Is Uni Right For You? Pros and Cons of Going To Uni

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Going to university is a big decision. With tuition costs as high as they are a lot of people are wondering if university is right for them. I was the first person in my family to go to university and, for a long time, I wasn’t going to apply. I thought university was for rich kids, I didn’t think I’d fit. I thought that all universities were like Oxford and Cambridge (the only universities I knew) but I was wrong. Through the persistence of a great teacher and my boyfriend I realised I could go to uni. That said I know uni isn’t for everyone! So, I thought I’d put together the pros and cons of going to university.

Living

Pro: You have the opportunity to move if you wish – I was terrified to move to a place I didn’t know but it was the right thing to do looking back on it. It made me be independent, it made me know that I can look after myself and gave me space to work out who I was on my own.

Con: Moving back after uni is tough. I see a lot of people who didn’t go to uni who are starting to get on the housing ladder because they’ve been working and earning while I’d been studying.

Pro: Being able to run your own schedule and your own life. You can eat when you want, sleep when you want and come and go as you please.

Con: Remembering to look after yourself. I really struggled in my first year with loneliness, I wasn’t close with my flatmates. I’d lock myself away for days on end sometimes, which was really tough.

Work

Pro: Some degrees are needed to get into careers, that’s a fact. Likewise, there are some jobs where graduates are preferred.

Con: It can be difficult to work and study. Everyone knows that student loans are difficult to live on and so if you live in a city it can mean long hours.

Pro: Student jobs can pay a good wage.

Con: Student jobs can have very crappy hours.

Friendships

Pro: Making friends from all over the world is a great perk of going to university. I learnt a lot about other cultures

Con: When friendships go wrong it can be hard. When you’re away from home and friendships go wrong it can knock your confidence and make you feel lonely.

Pro: Meeting new people. Meeting new people was great for me, I needed a change and I needed to rebuild myself, which was a huge positive for me.

Con: Moving back after graduation. When all of your friends are all over the country or world it can be really hard to adjust and you do miss the.

Money

Pro: Getting a Student Loan to help while you study was great (although depending on what your parents earn and your circumstances will depend on how much help you get).

Con: Going to uni means you’re not on a full time wage. This really depends on how much you want to study because I know a lot of brilliant people who didn’t go to uni, went straight to work and have built up a good career for themselves.

Pro: Over their lifetime, on average, a graduate will earn more.

Con: If you’re not studying full time you can get a lot of knowledge and experience in your industry, all of my family did it this way!

Learning  

Pro: If you love studying then of course uni makes sense! I loved reading and learning theory and debating, it was the best part of my degree!

Con: Uni can be really tiring and taxing. In third year I didn’t really sleep much, I was very stressed towards the end and got sick because of it.

Pro: You can create your own education. There’s so much choice in terms of courses and modules.

Con: If you’re not interested in studying, writing and sitting in lecture halls uni might not be you and that’s not a bad thing! There are so many ways to progress, further your career and learn!

There’s so much more I could come up with so by no means is this exhaustive. Whether you go to uni or not doesn’t determine if you’re successful. What are your plans? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Why I’m Not Studying a Postgrad Degree

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A year ago I truly believed that I would be preparing for Fresher’s week again, with a stack of new stationary and pre prepared novels read. Instead I am sitting back in Basingstoke, curled up on the sofa, fairly relaxed with a to do list for work tomorrow. I’ve spent the summer earning money and reading whatever I like. I never thought I’d be so happy to be working, but I’m finally finding a rhythm for myself. That said, many people wouldn’t believe me when I said I was happy, because all I spoke about, wrote about, breathed about was becoming an Academic, so what changed?

Third year made me realise that I needed a break. I worked myself half to insanity, I was in hospital because I was so stressed and probably spent more time in tears than I did happy in my third year. I’m not saying all third years will fare this way but dealing with the recovery of my spine, depression and other personal issues on top of the pressure I put on myself to get a first made me very ill. On top of that, I realised that part of my decision to continue study was through fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not knowing who I was outside of education. I’d always been the smart girl, I had always been the hard worker and over achiever, hence why my mental health struggled when my grades didn’t come back as constant firsts, as they had before. I saw myself in Plath, when she wrote of her struggles with what she should do, should she chase education, something she knew she could do?

In short, I didn’t carry on studying because I need a break. I realised that most of my ambitions were based on a false security. Education was safe for me, something I could do. I could work hard and be good. I’d stay in the library late, I’d keep winning prizes and scholarships and then I’d be an academic. I was scared to step out of that box I’d been in since I was 4 years old. And now, after speaking to countless other new graduates, I see that I wasn’t the only one and so many have gone into masters programmes after saying they don’t know what else to do.

