Just for a moment, allow me to set aside the rose-coloured glasses that come with pursuing higher education and share a few pros and cons (yes, they exist) regarding attending university.
Starting with the negatives – the cons
1. The cost of higher education
Going to university isn’t cheap. If you’re fortunate enough, your education will be paid for by your family; or you might secure one of the few scholarships available, particularly when pursuing a bachelor’s degree. However, if you fall into the majority, you’ll most likely have to get a student loan to cover it. With this in mind, it can be tempting to bypass the whole thing and go get a job.
2. Being (perpetually) broke
Finding a balance between adulting and having some form of a social life isn’t easy. We all know the stories of students living off Ramen noodles for weeks on end or so, before receiving their allowance/stipend/pay from that odd part-time job or whatever it might be. This is when learning to make your money stretch becomes an essential skill.
3. Shared accommodation
Ah, one of the student staples. How it’s glamourised on TV is far from the actual reality of having to share a kitchen or (eek!) a bathroom with people you barely know. If fortune smiles on you, you might get like minded people who tidy up after themselves and are conscious of the shared spaces, but that often isn’t the case.
Now on to the positives of going to university – the pros
1. Greater job prospects
Let’s set aside the knowledge of unemployment rates and the fact that no job is actually guaranteed for your entire life… Having a degree gives you more work options, compared to not having a qualification; it also comes with higher pay (to help pay off that pesky student debt). The added bonus is also that you don’t necessarily have to work in the same field you studied.
2. Time and space to grow
Most people don’t know what they want to be “when they grow up”, this remains true for many nearing the end of their degree. Another upside to being at university are those 3-5 years where you can explore different facets of yourself and just ‘figure things out’. Check out my piece on maximising your time at university.
3. Expanding your network
University is the perfect environment to meet like-minded and different people from all walks of life. People you can retain in your network as you all go off in different directions. It’s also a great environment to forge good friendships…and even, romance 😉
Attending university isn’t strictly good or bad, it’s a fine balance of both. Being cognisant of the “bad” can help us better appreciate the “good”. Other pros include having access to expensive software, equipment and training paid for by the university. Choosing whether to go to university is a personal choice – though there’s usually more pro than cons. What’s on your pro/con list?