Going to university is a choice we first make at the end of high school. Which faculty? Which area? It’s one of the first big decisions we make regarding our future, or at least that’s what we’re told. The high schoolers are told to choose a university to go to in order to continue their studies, develop into a fully matured adult and finally have the prerequisites to head onto the working world and find themselves careers. University is indeed a place where you go in order to deepen your knowledge about a very particular field. You could find even more things to love about that field, or you could come to hate it, at the very least you’ll be somewhat of an expert, academically. You’ll be very knowledgeable about whatever you learned. Which can be really good, it’s important for doctors to know about every vein in our body, it’s very reassuring for patients to know that their doctors went through years of studying the human body, as they should. But does it apply to every career out there? There’s a diploma for everything nowadays, but do you always come out of university perfectly ready for the job you signed up for?

University is great if you want to get into a STEM career

STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They’re jobs that require you to know formulas and the components of our world and the materials around us. These are subjects and career fields where you need immense and detailed knowledge about what you’re working with. For example, it would be way too impractical for someone to reinvent a car when you could just learn how cars are built and made before creating an actually improved version of already existing cars. Math as well, is needed in all of these subjects and the formulas can be quite complex and very situational. It’s not just everyday math that we were taught in middle school and high school. This means that going to university in order to pursue careers in this field is a good idea because you’ll be learning about certain subjects in depth and surely, even if you don’t have a slight idea of the practicalities of the job of an engineer, at least you’ll have an idea about what is going on in your future workspace and be able to catch up to your colleagues’s pace faster. 

University almost doesn’t prepare you at all.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, life in university and life in the workplace is two completely different things. No matter how practical the lessons are when given, the environment is so different that it doesn’t prepare you. That isn’t even the main problem, however, as it is not as worthy of being mentioned as other issues and flaws about the higher education system, especially for high school graduates who just got out (barely) of puberty. The first problem is the belief that going to university or college is a must for getting a job later, or in even more old fashioned places, that not going to one right after high school. Children usually have no idea what they want to do in the future, and even if they think they do, maybe they’ll change their minds later along the path. Making full grown responsible adults decide on which subject to spend the next four years of their lives studying is one thing. Making high schoolers do that, while pressured to get their high school diploma, deciding whether or not to move out of the house, actually moving out, and going through teen angst at the same time is not exactly ideal but it is the way it is today and the result is that 66% of college students in the USA have regrets about college according to a survey by Payscale. People need to take a step back and not just go to college just because they were told to but actually go because they want to and when  they are ready to do so.

University isn’t only about studying though!

Of course, parties and being independent, especially if you’re fresh out of high school, is a thing that you could experience most easily in college because everyone else is also looking forward to it. Jokes aside, university is a great place to make friends and more importantly connections. You will be meeting people that are studying in the same field as you and since the world isn’t that big, you’ll probably end up in the same working sector as well later on, if you’re lucky. While making friends and connections are a thing everywhere else that isn’t University, it is true that this place does a good job at forcing especially shy introverts to communicate with people in your field. This way, once you graduate, you’ll have a few friends in the sector, preferably at least one extrovert to give you more connections. Either way, making friends is nice, and doing it in college just so happened to be an option. Depending on the working field, you may even be doing your debut in the field starting from university as you’ll meet people who know people who know other people and so on.

Some people are just not good with academics.

If you were terrible at writing essays in high school about various subjects, you’ll probably be just as bad at it when writing about the one thing you love, which is what you supposedly decided to study in college. If you want to run a sugar plantation in the future, you probably won’t need to know how to write clear comprehensive essays about sugar plantations, but chances are, you will still have to write essays during your agriculture major. Is it a bad thing? Essay writing skills are also important and they help you develop your argumentative side and whatnot, you do need to be smart in order to run a sugar plantation but do you need to be “I can write a 30 pages thesis about agriculture” kind of smart? Probably not. If anything you would need more business like practical skills that you’ll eventually learn as you work. The point is the academic side of college can be a boon to some people. Even if you do fine academically, chances are that a lot of the things you learn in college, you won’t be using. I’m not only talking about the essay writing skill, which was just a very broad example, but also about all the detailed knowledge you learn about your field. All the theory and little detail is indeed important, but chances are that you won’t be using a lot of it even if you did end up in the field of work that is suited to your major. Everything is very practical once you get to work. All of this applies to majors that aren’t STEM majors, however. The more you know the better it is going to be for you in those fields.

So… Is University worth it?

It’s definitely worth it if you know what you’re doing, maybe after a gap year after graduating high school and calming down your teen angst or getting your hand on experience with internships or small jobs, sounds way more viable than to just go from a place full of angsty teenagers to another one full of also angsty teenagers. Of course, it’s a place you go mainly to learn about something in depth so as long as you know what you are passionate about and want to learn about, it is an ideal place to go to. If you’re interested in a STEM field, then yes, go to university because it can be a really difficult and long path to get into those sectors if you don’t. Of course, it’s still doable, just like every career, but it’s especially difficult for STEM people. It’s also a good place to make connections and live a few more youthful years before taking on full responsibilities about yourself and your future. These things, you can however do even outside of university, but if you have old fashioned parents who will think of you as a failure if you don’t go, may as well do it there. Even if it could not very much prepare you for your future job, or if you end up regretting your choice and wanting to do something completely different altogether, university is also an experience among many others that can be really good as well as really bad, depending on you, and you alone.