For most 18-year-old college students, there is one big question surrounding their future: should I go to university? The answer might have been simple 30 years ago. However, the introduction of tuition fees in 1998, followed by the steep raising of them in 2012, has caused the question to change slightly: is it still worth going to university. Paying such high fees for education has put many people off the idea. Yet others still advocate the benefits of academia and promote the great student lifestyle. If you’re unsure, read below for possible answers to that looming question.
Yes – You have better job prospects
The main argument for university is the glowing promise of better job prospects. Although it does not mean you will be in your dream job and rich straight after graduating, it is true that graduates ultimately earn more than nongraduates do. Recent studies show that, on average and over the course of a lifetime, those with a degree earn £500,000 more than those without one. University is an investment in your future. The basic truth stands strong: by studying and paying tuition fees now, you earn more money in later life.
Yes – It is a great life experience
Undeniably, university is the best time of many people’s lives. In the UK, student satisfaction rates are incredibly high, with 86% of graduates happy with their university degree in 2014. It is a time of freedom, with the ability to study what you love in a city you love. It is a time of fun, with thousands of young, like-minded people surrounding you. And, usually, after 18 years at home, it is a time of independence.
Before diving into the world of work after graduation, you are given three years to enjoy life. By making friends, by joining clubs, by exploring academia – partying, experiencing and learning. Why say no to that exceptional opportunity?
No – It’s not worth the student debt
True, paying back tuitions fees is based upon your future earnings so you will never pay more than you can afford. However, the reality is that university costs extend far beyond tuition fees. Paying rent in major cities, buying books every term, affording food, travel home, and society fees, not to mention the costs of an active social life. Student life is expensive.
Research has found that, including the £9,000 per year tuition fees and all additional costs, the entire cost of university is around £88,700. By going to university, you are also limiting your availability for work for three years. All these costs add up. Ultimately, you leave university in a huge amount of debt, to both student loans companies and bank overdrafts. Most graduates fall into any job they can to start paying it all off – not exactly the prospects freedom and independence promised to you.
If you are seriously worried about money, follow the advice of Student Money Saver in their guide to budgeting.
No – Apprenticeships or internships are better options
University is not for everyone. Most college students are faced with the pressure to continue studying. It seems the correct thing to do, and it’s easy to be carried along with the wave. However, for some people, apprenticeships or internships are a much better option, on a professional or personal level. Professionally, some work values experience more than education, and it is more productive to learn on the job, in the industries of say construction or design. On a personal level, some people might not flourish through theoretical learning but find it easier to gain skills in the real world of work.
After all, many graduates leave university with an undergraduate degree but no experience. In a way, they still start from the bottom of their career ladder. In comparison, the people who left academia after college have often already climbed a couple of rungs.
Yes – You can study what you love
Perhaps the best reason to go to university is to study what you love. Studying is a privilege that many take for granted in the UK. But the opportunity to dive into a subject with passion is an exceptional thing. University life provides chances to share and discuss ideas, to let your mind expand and create new concepts of its own, and develop connections with people in the world who are similarly interested in your subject.
When university allows you to pursue your dream career or live life in the way you always wanted, the financial downsides seem to dissolve away. If you truly care about a specific subject or career path, and university is the way to embrace that future, it is ultimately a very small price to pay.