Is higher education worth the cost?

Now that university fees and living costs have shot up, is higher education worth it?

Is higher education worth the cost?

[This is an article from the archive site] My plans in life include going to uni later this year, which is scary in itself, let alone considering the debt I will get into (especially living and studying in London), yet, with so many alternatives available, have I picked the right option? To be honest, I probably couldn't tell you that until I've finished my degree, because I believe that each case is different. Whilst university and even that style of formal education and academia really is for some people, it totally isn't for others.

Apprenticeships, trainee schemes, internships, studying overseas, gap years and volunteering; the possibilities and careers once you've transitioned through these options are endless. With these often being cheaper, and offering equivalent level qualifications, why would one decide to go to university after all? While I don't have a definitive answer for this, I do have some suggestions.

The university experience. Now, this is one of my main reasons for going to uni, I don't think you can recreate the experience of networking, building up connections with potential colleagues, and generating your own identity anywhere else, let alone gain the real-life experience of living away from home, yet with the safety of your university support network and friends. In addition to this, I feel the practical skills gained, such as knowing how to link up with those around you, potentially navigating around a new city or even region, and travel are invaluable. It could be argued that these skills are also gained from moving away from home, and not going to university, however, with living costs on the rise, this isn't always a feasible option without a student loan.

The formal education; no, it isn't for everyone. It may also be suggested that it isn't for the majority, with everyone having their own, unique, way of learning. Mine is especially idiosyncratic! Despite this, having a higher level of study skills can be vital for certain careers, in particular knowing how to read and digest critical papers or responses, for example in law or literature. Furthermore, an academic writing style can aid professional practice and understanding; however, this may also be gained through industry experience.

Nevertheless, I believe you can still make it without the tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt, and that there are some equally as valuable options available. With apprenticeships becoming an ever popular way to gain experience as well as a qualification, and paid internships being a great way to start earning and become part of your field, I feel these are incredibly worthy of consideration, yet sadly often overlooked. Having known a few creative apprentices, I have found that they have very positive experiences of their apprenticeships, often more so that uni students I've known, although I'm sure the positive and negative experiences even out.

Overall, I don't think anyone can put a price on education, and that if you want to go to university, the cost shouldn't categorically stop you, although it should be something to consider, in addition to the multitude of other options available. But, please do let me know what you think! Have you had experiences of any of these? Have they been positive, or not so much? And do you think uni is worth it?


Sally Trivett

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Sally Trivett is a UK based artist and educator. She has recently graduated from Wimbledon College of Art, and is currently studying for her PGCE in Primary Education.

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