This doesn’t mean I won’t go back and study later on. I still have a passion for literature, I’m still interested in looking at Gender, Sexuality, about the impact of literature on young people’s lives, about Mental Health in post WW1 literature.  I still have a passion for it and I still read things about these issues. BUT! Now I have another passion, something I love and want to get into. I love my job and the more I get into it, the more I feel like a masters isn’t something I need, it’s something I might do at some point. I’ve moved on though, I no longer feel trapped by being the ‘smart girl’. I have people around me in a job that value my opinions without me having to be the ‘know it all’, because I’m not stupid I know that there were occasions people spoke to me because they thought I had the answers. I finally feel that my self worth is tied to more than grades.

Of course this is all personal, this is all how I feel right now. In a year it might change, I might save and go back part time but it’s good for me to get away from feeling like a number and someone’s opinion defines me.  I’m not doing a masters because I needed a break, I needed to grow on my own and I’m enjoying it.

Pre Graduation Nerves

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Tomorrow, after 3 years of reading, tears, late nights, hungover mornings, trying to stay awake in lectures, essays, library days and trips to the pub, university will be over. I left with no idea what I’d do once I left, or if I’d even want to stay in the first place. So I’m sitting here (and a big follow up post about the end and looking back and all that jazz to come Friday or Saturday) and just thinking about tomorrow, this big ceremony that we’ve all been told about for years. I’ve had my hair done, my eyebrows, I have a new dress and even heels for the actual ceremony (not all day though, you have to be kidding me), Ali’s going to be there, my parents, my sister. Mostly I’m feeling nervous right now, worried about how the pictures will look, the walk across the stage. I’m not as panicked as I thought I’d be, actually I’m pretty proud of the fact that next week I’ll have spent a month in a job that I love, I have a car I saved up for and I feel like I have some idea of how I want my life to go. Fingers crossed I don’t fall over in the 5 minutes I have to be in heels.

Image from Pinterest

Death by Dissertation??

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At least once a week I’m faced with a crippling fear and enormous self doubt as the result of trying to work on my dissertation. For someone who’s not done a dissertation before, they may think I’m being dramatic, it’s not that hard, right? Wrong. I honestly thought I was so behind but after meeting up with some fellow third years to work on a group project that they also feel as stressed and confused as I am.

My dissertation, something I so looked forward to, had turned into the bane of my existence. I’m now on my  3rd draft and have so much more to do, before it’s finished next month. I’ll have whole days where I’m like ‘yeah let’s get this done’ and then mornings like today where I just want to sit and cry in my duvet and contemplating printing my dissertation and then setting fire to it, obviously that won’t help but in my sleep deprived state it’s entertaining.

I never thought I’d be this stressed or worked up about a project I’d chosen to do. The last haul is definitely the hardest but I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve been working on the parts I love for a long time and now it’s come to editing and reading more critical theory (ENOUGH ALREADY!). I just keep chanting, one more month, one more month.

It’s weird because I love academics normally, I love to write. Hell, you guys are stuck with my notifications every day! I’m just excited to be done with these and finally start my book and have all my passion and energy do into fiction rather than quotes on Marxist Feminism and the role of women in the 1950s.

For any of you also tackling your dissertations, good luck! For those of you who have completed one, what do you suggest to celebrate when I finally finish!

My First Dyslexic Session

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Way back in first year I discovered that I am in fact, dyslexic, and quite seriously so as my educational psychologist report says. There was a lack of tutors for me to start tutoring when I requested it in first year, I then developed the attitude of ‘well I got this far without it so why bother’ partly to hide my feelings. I wasn’t embarrassed to be dyslexic at all, in fact it made my constant troubles with punctuation, grammar and spelling that have lost me so many marks over the years. All in all I just didn’t want another label and have to answer more questions because people didn’t believe me. I love to read, I have done since I was a little girl, people see Dyslexia as not being able to read or write but that’s not what mine is, it has such a broad spectrum! I guess I just didn’t want another label on me.

Fast Forward to a few weeks ago and I was struggling with my course work I didn’t have anyone to have a read over for me or help me understand what was going on with my work on a regular basis. Some friends would help but it wasn’t fair to keep asking when they had their own assignments to do. I decided to try and get the tutoring again, because otherwise my allowance from the DSA was just sitting there not being used. Because it is run by a different company I quickly got a response and was booked in to see a tutor.

