The reality of university & university life

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sometimes it's good to be a little bit controversial right? Ever since you join secondary school teachers get it into your head that you NEED to go to university. I never really saw myself as going to university myself, with an older sister who had really high ambitions and couldn't wait to get to university the whole aspect never really appealed to me. The closer I then got to finishing sixth form the more university was mentioned and I thought why not look into it? I knew I wanted to do fashion but more the business side of fashion and not designing and I began to look at courses and universities. I decided to look at universities within a couple of hours from home so it'd be easy to get back and I looked at Nottingham, Manchester, Huddersfield and Birmingham. It's very hard picking a course but I saw myself living in a city and one day decided on living in Birmingham.
(Photos from Freshers week)
Before you know it I was moving out of my house and into my new flat and I didn't have the easiest of times. I ended up in my LAST choice of halls of residence and I took it before I went to Africa as I just didn't want to be roomless for university. I ended up in a halls MILES away from my university and it's a long journey for when I'm in university and dealt with a lot of problems after that. Over these next 3 months I dealt with an awful lot a first year university student shouldn't do and it was a very hard time of my life. I didn't know what to do and I ended up going home a lot at the weekends. I started off in University and I was in quite a lot and after a couple of weeks it became less and less and EVEN less.
I liked the fact I was living away from home but I had SO much free time I didn't know what to do with myself. I decided to go out a lot at night as it past time but I was still very unhappy. In my first time I sprained my ankle and I was on crutches for weeks so I had to go home and I still managed to get a good grade in my work. I realised then I was spending 4 and 5 hours in uni each week and my loan was not stretching to by anything I needed or to LIVE off. I was paying £9,000 in university fees to not afford to live properly?
I then began applying for part time jobs and after moving flats and having major surgery at christmas I eventually got a job! (yay!) Since then my views on university life have changed even more. Was it really worth paying all this money to spend 4 hours in uni? I wasn't as impressed with my lectures and I felt like I wasn't learning anything new. The time I spent at uni became few and far between too some weeks I'm only in for 2 hours, sometimes 15 minutes and it takes me an hour to get to university! I spend most of my time working to afford to live at university but that takes away the fun of university life. I'm never in university at the same time which makes my time management not great. Over these past few months I've learnt a lot about myself and i'm now know I'm fine coping on my own. I just think a LOT of people are mislead into university life when they don't necessarily want to go.
I've ended up spraining my ankle, having major surgery, moving flats, living miles away from campus in a halls where barely anyone is on my course. It makes it very difficult as I live with people which don't go to the same university as me. University has been a life changing experience so far but I'm not sure whether I'll be sticking to it... But if there's anything I can do to help you and your experience here's my tips...
- As soon as you've decided on which uni you want to go to APPLY for accomodation as quick as you can or you'll end up somewhere you don't want to be.
- Go for a uni with halls ON campus. It will be so much easier! I've visited friends which live on campus and they're saving a lot more money than I am as they don't need to get buses and taxis all the time!
- Look for local supermarkets nearby when looking at halls. (I don't live near a supermarket so do all my shopping online)
- Really assess whether university is right for you. It's not right for everyone and see whether you can get to your chosen career/career pathway without a degree (it's worth it to not be in debt!)
- go for the university which wants the highest grades. That will then be the best quality of uni and you'll come out with a great degree and you'll be surrounded by people which WANT to learn and they know about the subject they're studying
- Go for a university with easy access to things. It's nice to be in an area with a good variety of night life/bars/restaurants & clubs!
- Be near a shopping centre (gotta get the essentials right?!)
- Don't live too far away from home if you're close to your family but far enough so you get you're own freedom and can live away!
- GET a part time job. I don't know how i'd survive without one. It's helped me so much so far and having experience aswell in your required field as a job will help your cv too!
These are just my personal views on university and I know everyone's experience is completely different. My views are based on doing an arts degree and I know if you were doing a different degree your view would be different. I think it's really worth seeing your options about not going to university as the amount of graduates searching for jobs just shows that a degree means as much as it used to. Especially for working within the fashion industry!
Do you have a university degree? Do you have a fashion degree? What do you think?


Unknown said...

