I remember when I was eight years old, sat in my auntie’s house, listening to my cousin talking about how much she was loving studying at Glasgow Uni. I remember sitting in the car on the way home, absolutely determined that one day I too would be heading off to university.
I never realised how difficult and challenging achieving that dream would be.
Students get a lot of shit, they’re ‘lazy’, ‘lacking work ethic’, and ‘postponing the real world’ etc etc yadda yadda yadda, we’ve heard it all. University is often considered the easy option, and certainly when I was at school we were pushed down that route. As someone who has worked full time, and also attended university, I can wholeheartedly tell you, they are both equally as hard.
My university dream finally came true in September 2015, 2 years after all my friends went to uni. I’d struggled with keeping my Crohn’s Disease under control for a number of years, and when the time came in 2013, I was completely unprepared and unable to be away from home or look after myself. Fast forward two years, and with a load of work experience under my belt; I felt like I was ready.
If you’ve read some of my older posts, you’ll know that it wasn’t all plain sailing, and my dream quickly turned into a nightmare. Although I enjoyed the course content, and made some amazing friends that I adore, that first year at university utterly destroyed me. 450 miles away from my fantastic parents, I still had family around, but nothing could ever substitute for crying onto my mum’s shoulder and her throwing Maltesers at me, or singing daft wee songs to cheer me up.
By Christmas of 2015, I’d lost a stone in weight, I’d gone through a horrific break up, was severely depressed, rarely leaving the house, and eating even more rarely. My cupboards were stocked with untouched food packets bought months previously. For breakfast I’d have a glass of Diet Coke, and for dinner I’d make cheese on toast, if I had the energy. When I didn’t have the energy, it wasn’t unheard of for me to make a punnet of plum tomatoes substitute for two meals.
I’m extremely proud of myself for managing to see out the year, achieving a 2:1 standard overall, with a First Class in several modules. In 2016 I really managed to pick myself back up, I was healthy, happy, my relationship was back on track, things were going well! I decided not to return to my studies and to instead focus on bettering myself. I began a professional qualification in Marketing, and got my first job in the field!
That job… didn’t work out, to put it lightly. Think Devil Wears Prada. Nothing I did was right. I worked hard, contributed a bunch of ideas, and was just good at the job. Again, I had to make the decision to leave a toxic situation for the sake of my mental health, and there I began another soul-destroying job search. i
Something just wasn’t quite right, I didn’t want to just go to another job, I really wanted to get my degree! I put my application in to UCAS, and was absolutely ecstatic when University of Winchester offered me a place on the 2nd year of their Marketing course, which I’ll be starting in just over a month!
Its so important to realise that you do not have to go straight to university when you’re 18 and fresh out of sixth form. If you’re not ready, don’t go. Please do not feel pressured into making such a massive decision if you just don’t think its right. Nobody will be disappointed in you, you are not letting anyone down. Success does not depend on whether or not you have a degree, it can open doors, but it really depends what field you want to work in. Not everyone needs a degree to be successful, that’s a fact. Success comes from hard work and determination. Some of the most successful people I know left school with some questionable grades, but they worked really hard in their jobs and companies recognise and reward that.
Equally, I’m going back to university at 22, but I know people who’ve begun their studies in their 30s and 40s. University isn’t like school, no one cares about your age, for the most part people have grown up a little bit (that’s not to say you won’t come across the odd utter knobhead!), and you will have an amazing time and make friends no bother at all. University really is what you make it!
My journey to where I am today hasn’t been easy, but for the first time in a long time, I am truly excited about the future.
Love, Aileen x