I’m glad I didn’t go to university. I didn’t even do A-Levels at college, I did a course of Floristry which has no A-Levels attached to it. Here’s why.
When you leave school in the UK, the typical expectation is that you go to sixth form, or college, and do A-Levels. This is to be able to get into University later on in life, and do a degree of your choosing. It makes perfect sense if you don’t take into account everyone’s personal issues, financial issues, living conditions.
Of course you don’t have to go to University, it’s not a mandatory thing. It’s not even really mandatory that you go to college after school (although you are expected to do something). The idea that it’s mandatory or not isn’t what pressures young people to go to university. It’s the expectation that you should go. It’s knowing that if you don’t go, it will be majorly harder, if not impossible, for you to get a job that you love. It’s the social pressure, too.
So why didn’t I go? Even after all of that, I still didn’t go. At the end of school, I was in a really bad place. It wasn’t as bad as it had been during school. However, I wasn’t anywhere near being well enough to embark on a journey that, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do in the first place. I knew I wanted to do Floristry (Look how that turned out) so I decided against the norm.
Also, how much stress would it have put on me to force myself into a situation where I would feel anxious every day of my life? To the point of not going outside, not speaking to anyone, being scared of everything. There wouldn’t have been any true education happening for me. My whole life would’ve just revolved around the social aspect of University. Going to parties, clubs, being expected to have a large group of friends and get along with everyone in your classes.
Thankfully, my best friend Sophie did go to college but she didn’t do a typical A-Level course, and she hasn’t (yet) gone to University either. It did make me feel better knowing there was at least one other person who wasn’t entirely sure what to do with their lives, as we’re expected to at age 16.
Then there’s the question of do you regret it? I didn’t regret it, and I still don’t. Even though earlier this year when I decided I wanted to get back into education, it was harder for me to do so. I have to now go back to college to do a higher education access course, instead of A-Levels. Only after that, can I be accepted into university. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a good thing that there are things in place for people like me. The pressure to go in the first place shouldn’t be as high as it is, though.
In school, I felt like whenever I told people I wasn’t doing A-Levels, wasn’t planning to go to University, I was judged immediately. A lot of people actually said to me “How will you make friends?” and “How will you get a job?”. I was worried that if I wasn’t good at Floristry, or if I didn’t like it, that would be it for me. There were no other chances. I know that sounds stupid now, but that’s the amount of pressure was on me to get it right first time. I made the decision to be risky about it. I could’ve easily put myself into a situation where I wouldn’t have been happy at all, just to fall in line.
I think me not going to University back then was the start of how I am now. I am certainly not someone who just ‘falls in line’ or ‘follows the crowd’ with anything I do. I am happy I didn’t go to University back then because I would be worse off now. However, I’m also glad I’m strong enough now to be able to decide what I want. I have work experience, life experience, I’m wise for my age and have learnt how to live as an adult properly. All of this without the distraction of essays and deadlines, without clubbing or parties, or being distracted by tons of friends that I don’t actually like or need.
I’m going to college in September, then I will be going to University. I decided a long time ago that Floristry wasn’t for me, and after going back and forth with my mental health – I’ve finally decided what I do want to do. I truly believe in the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’. Turns out, it does.