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Is university the right choice for me?

Home / Student experience / Discover Sunderland / Preparing for university / Is university the right choice for me?

Making the choice to commit to going to university is a big decision, whether you’re studying at school or college and looking for your next steps, or returning to education after being in the world of work. A lot of prospective students find themselves asking whether they should even go to university, or look into alternative options such as a Degree Apprenticeship. We’re taking a look at some of the things to consider when asking yourself the question “should I go to university?”.

Do I need to go to university?

We know that the employment landscape has changed significantly in the last decade and more diverse options have emerged for people looking to embark on their chosen career path. However, a lot of fields still require a degree as a base level to get into their profession, including lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers.

A sign saying future pointing right

An impressive degree classification can enhance your employability when applying – the employment market is highly competitive and employers are often looking for an application with an edge. When you are searching for roles, you might find that holding a degree enables you to apply for more specialised roles. Throughout your studies you will explore different areas of the industry you are interested in, and later, may go on to specialise in.

It’s important to consider which parts of going to university are right for you, and how you learn best. Self-motivation is a highly important factor as you’ll be expected to do lots of individual study, and assignment deadlines are usually set. If you think you learn better in practice, then you may decide to undertake an apprenticeship or an entry-level position. However, the majority of courses now embed practical experience within the curriculum to prepare you for life after graduation. This gives you the opportunity to build up your network and make useful contacts in different industries.

Is going to university worth it?

According to the most recent UK Government Graduate labour market statistics report, graduates continue to have higher employment rates and average salaries compared to non-graduates, and this is a significant factor for many when considering whether to undertake a degree qualification. Although the financial implications can seem daunting, it’s important to understand what repayments you would be making in the future if you decide to take out a student loan, as this can be used to inform your decision making.

It’s also important to consider that University is the sum of more moments than you might have previously thought. Obviously, you will attend lectures, seminars and practical sessions – all of which will help you progress toward securing your degree at the end, however, it’s useful to appreciate that university is (for many) a huge step towards independence, confidence, making lifelong friends and learning those all-important transferrable skills.

Students sitting on the beach

How do I know which university is right for me?

Once you’ve made a choice as to whether university is the best next step for you, you’ll need to consider what subject you’d like to study. Your options can seem endless, and you’ll find hundreds of courses to consider, so research course content carefully when you’re looking at your options. The next key step to take is to sign up to an Open Day.

Attending an Open Day means you’ll get a real feel for the university and campus, plus you’ll also get a taster of the subject you’re interested in. Try to think about what parts of university are a priority for you. Is cost of living a priority? Do you want to study somewhere with good transfer links? Do you want to live in a smaller or larger city? This is also the best opportunity you’ll have to ask all of your questions, and you should come away from the day with a better understanding of the course and the university itself.

What other options are there?

If you decide that university is not the right choice for you, there are a multitude of other options available to you. Free resources such as the National Careers Service can help you identify the steps you’d need to take to get into your chosen field. An increasingly growing number of students are opting to work and study via a Degree Apprenticeship, which combines working and earning money whilst still studying part-time towards a formal qualification.

You may also choose to work straight after school or college, choosing an entry level position and working your way up as your career progresses. University is something that you may choose to pursue further into your career once you have developed an idea of the area you’d like to specialise in.

You can find out more about the courses we offer at the University of Sunderland by visiting the relevant subject areas, and you can also book on to an Open Day and experience our city-by-the-sea for yourself.

Published: 21 January 2022