I love how honest you've been here! My school/sixth form pushed and pushed for me to go to uni, but I just didn't want to go. I still did the moving away from home thing - to a flat in the nearest "bigger" town with my fiancé, got myself a full-time job and am doing evening classes to help me become qualified in my career. I know this was the right decision for me and wouldn't change it for the world and when I hear about others' uni experiences, I know I couldn't do it. I hope you still think you made the decision and good luck with your future career :)

Heather said...

it's such a shame to hear that you're having such a bad time at uni becca. i've just started uni this year too and am also doing a fashion degree but unlike you i feel like it's taking over my life. i'm in 18 hours a week, every week at the very least and have to do a lot of work outwith uni too. i feel like i'm never free of coursework and i really want a part-time job but i just don't know where i'll fit in the time. i'm not complaining as i know this is just what it's going to be like going out into the fashion industry but probably 100x worse! did you speak to people on your course before you chose it? i spoke to loads of people that i didn't know (facebook stalker to the extreme haha) just to 100% make sure i was making the right decision and i'm so glad i did. although i don't love university i do feel it's helping me and i'm learning new things all the time. is there a possibility of you moving unis to a course that will better suit you?

sorry for the ramble! hope you sort everything out soon :) x

Louisa Davies said...

this is so true - im at university at trent in my second year, and i love it but there are so many issues you have to face, and it really needs to be thought about before make such a financial investment, and make such a drastic change to your life.

i also feel so bad for the new fees, it's such a joke.

new follower <3

Fern said...

I was at university for a year, I lived at home during this time and then decided to move out in my second year. I was never really crazy about it and a few weeks into my second year I decided to drop out. I'm so glad I did as I'm so much happier now and it just proves that uni really isn't for everyone x

Lindsey Elizabeth Pritchard said...

I thought it was just me who was completely underwhelmed by the whole thing.

I live at home in Telford and travel an hour on a free bus (thank god) to Wolverhampton University. I remember seeing a scottish blogger tweet that she'd worked out her timetable and she was in for a total of about 8 hours a week and couldn't believe that some people pay for that. It is unreal the kind of guidance you get for the money.

Lindsey. x

Unknown said...

I think university is worthwhile for teaching independence but that's about it. It's good if you need to do a specific course to get where you want to be i.e. you have to do a law degree to be a solicitor. But if you aren't sure what you want to do you'd be better off getting a job and working your way up. I wish I'd done that. I graduated with a 2:1 law degree in 2006 but only did it because I got an A at A level and uni was the next natural progression. I haven't got a job in law as my heart wasn't in it. I'd love to work in fashion but to do that I've got to start all over again and massively reduce my income!
Your advice to potential uni students is great. I just hope they take it on board. xx

Dreams That Glitter xoxo said...

Oh gosh this post has really struck a chord with me. I studied music at Uni and absolutely HATED it and was so miserable for 3 years. I so desperately wanted to quit but didn't want to let my family down but looking back, I should have changed courses or made some change as I look back on those 3 years in such a negative way. So, if I could give you any advice it would be to talk to someone about whether you want to go through with it, because I so wish I had and not wasted years stuck doing something that was simply a waste of time.

All the very best lovely <3


Amy said...

refreshing to hear the other side of the story! I've applied to start uni in september, waiting on replies. I'm so bored of school and I'm definitely ready to leave but the thought of going to uni scares me, I feel so young to be at uni! I'm not as excited about uni as my friends. They're all enthusiastic about their courses and so sure of what uni they want to go to. I don't know what uni I want to go to, what degree I want or what I want to do after uni. Neither of my parents went to uni and I'm an only child. They'd never say it but there is a lot of pressure on me to get a degree, I know how much they want me to. I'm hoping that when I get all my offers and make my choice I'll finally be excited about it! I love your post! Makes a change from the usual you-need-a-degree-to-get-a-job story you hear everywhere. Advice from teachers who all have a degree is always a bit biased, nice to hear it from someone I can relate to, thank you Becca!

Deejay Speaks said...

I find myself questioning if I should be in school now or not a lot lately but after already taking out loans I figure I might as well push through the next 3 years I go to more of a commuter's school and am a journalism major so it makes me feel better knowing I'll be out soon enough and you're so right university is not for everyone there's a lot of successful people who didn't go or have dropped out

Rosie Cumberlidge said...

Its such a shame that Uni hasn't been great for you Becca because I'm in 3rd year and I really think the last few years have been the best of my life. I got off to a bit of a wobbly start as I didn't like the people I lived with but as soon as I joined the Performing Arts Society my Uni experience completely changed and I gained so many incredible friends that I couldn't live without now and have had some amazing experiences being in shows and joining committees etc. I really believe that your degree course is only one small part of the uni experience, I'm only in Uni about 6 hours a week and I don't love the course but I know it will help me get a good job and I see it as probably the least important part of Uni to me. Living so far away must be suuuch a pain but if next year you could get accomodation closer to campus and join a society where you can make some good friends with similar interests to you then it might really improve. I know my housemate was miserable in her first year but in her second and third things really picked up so I would encourage you to stick at it but obviously you can only do what is best for you! I hope things improve and you end up making a decision that makes you happy!


Sarah said...

