I regret going to university. There, I said it – the one thing a student is never supposed to say. For our generation, university is not only considered mandatory, but also the pinnacle of our lives – socially, personally, and economically. It’s the watershed period, where we discover ourselves, make friends for life, and are set upon our future career paths.
To question this is to admit defeat, to accept a certain failure to develop in some vital way that is necessary to progress from floundering novice to semi-adult. As I reach the end of my third year at this University, with graduation emerging both gradually and all too quickly on the horizon, I can’t help but reflect on what I’ve gained over the past three years….and what I’ve lost.
My university experience has not been entirely negative or pointless – I’ve gained a lot, I must admit. I’ve gained independence, great experiences, met so many truly amazing people, and learned so much. I just feel like I’ve lost more than I’ve gained. In the flurry of the university experience, it’s all too easy to get caught up with the competition and pressures of it all. Hobbies are often cast aside, a general feeling of inadequacy is widespread among students, and as a consequence of trying to keep up and keep ahead, a lot of people lose their sense of self. Who among us hasn’t felt lost and aimless from time to time?
I’ve lost money. I’ve lost my passions. I’ve lost time – time I can’t get back. A time when every door was open and being fresh-faced and inexperienced was completed acceptable – the norm, even. Keeping on top of coursework has left little time for my old passions and pastimes, and studying English has left me with a general distaste for reading as an enjoyable and relaxing activity – the very reason I decided to study English in the first place was because reading used to be my favourite thing to do.
Whenever I approach this subject of “uni regret” among my friends, I’m met with confusion and a succession of eye rolls. “Think of how much you’ve changed”, I’m frequently told, “All the people you’ve met, all of the experiences!” I concede, this is true – I’ve made great memories and had a lot of fun. However, this begs the question: couldn’t I have made memories and had fun doing a multitude of other things over the past three years? I could have travelled more, gained more relevant experience, all the while actually making some money, rather than completing university just for the sake of a degree that comes with a considerable monetary deficit?
I’ve enjoyed my uni experience, I truly have, and I’m certainly not saying it was the worst decision I could have made upon finishing school. Yet, if given the opportunity to go back in time and do it all over again, I wouldn’t go to university. At least, I wouldn’t have gone to uni as soon as I did, or merely as a naïve means of gaining independence and a fresh social life.
I still think there is a chance I could have attended university at some point. If I could give some advice to my eighteen-year old self, though, it’d be that uni isn’t a carefree playground of fun and socialising, or a straight-forward stepping stone from unemployed child to fully-fledged adult with their dream career being offered on a platter. It’s lots of work, with some play. Most of all, contrary to popular belief, it’s just simply not for everyone.