I was nervous, I’m really independent when I work so it was something I’d never done before. I shouldn’t have worried, my new tutor is absolutely lovely and respects the achievements and way of working I have. All my sessions will be lead by me and what I want to cover, while my mentor will suggest things that make my life easier in terms of my writing. You never know, the blog might improve too! So, every week I’ll be taking work with me for us to look at and try to make it better, meaning I’ll hopefully get a better grade.

Fingers crossed!

Education is a gift like no other

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I don’t always know what to write about. This evening was like that, a blank screen in front of me and searching for some kind of inspiration. People have asked me today how I can blog every day, how I stay motivated. I don’t really know, I suppose it’s just something I’m really proud of and it’s fun for me. I’d love to make a career out of this, but it’s not the sole reason I write it.

I spent today at work with a bunch of great students. They’re only two to three years younger than me but we’re kind of mentoring them as they apply for university and help answer any of their questions. I sat in on two taster sessions today, one for Media and another for Criminology, two subjects I’d never encountered before. I watched the lecturers and heard their passion for the subject and it inspired me. I’ve been getting more and more passionate about becoming a lecturer lately. People give me a list of reason not to do it; it’s too expensive, you haven’t lived yet, can you earn enough from it, what do you have to teach. There’s this fierce passion in me and from simply watching the impact the lecturers had on young people it reminded me why I want to study until I’m 25.

There is nothing in my decision about being scared about going into the ‘real world’. I want the challenge, the stimulation, the creativity that being an academic in Literature brings. I can still do other things, I can write books, still do social media. It’s not something I see as preventing me from doing anything, instead I see it as opening more doors than ever. It’s true what they say, education is the best gift of all, no one can take it away from you.

I wanted to write this to remind myself when I’m having a tough time with my dissertation this year or when I feel like giving up later on. I want to remember this excitement and happiness at the thought of studying and exploring literature. I’m a geek and I’m proud.

Image from http://www.girlsgonesporty.com/articles/fitness/using-we-heart-it-to-maximize-fitness-inspiration/

Athens Day Three: Open Top Bus Tour, The Acropolis and working with my novel

I made it! I made it out and got to see some of the sights. After filling up on breakfast we slowly made our way to buy tickets for the bus. City – Sightseeing Bus Top Tours are all over the world, I’ve often seen them around London but now I want to actually go on one. The deal was you buy one day and get another free, we’re hoping we can use the other day later this week, because there is a lot too see it’s just really spread out. IT cost us 18 Euros for the bus, so not the cheapest and I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted too because the sun was so damn bright. We sat on the top deck, with our headphones plugged in, melting in the heat of Athens. If you do any of these tours then water is a must, and a hat which I bought before we got on board.

The bus travels around the city, giving you a mix of historical information, opportunities for walking tours and photo tours and top tips for the city, all included in the price. I knew I couldn’t do much walking so the tour was a nice way to catch a glimpse of the city and it’s beauty. The columns standing after thousands of years, statues of the Gods mixed with modern touches too. Children shouted hello and waved to our bus and we waved back, laughing at their excitement.

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In the city gardens

Our method was to stay on the bus the whole way round, which took an hour and a half, before getting off at the Acropolis. It didn’t take long to realise my hopes of going up the Acropolis weren’t going to happen. Most of the city was too uneven for my wheelchair and there were a lot of steps surrounding, Ali promised we’d come back later on when I could do it, but I was heartbroken. I did, however, get to go to the Museum where most of what was inside was moved to, or casts of them anyway. Seeing what had survived and the detail of the ancient world was breathtaking, unfortunately you’re not allowed to take any pictures while inside. There was even the old streets under your feet that you could look at through glass.

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The Acropolis Museum, (l) Stadium, (r) The best picture Ali and I could get together on top of the bus and he’s actually smiling!! 

As we got off of the bus we were lucky enough to watch the changing of the guard, the outfits are amazingly detail with 400 pleats and take 80 days each to make. The 400 pleats represent 400 years of occupation. They have a special march and guard the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Today put a lot of strain on my spine, we came back to the hotel for an hour or so that both of us could drink a lot of water and relax before having to head to class tonight. I was upset with my spine, fed up of the pain and still wanting to do everything. Even going to class this evening was a struggle, but I’m glad I did!

As well as discussing another piece of work by a fellow student, I also had my 1-1 meeting with my tutor. We sat down and worked through my submission piece and discussed where I was going to go with it, how I felt about ideas that had been put forward, things like that. Katherine is a brilliant tutor. I have so many ideas and directions of where I can go with my novel now, it’s actually becoming real!

As for tomorrow, it very much depends on my spine and how I feel but I’m hoping to go out and explore again (fingers crossed).