No University, No Problem!

First off, oops … real life got crazy busy this last month.
I celebrated my birthday, took a long weekend to go to a folk music festival, and I finalized my student visa application for my time in Brighton.
And now I’m back with another blog post … one that I feel is very close to my own life.

I’m 23 now, and in less than two months, I’ll be moving across the ocean to do something that I’ve never, ever done before. Go to university.

A lot of people my age have already graduated – we are the Class of 2012, and for university, we are the Class of 2016. And, believe it or not, if my fellow classmates went right on to pursue their Masters, they’ve just graduated with that extra certification as well. But, as much as I wish that I was standing with my fellow classmates with a four year diploma, I’m ten times happier with where my life is now.

For a little backstory, I did apply to university in the fall of 2011. In fact, I applied to one university that fall – my first choice – and was accepted just before the end of November. I spent the winter and spring of 2012 being excited about my new adventure at the University of Mansfield in Pennsylvania. But as graduation came and went, I started to realized that I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was doing going to university.

So, about a month before I was supposed to begin my first semester in Mansfield, I withdrew my place and went to work. I had been lucky that my place of work was already looking for more full-time staff members, so I took pride in working and coming home every other week with a paycheck instead of homework from my lectures. Of course, a part of me envied seeing my classmates from high school growing from new experiences, traveling to new places, and eventually graduating.

But instead, in the past five years, I have learned so much more about myself instead of struggling to find happiness in a degree. Instead, I have learned about my own strengths and weaknesses – both personally and professionally – along with what I can picture doing in my future.

Society pressures us into following a strict routine; high school, university, then jumping into the workforce while we’re still unsure of the world and learning how to navigate being on our own. Anyone who doesn’t follow that routine is somehow viewed as being “different” or “not college material” but in reality, there is no such thing a being ready for college. I have known many friends who haven’t gone on to university once they graduate high school. Some have gone into the work force, some have gone for awhile before realizing they weren’t interested in another four years of education, and some have gone into the military or another branch of service to the country.

University is a commitment. A large chunk of your time, finances and dedication. There is no “perfect” time to go further your education, and just because society tells us that the ideal goal is to continue your studies when you turn eighteen, it’s not set in stone. No one will chase after you and force you to follow an imaginary rule about university, or even further education. The door should be left open for whenever, and however, you choose to continue to educate yourself.

Don’t let society’s rules force you into someone you’re not. You were put on this earth to make yourself happy before anyone else and there is no shame in forgoing a university degree if it means staying true to who you are.

Note: If you want more discussion from others about further education, I suggest listening to this podcast. It’s one of a series of podcasts by Pretty Normal Me‘s founder, Em Clarkson, and broadcaster Louise Hulland – where they discuss their own choices when it comes to further education, as well as making it work without having to follow the norm. You can listen to it here if interested.

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