I’m going back to university! Oh, you have no idea how good it feels to say / type that.
I’ve spent the last few weeks only telling a select few people that I’d applied to return to university for fear of jinxing it. To finally be able to write about it on here, and tell people, is like a weight off my shoulders. Or to quote many books who use this awful phrase, “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.” Eww.
“What will you be studying?” You may ask. Excellent question. I’m going back to finish off my Forensic Science degree.
I miss science. I really do.
The first time around, I completed a year and a half of my degree before dropping out. I didn’t drop out because the subject wasn’t right for me; I thoroughly enjoyed it. I dropped out because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was confused and unsure.
I’d blindly applied to university straight after college because that’s what you were supposed to do, apparently. I love learning, I would be a perpetual student if I could sustain it, so of course I wanted to go to university and learn more. But I didn’t ever stop to ask myself “what next?”
What did I want to do after graduation? Did I even want to work in science, or was it just that I was fascinated with it? Wanting to do a job and being fascinated with a subject are not the same thing. For example, I’m fascinated with snakes but I will run a mile if I see one.
Shortly before the start of the second semester in year two, I dropped out and took an apprenticeship in something completely unrelated. And that was the point; I wanted to try something new to see how I felt about doing that for the rest of my life.
To begin with I was engrossed in learning about something new, but as time passed I began to realise that I missed science. The most enjoyable parts of my job are analytical, and scientific things.
I don’t regret leaving university at all. I needed to do that to find out what I wanted, and it would have been stupid of me to continue doing something I was unsure about and to use up all of my student finance if it had turned out that I actually wanted to do something else.
The decision to go back to university at 23 is not one I’ve taken lightly. It will mean I will take a pay cut of at least 50%, I will need to get a job that will probably include working weekends and evenings, and I won’t be able to save much money. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices. And if I don’t do it now, I never will because there will always be something to “stop” me.
If I could give you one piece of advice about further education, whether it’s college, university, or something else, it would be “don’t rush”.
Don’t feel that you have to go to university straight after college or your a-levels. It’s fine to wait if you’re unsure. There’s no harm in it. The course will still be there, and your student finance will still be there. (I say this as someone living in England because I have no idea how student finance works anywhere else.)
Yes, you might graduate or finish a course a few years after your friends. You may find yourself living as a student when your friends are buying houses. But forget about that, because there’s no point rushing into something if you’re unsure.
This is your life, not someone else’s. Ultimately, it’s you who has to live with the decisions you make.