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Is University Right For You?

An attempt at insight through personal experience.

If you're reading this, then you're probably wondering if university is the right choice for you. As I write this, I'm having the same thought. Let me explain. Mid-way through high school I discovered my passion in life. Or at least one passion in life. I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. I wanted to build new and ever evolving technologies for space. It was then I realized the work it would take to get there. It would mean buckling down, studying hard to get into a good university and graduating top of my class. It started off great. As soon as I began to apply myself, school work became no problem and my grades quickly rose to highest in the school. After graduating I set my sights high by apply to the University of Bristol overseas. I was accepted and my life was right on track. But things don't always go according to plan as I'll explain later. But whether you're currently in University or taking a gap year or whether you're just a high school student wondering if this is the path you should take. I will tell you my story and hopefully give you some helpful insight into your own position and desires. So if you're still with me, just hang in a little longer and we'll get to you.

Shortly after moving to England and beginning university, I realized I was woefully unequipped. Coming from a small town, I didn't have access to higher math that most of the other students had taken. I was immediately behind. This is when the anxiety and depression kicked in. I struggled with it through most of first year. Most days I would only get out of bed to eat. Of course this meant I was only falling farther behind in my course. Come exam time, I was unprepared and ended up failing half my courses. I resat them in the summer and again failed half of those. My only option left was to retake those two courses before I could progress to second year, which I did. This is where things get rough. At this point I was humiliated. I'd gone from top in my school to bottom of the class rank. All of my friends from my course progressed to second year while I stayed back. But I vowed that I would work so hard on these courses and pass with flying colours and continue on in my course. Well that didn't happen. At least the second part. I worked crazy hard. I studied for hours and in the end, I still failed one of the classes. This is where I started to question if university was right for me. While I was passionate about my degree, I had to think about the long run and what would make me happy. I realized that if I had worked so hard and still couldn't pass, that maybe this wasn't mean't to be. This all led to an existential crisis and many many tears figuring out what I wanted in life. Sure I was passionate about my degree but I'm also passionate about other things. If I stuck with my degree I would undoubtedly end up in a desk job doing math for the rest of my life and I don't think that's what I want. So despite putting in tens of thousands of dollars into university, I decided to leave. And I'll be honest, I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do with my life and that's okay. There's time.

Now I promise I'll shut up about my problems and get on with helping you guys. So a lot of issues people have with deciding whether or not to go to university is that they don't know what they want to do in life. This is completely understandable. Having to shell out thousands of dollars on something you're not sure about would be scary. And for that my advice would be don't go. There are plenty of jobs you can work that will pay just fine and don't require a degree. You can always work for a bit and then travel and try new things until you find something you're passionate about. People always say you should look at your hobbies and see how you can turn that into a career. And of course the old 'do what you love and the money will follow.'

Perhaps you're a high school student just like I was; studious and ambitious. Perhaps you think you have it all figured out and you know exactly what you want out of life. Well I just have to say that university is a very particular lifestyle and it's not for everyone. It means going to class everyday or you'll fall behind. It means practically living at the library for 1/3 of the year. It means being poor and in debt. It is, after all, four more years of school. You'll have to be away from your family for sometimes months at a time. You'll have to fit the entire contents of your life into a tiny little room. Not to mention dealing with the physical and psychological toll of all that constant stress. There is a reason that suicide rates are so high in University. I know parents always say that you need a degree to get a good job and I used to believe it to but now days, I don't think that's true. Even if you get a degree, you are absolutely not guaranteed a job. The job market is a mess regardless.

If you're already in university and you're having second thoughts, you need to figure out whats giving you these thoughts. Is it you're degree? See if you can switch to something you like better. Is it the university? See if you can transfer to a different one. But if you're like me, the right choice may just be to leave. I know it's a heavy choice but you need to do whatever will make you happy, not anyone else. There's no sense in finishing your degree if you know it's not what you're going to do in life. One of my friends dropped out from my course in first year and now he's a ski instructor in Sweden. Leaving university does not put an end to your life prospects.

Now I know this has been an extremely lengthy post and it probably seems like I'm advocating for everyone to quit university but I'm not. I know it works out well for a lot of people. We wouldn't be the world we are today without higher education. But sometimes you have look and think about whether or not you should leave that to someone else and follow what you want to do. But while I was struggling with my decision, I couldn't find any resources about whether or not university was right for me. Upon googling it, It only came up with results about which university was right for me. So I thought I would share my experience and hopefully help others who are struggling out there right now. And just remember, do what makes you have, not anyone else. 

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