With university fees higher than ever and a heavy baggage of debt pre-packed amongst the moving out boxes, I’ve thought about some questions which are worth asking before making the investment.
If you might be considering university for the first time, thinking about it again or are about to send a child on their way, this is for you.
It’s quite common to jump into going to university because it’s the next thing to do. I certainly made this mistake a decade ago. You’re barely 18 and suddenly it’s decision time. It’s overwhelming. This choice might shape the rest of your life. You’re thinking if not this, what else? Will I get left behind?
The answer is NO. You have OPTIONS.
You just need to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. It will help you to create a habit of feeling fulfilled. Yes, this is a habit. It’s a thinking pattern. It doesn’t just appear because you have a degree certificate. Fulfilment takes the work of conscious decisions. And it starts with this one.
Rates of mental health cases are high at universities. Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts. I’ve seen them. Rushing into a new pattern without thinking about it. Unable to manage the stress of feeling like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Studying something that doesn’t really excite you. A 9am lecture that isn’t worth waking up for.
STOP. Think about it.
I’ve come up with some questions to stop you falling into that pattern. I call it a pattern because once you’ve done 3 years of it at university and felt unfulfilled, you’ll likely accept a job in the same path. You’ll get used to justifying your empty feeling for a grade or a paycheque that society tells you is important. It will fill your pocket but it won’t fill your heart. This becomes a pattern, your pattern and your life. I’ve seen it.
STOP. Think about it.
The 9am lecture will turn into a 9am desk job. The lecturer you find boring will turn into a manager. The mundane work will turn into 8 hours a day waiting for the clock to get to 5. Is this the life you’ve worked so hard for?
Grab a piece of paper and answer these:
- What does the world need more of?
This might be based on the things you love about society and being alive such as the arts, creativity, expression. But it might also be based on the things that you feel fall short or the things which infuriate you, politics, economics, religion. It might be based on something which has helped you, a friend or family member such as medicine or vetinary. Or if it’s your curiousity, then science and research.
Think about it. What does the world need more of? Make a list.
- What do I want to understand better?
This is really important because you are about to read about it for the next 3-4 years. University texts do not skim over the details and no one is chasing you to attend lectures. It’s all on you. So, you need to be interested in understanding the subject. If it’s new, have you ever picked up a book about it or shown interest in it before? This is a good indicator based on your existing behaviours.
- What feels good?
You will naturally feel fulfilled by doing something that feels good. Look at your last week, what did you do because you wanted to? How did you spend your free time? What activity made you feel good? This is a question that shifts from the thinking-mind into the feeling-mind. Did reading feel good? Did drawing feel good? Did that documentary feel good? Did creating feel good?
What felt good? Write it down.
- Why do I want to do this?
If you have trouble answering, have to think long and hard about it or if the answer is any of the following:
A) I’m doing it because everyone else is,
B) I’m doing it because I don’t know what else to do,
C) I’m doing it because it will make me rich or
D) I’m doing it because my parents want me to
PLEASE. Stop. Think about it.
- Am I ready to do this now?
This is about realising you have time and that there isn’t a magic formula for life. School+grades+job does not always = happiness. If you need to, take a year to explore YOU. Challenge yourself. Get work experience. Get life experience. Travel. Volunteer. Commit yourself to finding that cause. Your cause. The one you want to study from your heart and not just your mind. You HAVE time. Jobs will always be there. Universities will always be there.
Stop. Think about it?
What are your answers? Did this help you?
If there is anyone you know who is going to university or might be considering it, please share with them!