflix... I wish I'd have done more of this all the way through because the end of uni became a very lonely time for me.

Nothing is undoable
This relates to another mistake I made when deciding to go to university - my course choice. Due to the rejection I'd suffered trying to get into the media industry, I was really lacking confidence when I decided to study. I convinced myself that any job I wanted to do was far too competitive and I wouldn't stand a chance. Where I would have originally studied. media production, fashion marketing etc I actually opted to study English and Theology (!) because I thought despite the fact that I really don't like children or schools I should be a teacher because there was an easy route to it. If I'd have had the confidence to pursue and really understand the industries I was interested in, I would have chosen much differently. Something clicked after my first year and I started believing in myself. Someone has got to make it, there is no reason it can't be you. I changed course to study English and Media instead which was much more aligned with my goals and my grades went up. Believe you can do anything, and that things can be undone if you change your mind.

There's more I could say specifically about the uni experience but I think that's enough for one day. I hope my examples can show you why those four things are so important to keep in mind. Whatever you're planning on doing with your results,  if you have any, remember that whatever is or isn't on that paper doesn't have to define you. As long as you have confidence in yourself, take chances and work hard you can get to where you want to be. I'm now working in marketing for a recruitment website, and although it's not exactly where I saw myself - I'm on the right path with a steady job and a salary - something which seemed so distant 6 years ago. Most of all enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Lorilee22:10

    This is really useful to someone leaving school and thinking the only options they have is to go to college followed by uni. I though this was my only route. I hate exams but managed to complete a masters and get my dream job in television. It's nice to know when you've found your feet.

    Lorilee xxx


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