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Question – Do you really need to go to university?

Considering going to university? Our career coach gives his insight into how your education can impact your job opportunities.

Question: Do you have to go to university to get somewhere in life? Ella, East Grinstead 

The short answer is no.

Lots of entrepreneurs and successful people in the arts, fashion and entertainment sectors didn’t go to university. The best people I have ever worked with didn’t go to university. And if you’ve got some hustle, you can persuade people to take a risk on you and give you a job.

A longer answer is yes, if you want to work for large companies in conventional roles, it’s really hard to be taken seriously without a degree. This is a quick way for them to sort candidates and ensure a minimum standard of quality.

However, this is changing, more non-university pathways into employment are opening up. In the UK context, you could take a look at apprenticeship schemes (they’re not just for trades anymore).

These give you a combination of qualifications, classroom based and on the job learning, and you get paid. Employers report that staff who come through this route are actually better quality than many graduates.

Navigating these pathways can be confusing at first, so get some help from your school or college.

A more holistic answer is – consider the whole experience. University can be a way of achieving independence, getting away from your hometown, meeting new people, broadening your mind and having fun.

Yes, it comes at a price, but it’s a pretty unique opportunity.

Finally, a more philosophical answer. What’s ‘getting somewhere in life?’ What does that mean for you?

If you can figure that out, even if it’s just a broad idea for the next few years, let that guide your decisions. Map a way to get there, and figure out if university needs to be part of that journey or not.