I completely agree with this post, although I'm not an undergraduate (until september!) I'm doing a foundation art course at Birmingham (luckily it's free) and it's the most pointless thing I've ever experienced! Although I'm moving to Leicester in September, which I'm hoping will be better, the thought of £27k worth of debt and then accommodation on top is a killer! Uni's are so chilled it's unreal! x

Unknown said...

I'm also at uni in Birmingham, at BCU, but I'm in final year now.

I lived on campus in first year which was great, it's sad that you have missed out on that :(
I live in town now which is a bit of a pain commuting for a two hour lecture which sometimes turns out to be 1 hour 30 mins, but I do agree, university isn't right for everyone and you have to really want to study and throw yourself into the lifestyle to enjoy it.

Great post by the way, nice to hear a honest view. xxx

Jenna said...

Ah didn't realise you'd moved to Birmingham (my hometown) which uni are you at? Sorry it's not going too well and meeting your expectations.What about trying interning or something in your free time? There's a few fashion things starting in Bham.

Ellen Grace said...

This was a really informative post, I'm going off to uni soon and things like this really help and cover all bases!

A little bit Unique


Alice said...
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Alice said...

I think that Uni is pushed on young people way to much nowadays. I feel like a lot of my friends only went for the social side of university, and chose a course for the sake of it. Unfortunately, they're going to left with a massive debt at the end of it.

There a so many courses that just shouldn't be taught at university; for example, I'm doing a diploma in Veterinary Nursing and I'm learning on the job. I work full time, so get paid and I'm at college once a week. It may not be a degree, but I'll be a qualified vet nurse after two years. Anyone could go to uni and do vet nursing - but then how can you know you really have the passion for it when you're doing mostly theory. It'll take two years longer than a diploma and you'll be left with crazy debt.

I think a lot of things should go back to the old school ways of teaching on the job! I hope uni does work out for you though; as long as your passionate enough about something, you'll get there x

Oroma Roxella Rukevwe said...

I'm meant to be starting uni this year but lately I'm wondering if it's really what I want to do? About 12,000pounds on tuition yearly (I'm an international student) is a lot of money. That doesn't even include accommodation fees and other bits and then I'm not even sure I want to study the course I got accepted for? Really, my parents are the ones forcing me to go down the science path. I've just got a whole lot of conflicting emotions about the whole uni thing. Lol, if my parents would let me study a fashion-related course then I wouldn't hesitate at all but Genetics, mergh. I'm an excellent science student but I don't see myself using that degree. Nope, I really can't.

Glad everything's better for you now x

Personal Style Blog By ORR

Gavina said...

I know a lot of people who are doing courses where they only have something ridiculous like 2 hours a week! I think it depends on the course you are doing because I do Primary Education (to be a primary school teacher) and most days I'm in university from 9am-5pm and we get placement every year. There's many mixed views about university I think, especially now the tuition fee has risen. I applied way before the fee increased and I still struggle to have enough money so I can see how hard it must be for those who have to pay more now! Well done for getting a job!

Holl JC said...

Wow! Love the honesty in this becca! Gave me so much to think about, as i've got to start researching and looking over the next few months; which shall be fun. But thank you for this post, it really has given me a lot to think about and mull over! xxx

Elizabeth Daisy. said...

I absolutely loved this post - it was like a breath of fresh air to read. I didn't go to university as I was so desperate for a job, and having the independence via my own money. Even though I'd have loved to study Fashion Buying at uni, the thought of the student debt etc put me off. Also I'm a 'home girl' lol! I get terrible home sickness! I don't regret my decision because blogging gives me the opportunity to do what I love writing and expressing my interest in fashion plus there have been lots of opportunities from it that just go to show you don't need a degree to do what you love.

Elizabeth Daisy x

Helen said...

I agree with so much of what you've said here. I always knew I wanted to go to uni and was fortunate enough to go before the tuition fees went up, although I still thought £3,000 a year was a hell of a lot. I studied languages so was in uni more than people who study other arts subjects, as I had language classes as well as lectures, but I still question what they did with all that money from us. I would think twice if I was about to start applying for unis now with the new tuition fees, especially now I've left uni and really struggled to find a job I want. Experience is EVERYTHING nowadays and my first class degree seems almost irrelevant. I know most employers want you to have a degree on your CV, but that seems to be all they care about regarding your degree - the fact you've physically got one, rather than being interested in your academic achievements. It's a lot of money and effort just to get a line on your CV. However, I had the best time at uni, I learnt a lot, really grew up and I don't regret it at all. My advice to you if you continue with your degree is try to get some interning or other relevant work experience in the summer holidays, I really wish I had done that while I had the chance - I worked part time too but apparently that's not enough for employers nowadays! GOOD LUCK with whatever you choose to do!

