Chances are you have faced the decision of: to go to university or to not go to university? Personally, I chose to go. The choice was not made easily. A part of me had always wanted to go but once I finished college, I had lost all motivation to continue with any form of education. But for me, it was a case of proving to myself that I was not one to ‘give up’ because the work had been tough. I wasn’t going to sit back and not try to do better things with my life.
Initially, I chose to go to Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). The university gave me a firm offer once I’d passed my exams. However, due to personal reasons I chose to not go ahead with the decision to move away from home. So I cancelled my application and took a gap year. Now, when I say ‘gap year’, I don’t mean I gallivanted around the world – as much as I would have liked to, my finances would not agree with that decision – I worked for the entire year and that suited me.
Eventually, I concluded that I really wanted to go to university and applied for the University of Sunderland (UoS) to study Journalism. Once I got my acceptance letter, I was over the moon to be moving ahead with my future. My first year at university hasn’t been a walk in the park. But thinking past all the stress and difficult moments, I’ve had an amazing time so far.
If you’re not aware with the way university works; let me explain it to you. The year is split into two semesters. In an ideal world, you’ll have three modules (think of them like ‘mini-subjects’) in first semester and three in the second. Sadly, it doesn’t always work out that way, and it certainly didn’t work out that way for me. First semester, I did two modules and second semester I did four.
Looking back, first semester was not that difficult. The only part I found difficult was getting back into the education flow of things – so to speak. After a year and half break, I struggled to get used to the work/life balance straight away and I should have timetabled my deadlines a lot better than I did. Alas, I pulled through first semester and into second I have tumbled.
Having four modules in one semester is quite traumatic, I’m not going to lie to you. The amount of work can feel suffocating at times but it’s doable so long as you’re willing to work hard and set yourself time goals to get your work finished in. I timetabled my deadlines far better during second semester and it has been greatly beneficial to my success in my modules.
So first year has been difficult but I feel it’s been worth it. I’ve become a better writer; been able to get better at filming and editing videos; and my confidence overall has skyrocketed. I was already an out-going and confident person but I started university on my own. It was nerve-wracking but I made friends quickly and they are still my friends today.
I appreciate every single person that has helped me make it through this year – lecturers and friends alike – I couldn’t have done it without you all.
Of course, this is not the case for everyone. Whether or not you want to go to university should solely be your choice and not the case of others pressuring you into going. There are other options such as apprenticeships if you feel like university really isn’t for you.
University is open to everyone regardless of your background, ethnicity or financial status. I’ve found that university is a far more accepting environment than school or college were. If you feel you want to give university a go, then do it. If you don’t like it then you can choose another course or do something unrelated to university. The choice is all yours.
I hope this has been insightful and helpful. I know it’s quite long but university is a HUGE topic to cover.
Until next time,
(P.S. I’m aware that second and third year will be harder than this year – just wanted to clarify. This is solely based on the majority of UK universities (excluding Northern Ireland). Other countries education systems will work differently.
For information on student finance visit Student Finance England’s website. Another good place to look for advice is Martin Lewis’ Student loans mythbusting article.)