December 05, 2016

Why I Didn't Go To University

The expected path to take after secondary school is to follow your education onto university or college, but admitting this wasn't the path for me was one of the scariest decisions I have ever had to make.

 Deciding to go to university is a huge move to make, and I wasn't ready to go. 

Probably the most asked and definitely the most aggravating question being asked at school will always be "so what are you going to do at uni?". Since first year I changed my mind like the weather when it came to answering this. I wanted to be a doctor, a nurse, a radiotherapist, a journalist, a computer scientist, a business woman, a fashion designer, and pretty much anything else under the sun, but the closer and closer I came to having to actually pick a career and stick with it, the more I realised I didn't actually want to be any of these things, in fact, I didn't know what I wanted to be at all. 

I attended a school were academic achievements were all that really mattered. It didn't matter if you were stressed, or having panic attacks over work load, or spent all day and night trying to stay afloat with work, all that mattered was that you were going to go to university. This for me was a really sad thing, because all along I knew that I wasn't ready to go to uni, but I could never admit this because, what the hell would my teachers think of me if I didn't want to go to uni? I felt like my school didn't provide any support or care to anyone who didn't want a degree at uni. I remember one afternoon my teacher invited past pupils in to talk about their life after school and how they're getting on, but every single one of the selected students were university students. Can you imagine the pressure I felt?

During this time last year, the crunch was on and I was panicking. I HAD to find a career that A.) I would get accepted into B.) that I could fool myself and others into believing I wanted to do. So, seeing that I was studying A Level computer programming and I enjoyed it, I decided I would take that as my calling. I nurtured a personal statement on why I would be the best next female programmer and off I sent it to UCAS in hope of university offers.

Within days I had received all 5 offers for my chosen courses, one of which even being an unconditional offer for an amazing university in London. But something felt different about getting my offers than when I watched my peers get their offers. People would actually cry when they received an offer from their desired uni, and as happy as I was for all those people who got what they dreamed of, I just could never find the same excitement for my own offers.
Yes, when I received offers it was extremely exciting at the prospect of some university being interested in wee tiny me, and the reality of growing up and leaving school was becoming real, I just felt dread at thinking of how much I knew I was making a mistake. 

After months of contemplating, I finally decided that I wasn't going to go to university just yet. I took the Summer to consider this, to make sure I was making the right decision. I considered every possibility and everything that I would face with not going, but I was ok with it.
After receiving my A Level results in August, and obtaining results I felt really quite proud of, I made my way to the UCAS app and I turned down my unconditional offer. I said no to a new life in London as a student, something I had dreamed of for years. And when I clicked that button my stomach was in knots, but I also felt a sense of relief that I didn't have to leave my Mummy and Daddy just quite yet.

At this point I didn't have a part time job, I was watching all my peers pack their suitcases and head off for amazing new lives all over the country, some of them in different countries, and I felt so insignificant. This was probably one of, if not, the worst things I've ever endured. I can't exactly describe the feeling, but I felt like I had just lost in life because I wasn't going to uni. I felt like my life was over and I had made a huge mistake.

Four months on and I have landed on my feet. I now have two part time jobs that I love. They aren't exactly what I want as my career, but I'm taking time to figure myself out, and what I want from life. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that if i didn't decline those offers and I listened to what my teachers thought was best for me, that I would either have spent £9,000 for a years tuition only to reuturn home after one month, or I would be living a very sad and lonely life in London studying a course I hated and being somewhere I didn't want to be. 

I'm still not sure where I want to go in life, but I'm a hell of a lot closer to knowing now than I was last year. I don't have teachers telling me to do one thing and my heart telling me another. I actually have time to think about what I enjoy, I have time to share my head every evening because I'm not bogged down by coursework. I have had time to have jobs and experience working in fields that I enjoy. One of my part time jobs is in marketing and I love it. I would never have known I was this good at it or enjoyed it this much if I didn't take a leap of faith and say no. I've learnt so much about myself, I've grown up and matured in more ways than I could have ever imagined, and I've seen the devastation created when someone hasn't been brave enough to say no to uni right now, and it makes me proud that I was brave enough to listen to my heart.

I know that being in school is tuff. A Levels and college work is tuff. Everyone wants the best for you, and you do to. You're scared that if you don't go to university that you'll be "a waster". You're scared of judgement from teachers, friends, peers and family. But none of these things would feel as bad as being miles away from the comfort of your own home when you're stuck studying something you don't love.

I think university and higher education is an amazing opportunity and I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have the opportunity and freedom to have or choose my education, and I'm not ruling university out for myself, I still want to continue my education and study, I want to continue to learn for as long as I can, but right now, I'm just not ready for that commitment. I need a break. 

There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you don't want to do something, in fact, it's the best form of bravery. Standing up for what you believe in and what you think is right is a really difficult thing to do, but once you do it, you will never look back. I know I didn't believe this before, but there are so many young people that feel the same as I did, but they were too scared to stand up, and that's why I have shared this post. 

If you are going to university in the next year or two but you aren't 100% on your decision, don't rush into things. You have your entire life ahead of you, one year out won't kill you, in fact it will make you stronger. Be proud and most importantly, be brave. If I can take this huge leap of faith and come out the other side then anyone else can too. 

If you want to talk more about my decision or you have any questions please leave them in the comments or add me on snapchat! (sara_belleza.)


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