Unknown said...

This is one of the most honest post I've read and it's a huge eye opener. I'm planning on going to uni in September, but there's this part of me that doesn't want to go (a huge part of me) but without it I can't go into the career I'd like to follow. (Fashion Journalism). My college, parents and brothers are pushing me to go as if I'm still a child being told I need to go to school!

I really hope everything works out for you and you achieve everything you're working so hard for.

Beth xxx

That girl; Saadiya said...

Money was always a massive issue for me when i was at uni too but i literally had no time to work and when i did find a job i had to quit after a month because of my uni work. I think it really does depend on your course and uni, i did law and by third year the library became my second home which was very depressing!
I enjoyed reading your post - every experience is different so it's good to read about others!
I agree that you learn a lot about yourself and the money issue is hard to deal with - trying to learn but having no money to eat? Doesn't make sense lol! And even now i've graduated i've completely changed my mind about going into law which is a bit annoying!
Saadiya x

Sasha said...

It's really nice that you've been so honest here, and the advice you gave is really sound too. When I went to uni my halls were on campus so it wasn't too bad a commute at all, but I did have a fair amount of contact hours. I think it does seem like a bit of a joke when you pay so much money but don't get many hours of lectures/seminars - you wonder whether you're just paying for the piece of paper xx

Megan Kate said...

Uni life is so much what you make it.
It's really easy to romanticize it but half of the time it's just a pain in the arse, plus you have to do your own washing.

On the other hand, you say your course doesn't have many contact hours, see this as a plus: you have the time and opportunity to do so much without a big risk factor, if you don't get the internship you want or your big plans don't materialize you're still in the same position you were before: Working towards getting a degree which will only help your future.

That's how I try and see things when i'm feeling low.xxxx

Megan Kate

Olivia Burn said...

Sorry to hear you haven't been having the best of times at uni :( I want to go to uni but it's not for a couple of years yet! Hopefully tuition fees will go down then haha! x

Unknown said...
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Lucy Loves To Blog said...

I'm sorry that uni wasn't what you wanted it to be. I never went, I wasn't ever interested really, the idea of having to write an essay makes me feel sick!

A lot of my friends have been in the same situation as you, I hope things get better for you soon xx

Lucy Loves To Blog

Unknown said...

I agree with all but one of your tips which was the "go for the Uni that wants the highest grades". In my case, (my degree is in Biomedical Sciences), the Unis with the highest grades don't tend to be accredited and leave you in a worse state than those with lower entry grades that are accredited and allow you to do a placement. Luckily for me I only paid £3400 per year for my degree. I am still job hunting but the degree is needed in my area of science.

I'm so sorry that you're unhappy with the amount of teaching hours you have, but I think you should go and talk to someone about it before you go into second year! I was in over 16 hours per week in classes, a full days lab and then more in the library etc doing work. The careers centre in your Uni should be able to give you some good pointers on what to do. Or as someone else has said, see it as a plus and when you're not working part-time, try and get an internship somewhere or even voluntary in a fashion related company! :)

Hope it all works out for you! :) x

Unknown said...

I'm in my third year now and I have to say that I completely agree with what your saying. Since I started I've barely been in uni at all, a maximum of like 6-8 hours a week. It's not great when you have SO much free time, it's hard to feel productive.
I've got a part-time job as well, which is definitely a must - nice to have some spending money! Hope things are looking up!


Lauren Danielle said...

I know what you mean, there is a lot of down falls to uni, however I'm in my third year of a fashion degree at Trent. I'm also doing a placement year bcos even with a fashion degree it's not enough to break into the industry. Just try to enjoy the time you have at uni, the whole uni lifestyle is something you won't get back :) xx

Unknown said...

This post was really helpful to read! Like a lot of you I've applied to go to Uni in September but am still doubting my course but feel I can't waste a year at home feeling down. If anyone wants to talk (or rant haha) about uni, feel free to message me! :) I'd love to know others thought on their degree


Hummingbird Girl said...

Beautiful pictures You are so cute

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Christina Marie said...

Great post! University definitely isn't for everyone, I agree. It sucks that so many people end up going just because they feel that they have to.


Unknown said...

Thanks for being totally honest here - I am planning to do the same course at BCU in Sept! I'll go into it with a more realistic approach now, so it's been really interesting to hear what you have to say :) x

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you haven't enjoyed uni. It's not for everyone. My parents told me apply and if it came round to the time to leave and I didn't want to go, there was nothing lost but £20 application fee for UCAS. You may find second year better, I had a horrid time in halls too, but I am so much happier living with people I chose to be with now. Have a look at my blog, I try to make uni seem funny when sometimes you don't feel like laughing!

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