Why It's Okay To NOT Go To University

You're 18. You've just completed your A-levels. Now, a lot of authoritative figures are on your case constantly, pressurising you to make a decision regarding your future. The "normal," I guess, path to take would be to go to university as that's what is expected but, honestly, if you don't want to go to university, then you don't have to go.
18 is such a tender age and, although it's the age where you officially become an "adult" and when everyone around you seems to respect you a little more, in certain situations at 18, you still feel very much like a child. Despite being able to legally drink alcohol and vote in elections, at 18 you also have to make some pretty terrifying decisions which will impact the rest of your life and, no matter how old you are, nobody is prepared for them. Truthfully, even the oldest, wisest of human beings haven't got a clue what they want to do with their lives. No one actually knows what they're doing now and we're all just going with the flow. However, at 18, there's a lot of pressure on you to choose a firm career path and to start planning the rest of your life. It's scary stuff. One minute you're in college, having to ask the teacher for permission to use the toilet. The next, BAM, you're a fully qualified adult who has to make important decisions which could, essentially, decide whether or not you're going to be homeless in twenty years time. Like I say, it's scary stuff.

The common route to follow upon leaving college is to go to university. It's pretty much what's expected from you from an early age. You complete your GCSEs, you study for your A-levels, you do a degree then dive straight into employment. It's as if the world already has a set road for you to go down and it's frowned upon if you choose to go in a different direction. People expect you to go to university and, if you don't, you're either a failure, unintelligent, lazy or just have absolutely nothing going for you. That isn't true, though. The pressure to go to university is enormous when, in fact, university isn't for everyone and it's one hundred percent okay to refuse to go.

I applied for university because I thought that was my only option. I applied to study journalism at multiple universities, I went to their open days, I looked around their accommodation, I attended interviews, I filled forms in and I was offered places, all of which I did whilst, at the back of my mind, knowing it wasn't really what I wanted to do. But what else could I do? If I didn't go to university, I didn't have a plan B. I wanted to be a journalist but how else would I go about doing that without a degree in journalism? So, I just went along with it, hoping that something inside of me would click and I would suddenly get an overwhelming desire to go to university. But, I could have saved myself the fee of applying to university and all of the hassle that went with it if I was aware of the other options available to me. Schools and colleges expect you to go to university, it's seen as the "norm," therefore, they don't take the time to fully educate you on what else is available. Sure, they mention you can get an apprenticeship, take a gap year or plunge straight into a full time job but they don't go into anything in depth. You're left to your own devices and all the support is given to the kids who want to study at uni. I stumbled upon my university alternative by accident after mentioning I would be going to study journalism to one of my tutors. He too used to be a journalist and so told me not to waste my time with uni because future employers wanted a certain qualification over a degree. He studied for his degree then, after graduating, realised he needed to take another course in order to be properly qualified. So, I looked into said course, applied, did my entrance test, was offered a place and BAM, that was it. After all the sleepless nights I gave myself, worrying about university life, I solved all of that in a couple of weeks and placed myself on a different route. I'm currently studying my Level 3 NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) Diploma three days a week and I couldn't be happier. After this, I won't need a degree. Sure, university is always an option in the future but, for now, I'm content with knowing that I'm doing what I need to do in order to get into employment. University was never for me, not really. The partying lifestyle, the house sharing, the living away from my Mum and getting into a ton of debt... just not my thing and, thankfully, I realised that before it was too late for me to do anything about it. However, had I not received some guidance, I would probably be packing my bags right now and preparing for freshers week, which is why I believe schools need to do more to support students who aren't a fan of university and make them aware of the other options.

I don't feel an ounce of regret for not going to university. Not going doesn't make me stupid, incompetent or confused, besides, not everyone who goes to university actually does well. And you shouldn't allow anyone to shame you if you don't go to university, either. In the grand scheme of things, whether or not you have a degree doesn't matter. When I pass people in the street, I don't look at them wondering if they've been to university or not. Further education just isn't for everyone and that is ACCEPTABLE. We need to end this constant pressure on young people to carry on studying and need to stop making them believe that university is the only option. There's an ocean of options out there available to you, regardless of your desired profession. Of course, if you've always wanted to go to university and you know that a degree is required in your industry, by all means GO to university and enjoy it! However, if it isn't for you, there are apprenticeships, jobs, millions of other courses which you can take. A gap year is also an option if you haven't fully made up your mind just yet and don't want to think about the future for a while, because the future is scary, especially when you're so young. You have your whole life ahead of you and university will always be an option, regardless of your age. Try to think about how you feel in this very moment and follow your own heart. Do what feels right for you and what will make you happy, don't just do what you think you're supposed to do. By going to university when you know deep down it isn't what you want, you'd only be causing more upset for yourself. It would lead to sleepless nights, not enjoying the experience as much as someone else would and, also, a hell of a lot of unnecessary debt.

People are praised for deciding to go to university but you too should be praised if you decide not to go because you've still made an important decision about your own future, which takes guts. It shows you're capable of thinking for yourself and that you aren't just doing what everyone else is doing.
There's more to life than university and education so try not to let the whole thing stress you out so much. Talk to people, friends, family members and teachers, get clued up on what else is out there and find the path which is right for you. And, if it doesn't end up being the right path, don't worry! You still have plenty of time. No matter how old you are, you'll always be able to start something new and take yourself in a completely different direction. Breathe. Remember everything will all fall into place eventually and prioritise your own happiness and well being above everything.

If you want to go to university, go. If you don't want to go to university, don't go. Be proud of whatever choice you make and don't make either yourself or other people feel guilty for whatever they decide to do. We're all just here trying to figure life out and need to stop worrying about what other people will think of us. What's right for someone else isn't necessarily going to be what's right for you and that is absolutely fine. Whatever happens, wherever you go, whatever you do, whoever you are with, everything will be okay.

Are you going to university? <3

Love, Emily :) xx


  1. I think (as I've struggled with this situation and ended up studying a career I didn't love that much and I haven't finished yet) everybody should be able to take a gap year and reevaluate their priorities.

    Love how to talk about this topic!


    Teapots and Frills

    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog post, Marina! A gap year is always available for anyone, it's just a shame not all realise it or are educated on alternative options. There isn't any shame at all in taking some time out to find out what you want and to explore your own identity. I hope things all work out for you, remember, your happiness and well being are the most important things and you are able to change directions at any possible moment. <3