Going to university is a big decision that can have a lasting impact on your life. But is it the right choice for you? In this post, we will explore some of the pros and cons of pursuing higher education, based on the latest research and statistics.
Pros of Going to University
- Higher income potential. According to UCAS, graduates earn 35% more than college leavers1. This means that over a lifetime, a degree can boost your earnings by hundreds of thousands of pounds. Of course, this will depend on your chosen field, industry, and employer, but having a degree can give you a competitive edge in the job market.
- Specialised career opportunities. Some jobs require specific qualifications and training that can only be obtained through university education. For example, if you want to become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, or accountant, you will need a degree in your relevant field. Going to university can also help you discover your passion and interests, and pursue a career that aligns with them.
- Personal development. Going to university is not just about academic learning. It is also an opportunity to grow as a person, make new friends, enjoy a vibrant social life, live independently, and learn how to look after yourself. You can also join clubs and societies, take part in extracurricular activities, volunteer, travel, and gain valuable life skills that will benefit you in any situation.
- Research and critical thinking skills. University education will challenge you to think critically, analytically, creatively, and independently. You will learn how to conduct research, find and evaluate information, formulate arguments, solve problems, and communicate effectively. These skills are essential for any career path and will help you adapt to changing circumstances and demands.
Cons of Going to University
- Student debt. For most people, going to university involves taking out a loan or multiple loans to cover tuition fees and living costs. The average student debt in the UK is over £50,0002, which can take decades to repay. Although student loans are different from other types of debt and have favourable repayment terms, they can still affect your financial situation and future plans.
- Academic pressure. University studies can be demanding and stressful. You will have to cope with a lot of reading, assignments, exams, deadlines, and expectations. You will also have to manage your time and workload effectively, with less guidance and support from tutors and lecturers. Some students may struggle with the transition from school or college to university level study, or experience mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
- Uncertain outcomes. Having a degree does not guarantee you a job or a successful career. The job market is competitive and dynamic, and employers look for more than just qualifications. You will also need relevant work experience, skills, networking, and personal attributes to stand out from the crowd. Additionally, some degrees may have limited or oversaturated career prospects, or become obsolete due to technological or social changes.
- Alternative options. Going to university is not the only way to achieve your goals or fulfil your potential. There are many other options available that may suit your needs and preferences better. For example, you could do an apprenticeship3, which combines work and training in a specific occupation. You could also start working right away, gain experience and skills on the job, or set up your own business.
Going to university has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is not for everyone. Before you make your decision, you should weigh up the pros and cons carefully, consider your personal circumstances and aspirations, research the courses and universities that interest you, and explore the alternatives that exist. Ultimately, the choice is yours – but whatever you decide, make sure it is informed by facts and evidence rather than myths or stereotypes.