The build up before the end of sixth form can be one of the most stressful periods of a teenager’s life. Questions are being fired from all directions like bullets: what are you doing with your life? Do you want to go to university? What do you want to study? What career do you want to pursue? Where do you want to live? This puts a lot of young people under a huge amount of pressure whilst they make decisions that will build to what they hope to be a brighter future.
A lot of people opt out of going to university for a number of reasons but the biggest and hardest to ignore is the money aspect; listed as one of Not Going to Uni’s five reasons to follow a different path. Financial struggle can be a complete decider for students who are on the fence. University comes with an enormous monetary obligation, not only in terms of tuition fee loans but lump on another £11000 - £24000 worth of debt in the form of maintenance loans for a three year degree and the idea becomes rather off-putting.
On top of this, if a student is deemed as only needing the minimum loan, this won’t even cover accommodation rent in most cases and trying to balance nearly full-time work hours to afford rent, a new social life, full-time study, and extra-curricular activities is pretty much impossible. Not to mention any freelance work on the side to start building a portfolio. The Guardian’s collection of studies into the correlation between mental health and the individual’s financial state show a big issue that doesn’t seem as if it will be resolved any time soon and this needs to be taken into account when deciding on the next step in life.
This is where the most unthought of piece of advice comes in: live at home whilst studying at university. University has a lot of images attached to it of partying and freedom and independence but who’s to say that this can’t also be the case whilst living with parents? Once a friendship group has been formed, there’s a constant stream of places to stay after a night out or a wild party - with a comfy bed in a clean house waiting the next (very hungover) day. And even the strictest parents loosen the reins once they realise that their child is growing into a young adult.
The thing is, there’s a lot more time to focus on actual university life whilst living at home without all the stresses of money and living costs. On top of this, if a part-time job is involved on the side throughout the year, there is no longer the need to squeeze in as many work hours during holidays. Then the summer break becomes wide open for opportunities such as travelling, internships and anything else that takes your fancy. This means that not only is the goal of a degree being accomplished but other interests are being taken seriously at the same time.
One of the things to be cautious of, however, is the extra effort that will need to be made in terms of socialising. The first friends made at university are the people sharing a flat in halls so without this ice-breaker, it takes a lot more confidence to become part of a friend group. That being said, 99% of students in their first year of university are open to meeting new people and by simply introducing yourself, joining societies, and inviting people out friends will be made in no time. There are a lot of forums on The Student Room filled with people who will share their own experiences and talk to anyone who is still worried about how to fit in and make friends.
- Eleanor O’Donnell