University: The Reality.

Ever get the feeling that someone is pitting things against you? They say “I’ve done this” when you say that you’ve “done that”. They always have to go one better? In all honesty, I’ve found that this is what university is really like. University is a competitive place whether we realise it or not. With thousands of students coming out of university with the same degree; we are constantly told to “be ahead of everyone else” and to “stand out” amongst the crowd.

I’ve found this from the get go. Everyone is told to do the same thing and then we have to find a way to make ourselves different – work experience, internships, extra-curricular activities… It’s not just about having a degree anymore, nor is it having that little bit extra experience. You have to have a lot of it. It’s tough out there, we are told. And that is the reality. University won’t let you get away from that.

Any career is competitive. Many people want to get to the top rung of the ladder. I’m not afraid to say that I’m one of them. Many people have ambition and want to succeed – that’s why we are going to university, right? We are against others from other universities but we are also against other people in our class. It’s the truth. We want to be the best of the best and it’s this attitude that makes university a minefield.

Creative careers however are even more competitive (besides medicine). You have to be original and innovative. You have to have something that no-one else has. What that “something” is, I don’t know. I’ve already been taught the good characteristics of a journalist – confidence, a problem solver, curious, a good communicator. I could go on. But if every journalism student has these skills at the end of their degree, then surely we are all the same?

We have to be different. There is no ifs or buts about it. We are told to have a go at everything (something I do naturally anyway!), to push ourselves, to rise to challenges. But again, if everyone does that then again we are all the same. Whether people do these things is another story but the majority of people do work their butts off at university. I’ve seen that in my first week already.

I’m not writing this blog post to put people off going to university, it’s an amazing opportunity. But you have to be aware that the competition does not stop once you are through the door. It isn’t easy. You’ve already beat off some of the competition by getting to university – you were one of the best candidates, but now you are with the best of the best and you have to show it. Ambition can thrive or can take a nose dive. It’s your choice. Sink or swim.

University is a challenge, but be willing to take it and fight the competition.

I know I am!

YPE

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