To Study or Not to Study: Deciding Whether Further Education is Right For You*


*This is a collaborative post*

We enter the educational system at the age of five and remain within it on a compulsory basis until the age of eighteen. As students approach the finishing line of their mandatory education, they reach a pivotal point in their life. A huge question poses itself to them: to continue their study through higher education or to leave the classroom and head out into the working world? The answer to this question can take their life in completely different directions, so it’s absolutely essential that it is given thorough thought and contemplation. Here are a few methods that could help you to decide whether the pursual of a degree is the right decision for you as an individual.

Previous Experience

It is important that you don’t just apply to a university because it’s what all of your friends are doing, or because you think that it is what is expected of you. Dispel any myths that claim that you can only earn a good living with a graduate level job. Some of the most successful people in the world dropped out of higher education or didn’t attend university in the first place! So, have a think back and examine how you’ve found your educational experience so far. From your interests at nursery to primary and secondary school straight through to college. Remember that higher educational courses aren’t all necessarily academic. So if you have an aversion to large volumes of books and note taking, you may find a more practical or vocational course preferable.

Choosing a Course

If you decide that university is the right option for you, there are so many essential things that you need to consider when choosing a course. Perhaps you have excelled in a certain area of study, finding interest in a certain subject and gaining recognition for your proficiency in it. Your decision in this situation will be relatively easy. If your favourite part of your education so far has been a school trip or a venture outside of the classroom, you may like to opt for a course that allows you to stray from the beaten track. Erasmus and other study abroad programmes exist where you can take your studies to new and exciting places. There are often also options of joint honours courses, meaning that you can specialise in two different areas, broadening your knowledge and expanding your scope.

Deciding Where to Study

Look at the different universities that offer your preferred course and read up the course outline. Different institutions will take completely different approaches, so find one that appeals to you in particular. Avoid opting for a university because it’s where your friends are going. You can stay in touch and make new friends at any university, so choose what’s right for you, not what’s merely convenient. League tables are a good place to examine how your degree will be viewed by potential employers and certain staff members may have produced work that you find interesting and wish to engage with directly.

Remember that you have plenty of time to make this decision, so don’t rush it. Go to open days, contact staff directly and ask any questions that may be causing you to doubt your decisions. If or when you find the right place, all of your hard work will be worth the effort.

*Contributed by Sam Jones

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