I see a lot of chatter online about how you don’t need to go to university or that schools push university too much or how you can be much better off by aged 23 without doing a degree.
I don’t disagree with any of these points but it does make me a little sad to see so much negativity about studying at university. You definitely don’t need to go to university in order to live a successful life, you can 100% be more well off at age 23 if you chose not to go onto further study after leaving school and schools absolutely do push further education above all other post-school opportunities which I don’t agree with.
But that doesn’t mean university is a bad thing.
I left my small home town aged 17, moved to Glasgow and began studying an undergraduate degree in Classical Civilisation and History. In hindsight, I might have done things differently. I would have explored other courses such as Business as opposed to Classics and History and I would have a had a gap year in order to start further education at 18 and 1/2 rather than 17 and a 1/2.
But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make this decision to go to university again in a heartbeat – or fail to encourage others to do the same.
University was always something I gravitated towards. I always knew I wanted to study something. True, the rhetoric in my small town high school was in support of a university education, but I had made this decision on my own a few years before.
I never wanted to be a History teacher but I have always loved History. I still do. I’m still passionate about learning from the past, debating themes and factors, asking difficult questions and pouring over archives and records from centuries ago. I didn’t necessarily go to university to study something to then work in that area, I studied history because I love it and I wanted the opportunity to dedicate a portion of my life to it.
I try my very best to maintain my eye roll when people ask me if I plan on being a History teacher but I think that is part of the problem surrounding post-school education and future employment. It shouldn’t be about finding the best job upon graduating, it should be about savouring the time in your life you’ve dedicated to education. The time where you’ve pushed yourself to learn about something you are interested in. To take risks, debate, learn from professionals and your peers and perhaps leave your dent on the subject behind when you move on.
It shouldn’t only be about employment, it should be about learning.
In truth, my university degree has given me so much more than a qualification and it has never just been about that. It gave me a new home, some of the best friendships I’ve ever had, new interests, more confidence, career opportunities and an appreciation for education and research like I’ve never had before.
Without my university degree, I would have never moved to Glasgow.
I can say pretty confidently that, without moving to Glasgow to study here, I would never have moved here. I was pretty blinkered when it came to Scottish cities, only noticing Edinburgh (which was actually my first choice) and I was convinced I would study there, then live there. It turns out there was a different plan for me as I got rejected from Edinburgh (lmao, still bitter), went with my second choice Glasgow and I cannot thank my lucky stars enough.
Glasgow is a wonderful, vibrant, homely city with an unmistakable atmosphere that is unlike anywhere else. The people are friendly, the culture is forever growing and getting wilder, the food scene here is incredible and it is a city where I feel completely at one with its soul.
I love knocking about the west end, popping into my favourite cafes and shops, wandering through Kelvingrove Park and marching up and down University Avenue to class and the library.
I love hopping on the subway on a rainy day and whizzing into town as we all stand hunched over on the too-small train, getting off on Buchanan Street to the noise of buskers and Glaswegian accents. I like walking down Sauchiehall Street on my way to work, past colourful shop fronts, bars and restaurants and watching the city chop and change as redevelopment passes through.
I love going to the cinema, for drinks, sitting in the park, in my local beer garden, on my window sill watching my street come to life in the morning and become silent in the evening.
I would have never moved here without coming to university. It is unlikely I would have left my hometown if I hadn’t gone on to study and as much as I don’t want to leave my beloved Glasgow behind one day if I have to move on, I am confident that thanks to this first move, I could do it again.
Without my university degree, I would never have met some of the incredible people I have in my life today.
A lot of people call your university years the best years of your life. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as calling mine that because I’m sure there is more to come, they have been very good to me. I’ve met incredible people, some still in my life, some not and I might not have crossed paths with them without university.
My friends are interesting, intelligent, kind and hilarious people who all fill my life with such joy. We all come from different backgrounds, different countries even and want different things out of life but we all still come together to talk, laugh and share.
Without my university degree, my blog would have never become The Monday Project.
I started blogging in some format back in early 2015 with the encouragement from a couple of friends but I really struggled being confident and believing in it.
But that changed when I moved somewhere bigger. I disappeared into a crowd of thousands of people and no one gave a toss if I was posting a couple of articles on the internet a week. I made friends who were supportive (and who also like the free perks that come with), who read the content I publish and encourage me to make a change when I feel downtrodden or out of sorts with it.
I also found an amazing blogging community. Glasgow has a vibrant blogging scene that I occasionally dip my toe into: I’ve met amazing people who I share a passion with, people who inspire me, blogs that are interesting, current and relevant to me. I’ve been to a few events that have continuously shown me different sides of Glasgow or helped me to learn something about my city.
Being in Glasgow has given me the confidence to press publish on a post, have my photo taken on the street by the amazing Claire, helped me meet people who are just as passionate about blogging as I am and I would have never had this without my university degree.
Without my university degree, I would have never found the career path I’m on now.
When I first applied for History and Classical Civilisation, I was honestly unsure about what I would do next. I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher but I didn’t rule it out, I was contemplating a law conversion degree or becoming a journalist and following what I loved: writing. My degree gave me the time I needed to breathe and figure things out.
I had the time to dip my toe into different industries, listen to professionals in respective fields through university organised talks, research what I was interested, have the support of a careers service, be inspired by those around me (especially the future careers of my friends) and find what I wanted to do.
Digital marketing has always appealed to me. I was most interested in the marketing segments of the Business course I did at school but coming to Glasgow, immersing myself in the digital community here, meeting inspirational people who were involved in the industry and understanding, through my four years of study, how my degree could be of use in the future.
I would have never gotten my internship without my degree as I applied through the university internship hub. Through this I get to see marketing from a different perspective, B2B rather than consumer marketing, which is both educational and interesting as I am able to shape my perspective of marketing more accurately and I am more confident that I am making the right career choice.
I would have maybe come these conclusions about a career on my own in my sleepy Scottish hometown but it might not have happened now, when I’m ready, or in the same order or with the amazing opportunities I’ve had without attending university.
Without my university degree, I might not be so passionate about further study and learning about something you care about.
It’s not just about the job at the end of it.
Post-graduation employment is obviously important but university is often viewed a time-filler between secondary education and the rest of your life. It is, in a sense, but it is so much more than that.
Through my four years of undergraduate study I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the leading scholars in their fields regarding topics of historical debate in both history and classics. I’ve developed an interest in medieval history (I will talk to anyone about the medieval papacy and I do have favourite pope thanks for asking) and I’ve had the opportunity to travel for educational purposes and understand destinations in a whole new way.
I’ve learnt loads not only about the content of the modules I’ve studied but how to conduct myself in a professional environment, how to write persuasively and eloquently, how to present in front of my peers confidently, how to debate my historical ideas, how to research a range of sources and compile this into an understandable and interesting report.
I loved history when I started my degree but I’m leaving it with an even greater appreciation of the past and the people who work so hard to uncover it. I’m so grateful I have had the opportunity to dedicate this period of my life to it and I’m sure I will get the chance to again in the future.
I am aware that university and further education is a privilege and that is why I feel so strongly about encouraging people towards it for the right reasons and making the most out of your experience. It is expensive, time-consuming, stressful, hectic. I am extremely fortunate that I had the support of my parents to pursue further study, that tuition fees are paid by the Scottish government and that UK has a pro-university culture. It is not accessible to everyone but it is a brilliant opportunity that should be grasped if possible and right for you.
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