Why I'm happy I never went to university

 

University is an opportunity of a lifetime. Or at least that’s what parents and teachers tell you. Throughout my last couple of years at school there was an almost unrelenting pressure to commit to three years more education; three years more graft – all for the promise of a graduate job at the end of it. I resisted and I’m glad I did.

I decided to do an apprenticeship instead. One of the main reasons I turned my back on university is because I knew I wanted to be a journalist and I didn’t see further education as the be-all and end-all of having a career; you only have to look at the likes of Richard Branson, Piers Morgan or Jamie Oliver to know that.

The social aspect of university is appealing to many; as is the independence moving away from home provides – both of which help explain the year-on-year rise in university applications (up four per cent in the past year).

But at the end of your three years, what do you get? A piece of paper that certifies you’re talented in your area of expertise; a heavily embossed certificate that comes at a hefty price - up to £27,000 in fees from some universities plus a few thousand more in student loans.

Well, I didn’t want thousands of pounds of debt hanging over me when I was supposed to be enjoying my youth. And I certainly didn’t want that debt if I’m trying to save money to buy a house, pay into a pension and have children.

As for the promise of gainful employment? Looking at my friends who have since graduated, many did so with the expectation that a job would be there waiting for them. One year on and they’re still chasing unpaid internships and work experience - as, presumably, would I.

Certainly, when I was offered an apprenticeship with The Independent and Evening Standard, I was convinced that I was getting an education as well as a full-time job in the industry I wanted - and I strongly believe I’ve learnt twice the amount from my colleagues than I would have done at university.

To me, university isn’t doing enough for students, and it would appear that the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, agrees as he recently said that “too many young people aren’t getting what they need”. 

What young people thrive on is a combination of education and work - not one and then the other. And with apprenticeships, the opportunities are endless. Over 150,000 employers offer apprenticeships in the UK and, even after finishing, 85 per cent of apprentices will stay in employment, with two-thirds of those staying with the same employer, giving you a sense of job security and, of course, no student debt.

Three years on, it’s impossible to say whether I made the wrong choice in not going to university, and I know my decision might come back to haunt me. But, for now, I have no regrets at all.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect