Should I have done it sooner?
Should I have gone to university at the age of 18 – and now be a graduate, after graduating at the age of 21? Society says yes, I say no. There’s a pressure at the age of 18 – well 17 really to make a decision, go to university or don’t. For some it’s an easy decision and for others it’s difficult. It was a simple decision for me, I knew I wanted to go to university. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. It was a goal for me and I knew that I wanted to head off at 18.
But things don’t always work out like that do they?
I got my place at university to study Media, Culture and Communications at a local university. I really wanted to do journalism but I couldn’t get the grades so settled on that course. On paper the media course was perfect for me and I couldn’t wait to head off into university life, but something was stopping me. I wasn’t too sure and I wasn’t ready. It may have been nerves or it could have been due to things in my life at that moment in time. I’m still not sure what it was – I just didn’t want to go anymore.
Some of you may know this story already – but I then went to college to study health and social care. I got my place and off I went to college in September – not university – as I’d hope for so long.
Fast-forward two years and I’d finally gotten to university – this was it.
Except it wasn’t – cue mental health problems and that was it – my university hopes had been dashed again.
But I didn’t quit this time – and in September last year I finally came full circle and settled on journalism again at the age of 21.
I’m now 22 and finally heading into the second year of a degree course having passed my first year with a high 2:1 and my first NCTJ diploma module with a C!
However, people are surprised by my age and I still get asked – how does it feel to be older and going to university?
Someone even said to be the other day “Haven’t you graduated yet?”
I should have graduated “by now” by society’s standards. I shouldn’t be in education, because I’m too old. At least that’s how I’m made to feel – but guess what? You still can go to university and achieve your dreams at any age. It’s not a barrier.
There’s far too much pressure to follow the “correct” path – go to university at 18, graduate and then go into the world of work. But that path isn’t correct for everyone – it wasn’t for me.
So society, the path I have taken is the correct path for me.
I should not have done university sooner because being “older” means I have more experience both in terms of my course and university life.
I understand what it’s like in Fresher’s Week and to move away from home. I know what it’s like during your first year of university and trying to fit in and do well at the same time. I know the assignments can take some getting used to and that you won’t always get a good grade. University life is hard to adjust to and to be honest I don’t think I would have been able to handle it like I can now.
I didn’t have the confidence – and confidence plays a big part at university.
I think I would have dropped out anyway – as my dad would say I wouldn’t have been able to hack it.
I couldn’t “hack” my social work degree and I admit that with a heavy heart, but this time I can – and I will.
Just because society says so does not mean you have to do so.
There are many different paths to different careers – some take longer than others – and that’s okay.
Live your own path, don’t let society determine it.