When it comes to the point of leaving school, more and more people are choosing to progress to university- in fact almost 50% of students are doing just that. This was a long term aim by the government and now it seems to have come to fruition. Before determining if it would be right for you, here are a few things that should be taken into account:
Depending on where you go to university, the cost of the course and living expenses can vary considerably. The average cost per academic year is approximately £10,000 – this is taking into account tuition fees, travel and books/equipment. By the end of your time in university, you could have accumulated a pretty big debt. The student loans you have taken out will follow you around – remember somebody gave you that money, they will want it back! It is said that if you don’t earn over a certain amount, you don’t have to pay it back – but this could change with the change of government.
Start Employment Sooner/Apprenticeship
Some people choose to leave school at 16 and find work or start an apprenticeship – this is just as good a career path as going to higher education. If you get a job or start an apprenticeship, you will be earning money instead of getting into debt. Also you will be gaining valuable experience and training – while many at university are being told how to do the job, you are actually learning first hand how it should be done. You also then have the necessary experience to put on your CV.
Work Experience when you can afford it.
Although you may not earn great money during an apprenticeship, your cost of living is considerably lower at a younger age. Latest figures show that young adults are not flying the nest until much later these days. People are finding it hard to pay rent and other bills when they leave home – so if you are still living with your parents, consider the extra cost you would have if you moved out. Electric, heat, water, food, rent are just some of the things to think about and that maybe could be taken for granted when living at home.
When it comes to leaving school, a lot of people can be unsure what they want to do – this leads to them picking something their friends are doing or something they haven’t really researched or know much about. In turn this can lead to that person dropping out. So then they are left with debt, no qualification and it has wasted their time. So rather than going for the sake of it, you should ask if it’s actually what you want?
A degree doesn’t mean a job!
All through school your teachers and parents will tell you that ‘if you go to university, you will get a qualification and in turn get a great job with great pay’. Well I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is not necessarily the case. Sure it can give you the edge in the current climate – but there are plenty of people with degrees working in entry level roles in call centres. You will find when you apply for a job, they will usually want you to have experience – this can be a never-ending problem. You need experience to get the job, but you need the job to get experience!
I hope this will have been some help to you. When considering university, try thinking about the above scenarios and how they may affect you and your choice.
Penned by Dermot McBride