What do we really go to university for?

Holly Smith·10 January 2016·5 min read
What do we really go to university for?

The three or four years you spend at university will be a time of change time for everyone and before you graduate,  it is worth thinking about what it is you value and want to get out of the whole experience.

For some people, the ultimate goal is to come out with a first and get a decent job at the end of it. For others, it’s the experience that’s most important, rather than the piece of paper you receive at the end. Then there are the middlemen, the ones who strive to strike a balance between good grades and maintaining a social life to look back fondly on.

Essentially, we all go to uni with different goals in place.

Personally, I try to maintain a balance between studying, working and socialising. However, I know myself that this may not be the best method for getting a first class honours.

So I think the first thing to do is to decide on your priorities, so that you can prioritise your time accordingly. If your focus is on having the time of your life, then choose some events you want to go to and engage in as many social activities as possible. After all, going to uni is about gaining life experience as well as studying.

But. (There is always a but.) This mentality has changed a lot since the tuition fees rose and it’s proven that students are now becoming far more career focused than ever before.

Nowadays, the uni experience is about is ensuing you dedicate enough time to studying. I really like this article about becoming minimal which helps you set up your personal space for a better atmosphere for studying. This will calm your mind and mean that the time you do spend studying will be quality time, not spent scrolling down Instagram or Facebook (which let’s face it, is very much the usual!).

It is worth making an appointment with your careers advisor at your uni to discuss options for when you finish. This way, you will see whether it is vital that you gain a first, or whether you can relax a little and do what you need to do with a 2:1. For example, if your dream is to become a restaurant owner, you may not need a first, but you might want to look at doing extra courses in business or management during the summer break. But at least it means if you are doing a history degree, the pressure is off to be aiming for a first.

If on the other hand, you are wanting an academic career or something related to law or a governmental role, you may want to think about putting more work into doing well. These fields can be extremely competitive so it is worth thinking about the kind of career you would like, and how you will distinguish yourself in a competitive environment.

I personally think a balance between maintaining a social life and getting the most out of your education is important and achievable. Doing activities can actually help to improve your performance. There’s even evidence to suggests that socialising can actually make us smarter – interesting!

Once you have decided on the kind of values you have and where you want to progress to, you will have a much better focus on what you are aiming for at uni. This will also enable you to spend some guilt-free time having fun, as well as the time you spend in the library will not seem like a huge waste if you know that you will be rewarded for your efforts in the long term.