Is University Right For Everyone?

It is a well-known fact that two of the most successful British entrepreneurs, Alan Sugar and Richard Branson, did not go to university. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Steve Jobs dropped out of university and went on to create what is now the world’s most valuable company, Apple.
It’s not just men that have had success without a university education – the founder of Green & Black’s chocolate, Josephine Fairley, left school at 16, while Mary Portas, who was instrumental in turning Harvey Nichols into a world-renowned brand, started as a shop assistant in John Lewis.

With the recent rise in tuition fees, more and more people are looking at these sorts of success stories and wondering if university is the right choice for them or whether another path might be more suitable.
Setting yourself apart
It’s getting harder and harder for graduates to stand out as more and more people are graduating. Many young people are now wondering whether three or so years getting practical experience (and getting paid for it) could be better than working up a debt to learn about the theory behind things.
While this does work out in some cases, there is no doubt that, for many, the benefits of a university education does open doors and lead to contacts that would otherwise not be available.
When is a university degree non-negotiable?
Of course, success in some industries is much more dependent on whether or not you have a degree and for some jobs it’s absolutely essential. While young people dreaming of starting their own business might not be convinced about the merits of university, others with the dream of becoming a teacher, lawyer, or doctor, to name but a few professions, will know that without a degree their chances are all but dead in the water.
An experience unlike any other
For many, going to university is not just about the degree you’re awarded at the end of it all – it’s the whole experience. While the cost of university goes up it’s getting harder for some people to justify the experience, but some may still feel as if they have missed out if they don’t give themselves the opportunity to go to university and do everything else that student life offers.
Are there alternatives to university?
Deciding not to apply for a place at university once you’ve done your A-Levels doesn’t mean you’ve given up the opportunity to access higher education. You could always apply later in life if the lack of a degree is holding you back. Part-time and distance learning courses mean that you can gain your degree while working, although the demands of employment and studying shouldn’t be underestimated.
Being an intelligent consumer
The higher cost of education means that more people are rightly looking at the benefits of university as a consumer. If you’re going to spend thousands of pounds on a place at university you need to make sure you’re going to the best university you can. Make sure you go to open days, talk to the professors who will be lecturing you and students who have studied before you, look over league tables and find out how graduates in your subject area have done after university. This way you’ll be making sure you’re getting the best value for money.
This post is written on behalf of OCVC.