To the school that told me high ATARs and uni offers were all that mattered; to the parents who grew up in a time where a degree was a stable pathway to success; to the career advisors that never showed me all my options; to the people who tell me I’m ‘wasting my potential’; to the teachers who told me that gap years weren’t valid; to the people that think apprenticeships and traineeships aren’t as valuable as university–

Stop telling me I need to go to uni.

Because when you tell me and my peers this, what you’re also saying is:

  • There are no other ways to get qualified
  • It’s not okay to take a break from study
  • If you don’t go to uni you’re a failure

Which are all lies.

When my teachers talked to me about uni there was constant reference to when you get in–no ifs, buts or maybes about it. And, in a school system where your final years are geared towards getting the highest mark possible, a mark that is solely designed to get you into tertiary education, it’s no wonder students are feeling the pressure.

I get it, it’s hard to shift away from this idea that the pathway to success is graduating with a degree in hand. But times are changing, there are a magnitude of ways to get educated and the truth is, many uni’s are selling degrees that aren’t relevant nor a guarantee of employment.

I’m not saying that uni isn’t a valuable experience. There are plenty of careers that are going to require you to put your head down and hit the books for a few more years after Year 12. What I am saying is that uni isn’t the only way to get somewhere in life; sometimes, other options are going to be better for you–and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Not going to uni doesn’t make you dumb, or a failure.

Going to uni for a little while and deciding it isn’t for you doesn’t make you these things either. You might do two years of your degree and finally realise that you don’t want to finish it–that’s okay too. When you’re being force-fed the idea that uni is the only option it can be hard to see the other things that are out there for you. But they are there- gap years, volunteering, travel, work, apprenticeships, traineeships, private colleges, TAFE… And hey, if you have a look at all that and decide that uni is still where you want to go that’s okay too. But make sure you give yourself a chance to look at the other options available.

Think about whether uni is going to be right for you and ask yourself:

  • Does the job I want need a degree?
  • Are there other ways to get qualified?
  • Do I need time off from studying?
  • Do I want to travel?
  • Do I want to work?
  • Am I doing this because I don’t know what else to do?

Don’t fall into the trap of doing something just because that’s what you’ve been told to do, or it’s what’s expected of you. When you’re confused, and don’t know what you want to do with your life, going to uni can seem a pretty safe bet. But the truth is, going to uni straight from Year 12 isn’t your only option (there are much cheaper options, I’ll tell ya that much) and whatever happens, you’ll figure out the right path for you. It just takes time.