I write this as someone who has always put her all into studying for every course, exam and essay – as someone who got good grades first time around at GCSE, A level and a degree. I did put in a lot of hard work for all of these and deserved the grades I got, but I know that there are a lot of people out there who have not had the study support they need at the time, or have just not applied themselves enough in order to get the grades they needed.
Now before anyone jumps down my throat – of course exams and grades are not the be-all and end-all of finding a successful career, but they do help give you a good base on which to grow, whether you want to continue your studies or not. It seems ridiculous to me that so many people fail to take full advantage of the education on offer for free in this country when so many people across the globe are not even given that opportunity. There can be various reasons for this, perhaps they don’t get the support they need to understand the subject and approach the exam, perhaps they just don’t put in the work to revise and study, perhaps they prefer to mess around in school or they might just think it is all stupid.
I know quite a few people who have not taken or been offered study opportunities early on who have later regretted this and have been forced to return to education, and this has inspired me to write on the topic. I just want to point out to those who have perhaps often thought about wanting to complete their studies but have never done anything about it – it’s not too late! My mum never had the option of university and instead studied to be a nurse (something she had always wanted to do despite being told by her biology teacher it would never happen!). When she later branched out from nursing to become a lecturer in health and social care, she took the opportunity, through her place of work, to study on courses and eventually for a degree in education. She was lucky and paid very little towards the course because her company were willing to fund the training, but often there are other ways of getting help with funding these courses.
I know others who have left school early and unsure of what they wanted to do, they might have worked for a while before finding their passion and returning to school or college to retrain – distance learning is also a great option and often cheaper. While others have left school and refused university, instead preferring to find ways of training whilst working with some days of study in a university – combining the best of both worlds! There are also those who have gone away to university because they are unsure of what they want to do and who leave even less sure. Sometimes these individuals might discover a passion later, like I did with journalism, and find that they have to train further and complete a load of exams to qualify for a position – again distance learning can help you secure a job alongside your studies.
Another example is someone I know who was always the mischievous one in the class – that person who cheeked the teachers and never did any work but you couldn’t dislike them. Despite being an intelligent individual, she left without great grades and went straight into work before starting an apprenticeship. Years later she finds herself in a job she has no passion for, and she’s bored. What is her biggest regret? Not bothering with her A levels. So now she’s studying hard and retaking the exams with big ideas about having a career she loves and possibly going to university. It’s a shame she only discovered the joy of learning a few years late, but better late than never!
The point is that no route is better than another – whether you choose to get a degree, do an apprenticeship, leave and work, train on the job or whatever – all of them give you opportunities, they are just different ones! But no matter what path you choose, there are always opportunities and ways of backtracking and rewriting your story by heading in a different direction.
Have you returned to education after discovering your passion or realising you should have tried harder?
Brilliant post, really got me thinking. I was always the hardworking one with good grades all through high school but, since then I’ve begun and stopped 2 different degrees because my passion just wasn’t there. I’ve found that I need to be inspired by the subject to fully engage, and I know i’ll get a degree at some point but until then I am trying to work out where I want to go in life, so that when I do choose a degree it is going to be the right one!
Thanks Molly. I know what you mean – a couple of the highest achievers from my school ended up dropping out of uni and completely stepped off the career path they had been on for years. Sometimes we spend so much time planning our career and life that we build it up and when we finally get it, it doesn’t quite live up to our expectations. I completely agree, it’s a shame you haven’t found the degree for you out there, but so much more important to find one you love than to rush through it. What subjects have you tried so far? xx
Yeah, I used to worry that you had to do everything one after the other in a perfect order… that is definitely not whats happening now and i’m all the happier for it! I started a degree in American and Canadian Studies, and loved it but realized that I missed working with kids. I then started an early primary education degree, again loved bits of it but i’m not certain its for me… now i’m on a year out to decide whether I want to go back to it. Who knows what i’ll do but i’m sure i’ll be happy if it’s something I love! xx
I think the problem is that all through school we are told we have to do things a certain way and in this order otherwise we are failures – then we enter the real world and discover the truth – that’s the future is wide open and we have all the time in the world! Both sound great but you’re right – no point if you feel something is missing.. At least you know that when you make your decision it will be the right one, nothing worse than living with regret! I’m sure you’ll find what you want to do with some time out – sometimes it’s nice just to take a break from education and ‘live’ before making your next move. Look forward to hearing what you end up doing 🙂 good luck xx
I graduated college in 2008, started grad school for clinical psychology the same year, then quit in 2010. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but when I found a new interest in higher education, I went back to grad school and recently graduated 🙂 I think we all have to take our own path in education… some of us it takes a lifetime, some people do it all back-to-back, and some people never care one way or another about degrees! At the end of the day, as long as we’re pursuing happiness, we’re on the right track.
I couldn’t have put it better myself Caitlin – so important we do what is right for us as an individual rather than just getting swept along with what people around us thing we should do. I’m pleased for you that you found what you really wanted to do 🙂 xx
Great post, really well thought out arguments. I too have known people be successful either going straight through school and Uni or else taking some time to think about it. The important thing is for us to be confident enough to choose what is right for us and to believe that we deserve it.
Thanks Denise – I’m glad it reads well because I had so many thoughts going on in my head on the subject when writing! I completely agree with you, there is no right or wrong way – some find education is not for them and they need a more hands-on approach like an apprenticeship, and I know lots of people who are training on the job as teachers/pharmacists/journalists. There is a solution for everyone – just a case of finding it! Thanks for your comments xx
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Thanks 🙂 x